On pet insurance

My friend’s cat is poorly – but he’s on the mend, don’t worry. She was griping about the cost, but she has pet health insurance. I said, “Isn’t it wonderful that pet insurance is an option?” because I so so believe it’s such a blessing, at least in theory. Obviously, it doesn’t always work the way it’s supposed to – nothing ever does – but it does have some success, which is better than nothing.

Her answer was typical (for either a Brit or an American, really): to gripe about the price of the deductible (excess) and the premiums. This really sat wrong with me, but I couldn’t articulate it well at the time, so I let it lie just then.

our cat as a kitten, attacking a pen

Kill the pen!

I’ve stood in the vet’s office and written a check for $500 – and that wasn’t even the whole bill, it was just the half or third (I don’t remember) that I could afford to pay. My parents (I was young; I still lived with them) had to pick up the rest. The £105 deductible on my own pet insurance bill is a whole lot easier to manage than the infinity that seems to be the upper limit when you have to go to the vet’s office for more than the annual checkup.

I realized: it’s not about whether, once everything’s said and done, the insurance has paid out as much as you’ve paid in. Most people tend to think that way, but that’s not what you’re actually buying with pet health insurance. You’re buying the ability to never stand in the vet’s office and have to say, “I can’t afford the treatment. I have to let my family member die.”

(I’ve never had to file a claim, mind you – for all I know, pet health insurance is as ornery at getting claims approved as human health insurance is infamous for. We have the company that the vet’s office recommended – the least troublesome one in their experience, so hopefully that’ll still be true if we ever need to use it.)