Pup Finance – Be Prepared for Emergencies
Several readers have asked me about pet insurance.
There’s a lot of confusion about the topic out there. Some people swear by it. Other people have heard it’s a scam. I’ve done a little digging and while I’m not going to say it’s 100% necessary, I do think pet insurance is a valuable financial tool.
Anyone who has a pet knows can be an expensive journey.
Being a pet guardian can come with a host of costs. Usually, you think you know what to expect. You expect food costs, collars, leashes, a bed, vet bills, and other assorted expenses.
When your pet first comes home you figure you can afford it. You’ve brought home a healthy dog, you have a budget to feed it, and you’ve chosen a veterinarian.
But sometimes things change — the unexpected happens.
Your dog can get sick. There can be an accident. Suddenly you’re faced with enormous vet bills. Are you prepared to cover the costs?
Here’s how to be financially prepared for a dog (or other pet) emergency.
Most people will tell you to just make sure you have an emergency fund for just your pet costs. That’s a great idea, but not everyone can do it, and not everyone can put away enough fast enough.
If you’re someone who is willing to spend anything to save your pet, you may be willing to spend $10,000 or more.
For most of us, our pets are like our children. It pains us when they don’t feel well. And when they are sick or injured.
We want to do anything we can.
The last thing you want when your pet is injured or sick is to have to make the choice to not treat them. You don’t want to have to choose to euthanize. But many pet guardians are faced with that very choice.
Unless you can sock away a few thousand dollars and fast, you can still be caught completely unprepared for the unexpected.
This is when people consider pet insurance.
Choosing pet insurance can be one of the most important decisions you make about your pet’s health other than your veterinarian.
You want a company with a great reputation — you don’t want some small company that offers cheap rates and whose reputation is completely unknown.
By ensuring a solid reputation you have better luck at avoiding scams.
In general, pet insurance is not the scam some people think it must be.
Sure, the old policies were very selective in what they would cover. They had a lot of exclusions. Things like chronic illnesses and hereditary problems weren’t covered.
So, people felt that they’d pay for the insurance and never be able to use it for their dog — and I’d agree with them.
But this isn’t the case today. There are at least a dozen reputable companies offering valuable policies in the United States now.
Coverage has improved to be more like general health insurance for people.
A lot of the policies now are customizable. Meaning that you can choose deductibles and co-pays. You can find something that works for your specific budget.
I’m including a link to a pet insurance guide I found online, Your Pet Insurance Guide. I’ve done some digging into it and it seems like a solid guide with valuable points for you to consider.
But I don’t think pet insurance is the only solution you need. It has limits.
One thing that is important to know about pet insurance is that most policies work on a reimbursement case.
For reimbursement, you pay out-of-pocket for all costs, and then wait for the insurance to reimburse you for qualified expenses. If money is very tight, it can be hard to make those payments to start off — and even harder to wait for reimbursement.
To solve this problem, I recommend a two-pronged approach.
This is what I’m doing for my Boo & Lorelei.
First, I recommend that you definitely set up a savings account specifically for pet emergencies.
Even if you can only put $5 or $10 a month toward this account, it will help you and your pet one day. We’re still working on building this account ourselves — so don’t think you have to be able to do it all at once.
Second, I recommend some form of credit specifically set aside for medical emergencies.
It can take a long time to completely fund an emergency account. So, my short-term solution is having a credit card that I designate specifically for health emergencies for us or our pups.
In fact, my veterinarian actually recommended a program to me called Care Credit.
I don’t have this one right now, but we’re considering it since Lorelei has a few tests needed that we can’t cover yet. I’m including the LINK for that as well.
This is a credit card dedicated entirely to medical procedures.
Now if you look at their website you’ll notice that the card covers things like plastic surgery and other elective and emergency procedures.
But they also have a section specifically dedicated to their veterinary care coverage. I like that they are geared toward the medical needs of your entire family.
The for me, having a credit like this would mean being able to pay the fees I needed to pay up front to the veterinarian.
And I wouldn’t be challenging my home’s cash flow. I could merely pay off the card when the insurance company paid me back. You will need to take care of paying for the co-pays and things if you don’t have a policy that does 100% reimbursement.
Now, I don’t expect everyone to be able to do all these things at once.
Some of us live pretty close to empty wallets.
But if you can start even one piece of this puzzle, you’ll be in better shape if your dog is ever counting on you to help them through a medical problem.
And that’s our job as Pet Parents, right?
For more information on the health and safety of your dog, check out our posts Canine Leukemia – natural ways to help your dog cope and Why grain free isn’t right for every dog.