Everyday Cheapskate: Pet health insurance -- is it worth it?

Shocked cat

Should I get health insurance for my pets?

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Dear Cheapskate: I have a dog and two cats. Between routine health check-ups, inoculations and occasional mishaps and illnesses, my vet bills can be quite significant. Can you tell me anything about affordable pet health insurance? -- Beth E., Montana

Dear Beth: I’m afraid that pet insurance might give you peace of mind, but it is not likely to save you any money. My friend and colleague, the late Dr. David T. Roen, board-certified veterinarian and owner of the Clarkston Veterinary Clinic in Clarkston, Washington, was adamant with his customers that pet insurance is a gamble and the odds are stacked against you. By time you factor in annual premiums, deductibles and typical policy exclusions, it is possible you could be out money in the end. You’d probably be better off to set up your own savings account for pet health care and make premium payments to yourself. If your animals remain healthy, you can keep the nest egg. If not, you have the account to cover the bills.

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Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at “Ask Mary.” This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living.”


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