Pet insurance has become much more common in recent years and today we're going to talk about whether or not it is worth paying for. I've talked about my critters on the blog quite a bit but for any newbies I've got two dogs and two cats. I do have pet insurance, but only for the two dogs (I guess I love them more)! My justification is that our cats are indoor only, one of our dogs is a Boxer who are known for having numerous health concerns (and he is definitely one of them!) and I just think vet bills for dogs can add up faster than for cats. This may come back to haunt me but I guess I'll just have to wait and see.
Pets are not cheap and if you've ever had to deal with an emergency vet trip you will know that you can get stuck with a huge bill, we're talking thousands of dollars. My boxer (Baxter) was my first dog and we had just bought a new house, the bf was in school and we just didn't have a ton of disposable income we could drop if something happened to him. That's why we got insurance coverage, we could afford the $60/month premium on an ongoing basis but if he got hit by a car or ate something he shouldn't have and all of a sudden needed drastic measures we would be officially stuck (and yes, I'm that person that will spend all my dimes on our pets).
I also went for the insurance on our second dog (Bree). She is 100% mutt so her monthly premium is about half the price of Mr. Baxter's (everything about that damn dog is expensive) and it just seemed worth it. I figure that there is a pretty good chance we will have to use the insurance at some point for one of them and it could very well pay for itself. If we just look at the numbers for Baxter, we pay $60 a month so $720 a year and about $7200 over his lifetime (based on 10 year life expectancy which is pretty normal for a Boxer). That sounds like a ton of money but that would really only be maybe two or three big health scares...and that doesn't sound crazy to me (scary yes, crazy no).
Now, if you are in more stable financial position when you first get a pet I think the decision is harder. A good option would be to save up an emergency fund for your pet(s) which would basically mean you are funding your own insurance policy. The only concern with that comes if something happens before you've saved enough, then you need a way to make up the shortfall.
If I were to add another dog to our family (we are absolutely not, two is plenty) this is the route I would take at this point in time. It gives you more control over your money and if you don't ever need to make a claim you don't lose all the premiums you paid into the policy.
There are quite a few options out there for pet insurance coverage but the one we are with is called Trupanion and I'm happy with it. The best time to get the insurance is when your dog is a puppy and hopefully has a clean bill of health, that way there wont be any pre-existing conditions. I think the Trupanion premiums are fair and the coverage is great. We've never actually had to make a claim so I can't speak to that but their website is simple to use and when I have called them they are very helpful. I did make the decision to set our deductible quite high ($1000) which kept the monthly premiums low. I figure, I would always be able to afford a $1000 bill but anything more than that could become a bit of a stretch.