Do You Really Need Pet Insurance?

Do You Need Pet Insurance

Do pet owners really need to buy insurance for their animals? You might be surprised that it’s a growing trend with serious reasons behind it. The medical treatments and technologies being used for humans are now being used for animals.

Chemotherapy, heart surgery and MRIs are becoming more common and advanced treatments can cost thousands of dollars.

Some pet owners facing an animal’s serious illness or injury will choose to euthanize — put the animal down — for financial reasons. Or they will decide on a less expensive treatment for an injured animal.

“If they have a fracture that they can’t afford to get stabilized — can’t afford to go to the orthopedic surgeon to plate it — they might choose amputation rather than fix the fracture,” says Dr. Lauren Adams of Emory Animal Hospital.

Such tough decisions are more likely in rural areas, Adams says, noting her clients in Decatur, Georgia, usually are able to pay for any specialized treatments that their pets may need.

Statistics show that people are willing to foot the growing medical bills for their beloved pets. U.S. pet owners spent $10.5 billion on vet care in 2005, compared to $7.2 billion in 2000, according to the Pet Industry Strategic Outlook report from Dillon Media LLC, a marketing and research firm.

Statistics vary on the percentage of pet owners in the U.S. who insure their pets. A 2004 survey by the American Animal Hospital Association estimated that three percent of pet owners carried insurance. That’s far lower than in Sweden, where nearly 50 percent of pet owners insure their animals, according to market research publisher Packaged Facts.

Pet health insurance may be worth considering as a way to prepare for unexpected medical expenses. What’s not always clear is whether it is cost-effective.