The subject is becoming a Hot Topic in the veterinary world as the cost of providing comprehensive services for pets keeps climbing. Big bills are common now, as pets are treated like family – and often with the same medicines and equipment! MRI’s and CT scanners are commonplace now (not just at Medical Teaching Hospitals) and the problems identified can now be treated with expensive medicines and procedures.  ‘Economic Euthanasia’** takes an enormous emotional toll on owners, their children and in fact the vets and vet nurses themselves.  Pet Insurance is not the panacea but is a useful adjunct.  After perusing far too may insurance options, Dr Kim recommends you view future vet bills and pet insurance in one of three ways

Pet Insurance is for Peace of Mind – an affordable amount monthly means you can spend big on a CATastrophe and there are some pretty expensive problems out there, especially if your cat insists on cruising the neighbourhood. Additionally, the amount you put into insurance can be built into a budget.  At this time, only one company has a No Claims Bonus, but both Woolworths and Coles are providing pet insurance with shopping benefits which may help keep the total costs down.

Pet Insurance IS NOT a savings scheme – that money just disappears and you are VERY UNLIKELY to get more back from insurance than you put in.  Some very clever people (Actuaries) and software make sure of that, so if you want to stay ahead, start an account for your cat and put the monthly premium into it – you are gambling on your cat not having an expensive problem when young

Pet Insurance will never be as expensive as your Medicare contributions nor your Comprehensive car insurance.  And if you want YOUR cat to have access to all that that modern medicine can do, then Pet Insurance is probably for you.

Dr Kim’s standard advice? Insure cats for the first two years of life and then decide if they are adventurous or medically challenging enough to continue with insurance.  Keep your feline friend indoors (at least at night) and put some money aside for the diseases of old age (arthritis and renal issues) when insurance is harder to get.  Oh, and keep up to date with health checks!  A Stitch in Time Saves Nine (Lives).

Here is the average cost of insurance vs the average cost of common problems:  and here’s a good review of ‘is it worth it?’  and check out the actual cost of care: (USA data)

These are the items Dr Kim has on her Insurance Wish-list. Her advice – talk to a broker (reading the fine print in more than two policies will drive you to drink).  She can tell them what to look for.

  1. Accident
  2. Illness
  3. Tick
  4. Gen Cons
  5. Bathing
  6. Viral esp FIP
  7. Dental
  8. Alternative
  9. Behaviour
  10. Excess
  11. % benefit
  12. Max payment
  13. Sublimits
  14. Lifetime
  15. Exclusions
  16. Traps.

**the sad consequence of an inability to pay for a life-saving treatment means the only humane option is euthanasia, the prevention of suffering – for the pet at least.