Budget-Buster: Should You Buy Pet Insurance?

As a credit repair writer, I try to follow my own advice when it comes to personal finance. I save aggressively, carry no credit card debt and bargain shop whenever possible. Enter the pets…

My husband and I adopted two Bengal cats in the past year. Bengals are a specialty breed, a cross between an Asian leopard and a domestic cat. Highly intelligent and energetic, keeping these pets is a full-time job. While we weren’t looking for a high-maintenance breed, we were sold after discovering the hypoallergenic nature of their pelt-like furs (Note: My husband is a walking Claritin commercial). Despite our adoration for Safi and Gilligan, we quickly realized that their care was spiking our usually-conservative budget:

Year One Expenses

Breeder fees: $1,300
Spay/neuter fees and wellness care: $300
Post-surgery pain medication: $100
Xanax: $50 for 20 pills (Safi has issues…)
Grooming supplies: $45
Monthly food cost: $55
Monthly litter cost: $15
Monthly toy and treat allowance: $10

Total: $2,710

Yikes. If you read the blog, you know we could have done a lot with this cash, including:

  • Saved for retirement
  • Paid down my student loans
  • Invested in home improvements
  • Gone to Vegas

You get the idea. Alas, we love our kittens and aren’t willing to give them up, but the question remains, should we buy pet insurance?

I researched the topic after snarling at the latest vet bill. On average, we’ll spend about $300 a year on healthcare and medication for our Bengals. Insurance plans range from $5.61 to $67.14 a month for cats with deductibles from $50 to $200. Unless Safi takes another “I can fly!” dive off the second story bannister, it’s clear that pet insurance isn’t the best choice for us. That said, it could fit your pets’ needs if they are victims of:

  • Chronic illness. Chronic conditions like allergies, diabetes or cancer can cost thousands of dollars in ongoing care. Sadly, many owners choose to euthanize their pets because they cannot afford the high price. Consider looking into pet insurance if your furry friend receives a poor diagnosis. Your early efforts could make all the difference. 
  • Aging. Older animals often require special food and medical attention. Comprehensive coverage could temper the cost of ongoing care. 
  • Frequent accidents. Clumsiness isn’t exclusive to humans. An accident-prone pet can erase your savings quickly. Avoid sharp objects (and second-story bannisters). If that fails, it’s time to invest in a financial safety net.

The bottom line: Don’t allow vet bills to curb your pet-loving enthusiasm. Protect their health and your wallet by making a wise decision.