Your pet is a part of your family, and you'd do anything to keep your fluffy friend happy and healthy.

Sure any trip to the vet is expensive, but if your pet is usually healthy, you've probably just paid for their occasional medical care out of pocket. If you've never even considered pet insurance, you're not alone. While around 68% of U.S. households own pets, only 1% of those pets are insured, according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA). But what would you do if your pet had a sudden medical emergency, racking up medical bills into the thousands?

A recent survey by the Associated Press found that 41% of pet owners are worried they could not afford the medical bills for a sick pet. Petfinder estimates the annual cost of routine vet visits is $45-$200 for dogs and $50-$400 for cats, but emergency vet visits can cost up to $2,000, sometimes more. If you couldn't bare to leave your pet untreated in the case of an unexpected health issue, but a $2,000 vet bill isn't in your budget, maybe pet insurance is something you should consider.

Pet insurance is actually not dissimilar from human health insurance. According to Penny Hoarder, like health insurance, when buying pet insurance, "You can choose from different levels of coverage, with each plan costing a monthly or annual premium based on how much coverage you choose."

Plans differ pretty dramatically in what they cover, and while some cover basic scenarios like accidents and injuries, others only cover accidents. Some of the most comprehensive (and most expensive) plans include accidents, injuries and genetic/hereditary conditions. But is an extra monthly fee worth the peace of mind?


Pet Life Today

Veterinarian Jean Maixner, co-owner of Animal Critical Care & Emergency Services in Seattle, thinks it is. "If you get the right policy, it can be an asset to the health care of that pet and have a significant impact on the bill that results from a visit in an emergency situation." She goes on to say that, "Some people can't afford the treatment so they ask us to euthanize their pet. It's absolutely horrible,If people had acquired pet insurance before the emergency occurred, they might have been able to move forward with some reasonable treatment to help their pet."

But while pet insurance may serve as emotional comfort, evidence suggests it just doesn't make financial sense. In an attempt to find a definitive answer about whether pet insurance is worth the cost, Consumer Reports compared the cost vs. payout of nine pet policies for a healthy 10-year-old beagle named Roxy. The vet bills over Roxy's life time came out to a grand total of $7,026. In every case, the total premiums that would have been paid to each of the ten insurance companies were higher than Roxy's medical bills.

But, you may still be wondering, what if Roxy had faced a major medical event, would the insurance have been worth it then? Even in that case, the magazine found, probably not.

Instead, to prepare for the event of a catastrophic medical bill for your pet, we recommend putting aside the money you would have used to pay an insurance company each month and creating a savings account. That way, if your pet lives a healthy life and never needs major medical intervention, you haven't wasted your money on an unnecessary policy, but you're still prepared should something happen to your furry best friend.

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