Pet Insurance Worth The Cost?

FRESNO, Calif.

Need a sonogram for your pregnant dog? Or does your cat need major surgery? All that is possible, but it's very expensive.

"Veterinary medicine has essentially caught up with human medicine in technological advances. The problem is we don't often have health insurance the way humans do, and the costs are dramatic," Veterinarian Dr. Brian Green said.

To see if pet insurance is worth the cost, consumer reports money adviser analyzed nine plans from the three biggest companies - VPI, ASPCA Pet Health Insurance, and 24 Petwatch Quickcare, as well as Trupanion, a newcomer.

"The pet insurance plans cost anywhere from $10 to $90 a month," Mandy Walker said.

Consumer reports used "Roxie," a 10-year-old beagle, as a "test" pet. She's been a healthy dog, in general, with lifetime veterinary bills totaling around $6,000.

"With all of the plans, the insurance cost more than Roxie's medical care - from $2,000 to $5,000 more, depending on the coverage," Walker said.

But what if a pet develops a serious disease and has big medical bills? "If your pet does become ill, the insurance can pay off, but you have to check the plans carefully. There may be lots of restrictions."

Pet insurance may exclude pre-existing conditions or specific health problems for certain breeds. And check if there are maximum limits on what the company will pay out in a year or for a particular illness. "If you do decide to get pet insurance, don't pay extra for wellness care that covers things like annual checkups. In our analysis with Roxie, it wasn't worth it."

You can get more information about the pros and cons of pet insurance on our website.

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