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In all honesty, I find it a hard question to answer.

I came from an upbringing where if your pet got seriously sick, you put it down. I don't judge on that. People saw pets as pets and people as people. No one spent thousands of dollars on pet care. It didn't make any sense to them.

Me though, I'm not that person. I can see myself spending thousands of dollars on pet-care and frankly I don't -have- thousands of dollars to spend. I can spend up the credit cards, but it would sure be nice to get some of that back if I could.

Right now we do not have pet insurance, but we are strongly considering it. It is one of those things that we may "regret" if we never use it, but we'd regret even more if we needed it and it wasn't there.

I think each person just needs to weigh the pros and cons for themselves, their financial situation, their pets, and so on.. and then make the decision as best they can.
 

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In our case, we got the least expensive "accident and serious illness only" insurance for just over $20 / month with PC Pet Insurance. I cannot justify some plans which ask for $45 - $60 / month. For me, more than anything, it is for peace of mind. I see it as forced saving / hedging my bets for when Max gets ill or injured. I do not have any illusions of pet insurance saving us money in the long run.
 

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we have had ins for about a year, we got it right after zoey came home to us. We use VPI, and have really good luck. We are both currently unemployed and full time students, so our budget is really tight. There is no way we could come up with a lot of money for something serious right away. The plan we bought was about $300 for the year. A couple months after we bought it, Zoey broke her leg. She was about 6 months old and we didnt even know how it happened. Anyway....the surgery itself, which had to be done, was over $1100. Plus xrays. She had to stay overnight, then go back for periodic check ups, back after the splint came off for a recheck, back after a few months for another xray to make sure it had healed right. Our only cost was $100 out of pocket. We had our check from VPI for the remainder within a week. So for us, it definitely felt worth it.
 

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This is always a tough question to answer, I think alot depends on your own financial situation (which can be looked at in 2 ways, I'll explain in a minute), how many pets you have, and various other factors. As far as the financial situation goes - If you're doing OK, but don't have alot of back up, or you can barely manage pet insurance but can afford a cheaper policy, I'd highly recommend it, as one serious illness or accident will almost certainly cost you several hundred, especially if you end up at the ER! If you're doing good financially, have the money and/or a credit card to handle any unexpected vet bills, and you don't have a dog you're anticipating having any trouble with, pet insurance might not pay off. That said, if you've got the money to handle any unexpected vet bills, but you don't want to become financially burdened with a huge bill and would like to get part of that expense back, pet insurance may or may not be a good choice.

As soon as I can recover financially from Aiyana, I plan to insure most of my animals. Let me explain why, keep in mind this is just MY experience, I certainly hope that most people never go through what I've been through in the last few months!!

At this time last year, I had 5 seemingly healthy dogs, I knew Aiyana had some chronic health problems but they seemed to be well managed and she hadn't had any problems in a while. I also had 4 seemingly healthy cats. I felt with the number of pets I had, pet insurance would never pay off. I had a few thousand put away in a special account just for any emergencies that came up. I thought I was prepared to handle any emergencies that could come up. Then in September, my home caught on fire, and set off a long run of problems I'm still struggling to get ahold of financially. The fire, of course, ment I had to take all my babies in and have them checked out and made sure they where OK and had to have a few of them treated, but thankfully I didn't loose any of them. Sadly insurance companies don't really care about pets, so I had to put out the money to board some of my animals while I worked on finding more affordable temporary housing for them. Some pet insurance companies have an allowance for that. That was the least of my worries, I could handle the boarding for the short time.

Come the first of November, I knew it was going to be at least another 4 months before the insurance company finished fixing my home. Lola had returned to her co-owner for the time, but my other afghan, Jamie, had nowhere to go but the boarding kennel at a vet clinic I thought I could trust. Sadly, late one evening I got a call that Jamie had gotten away from them (because they hadn't followed my instructions! I'm still VERY angry about her death :( ). Jamie ran straight into the highway, and was hit by an SUV. I rushed to the vet clinic, spent 3 sleepless days by her side. They didn't charge me for the emergency care, but after 3 days of the vet saying "lets just give her another day and see" I knew I had to do something, and called a neurologist, got Jamie in, and he confirmed my worst fears. Jamie's spinal cord had been completely severed, there was nothing we could do to save her from a life of extreme pain and discomfort, I knew I had no choice but to let her go.

A week to the day after Jamie was hit, Aiyana became extremely sick. Hundreds of dollars in bloodwork, testing, ultrasounds, x-rays, my vet had no idea what was wrong. We'd put her on IVs, she'd get better, take her off, she'd crash. That went on for 2 weeks before I finally took her to another vet, the same vet I'm still using for her now! Aiyana had had a couple episodes like this before, but never this bad or for this long, I knew something was seriously wrong. She recognized the signs of Addisons at once, and tested her - We had our answer. But getting her stable was another story! For nearly another month, we had to frequently have Aiyana on IV fluids, kept adjusting her meds, battling to get ahead. By the middle of December, I'd spent over $8,000 in vet bills between her regular vet, specialist consults that my vet called in to her clnic, and a few emergency vet visits, but Aiyana was finally starting to do better. Then just 5 days before Christmas, another tragedy hit, my friend thought it was OK to let my old IG, Treasure, out with her cavaliers. They attacked Treasure for some reason, I rushed her to the ER, where they cleaned her bite wounds, put her on antibiotics, and since I had an infusion pump and all the right equipment, decided I could take her home on IV fluids for the night and take her to my regular vet. By the next morning, I thought Treasure was going to be OK, she seemed alert, ate, and was pretty responsive. I took her to a vet closer to where I was staying, and thought she'd be ok there and went to work. That afternoon I returned and found she'd started seizing. BAD :( They'd been fighting to control her seizures, but weren't having much luck. 5 long days I stayed by her side, and either she was so drugged she couldn't function, or she was seizing, with very little middle ground. 5 days later, it was clear Treasure was dying despite our best efforts, desperate to save her I rushed her to my regular vet, who confirmed my fears, there was nothing more we could do, her body was shutting down. I spent a few thousand between MRIs, bloodwork, ICU care, emergency bills, etc trying to save Treasure, but just 5 days before Christmas, I was forced to say goodbye yet again.

Aiyana continued to roller coaster, I continued to spend at least $500 a month trying to keep her stable while we got her meds worked out. Then in January, we hit another crisis, she developed a massive abscess from sub q fluids she'd been given, and her poor weak body nearly couldn't handle it. She had to have emergency surgery to put drains in to deal with the abscess, but her heart was weak. Called in an internal medicine specialist, did an echo and found a heart problem we addressed, did the emergency surgery but all didn't go well, the abscess had pulled to much protein and sugar from her body, she was crashing fast, emergency plasma transfusions where done, but for a good week she teetered on the edge in ICU. That episode alone ended up costing me about $4,000, but thankfully she survived. By this point, all my reserve was gone, and I was getting stressed about how I'd handle any more vet bills!

Then comes March, my house was finally ready to move back into, I moved back with the dogs, leaving my cats in my friends care while I got things moved back in and the house ready for the cats. A week later I get a call from my friend saying Osiris was dying, she'd been gone all day and had come home to find him nearly dead. I immediately had her rush him to the closest vet, and she wasn't kidding, his body temp was extremely low, and he as in very critical condition. Heated IV fluids and emergency care kept him alive, but still couldn't keep his temp up. A week went by, and he continued to struggle. He was barely hanging on, if the fluid stopped, he'd crash hard. I took him to an internal medicine specialist, who diagnosed enlarged kidneys, lots of fluid in his abdomen, but no reason for either. After another week in ICU I brought him home, still hooked to IVs, and prepared to loose him. I decided to switch him to raw, and for some reason that worked AMAZING, and suddenly he started improving, a week later we took him off the IV, and he's continued to improve since! It was wonderful - But again I'd spend several thousand and maxed out my cards saving his life.

And of course many of you know what's going on with Aiyana's latest crisis, set off by Pyometra. I've spent over $1000 on her in the last week. I had no insurance on any of my babies, and I've spent over $20,000 in vet care in the last 9 months. I wish I'd had insurance, and I wouldn't have the financial problems I'm now having.

Now lets look at the flip side. In May, I decided to bring a new life into the house with little Sara. As soon as I decided I was bringing her home, I put insurance on her before I did anything else. A week after bringing her home, I turned my back on her for 1 minute, and she decided to go flying off the couch and broke her leg. It was a really nasty break very near the growth late, 2 different vets had told me that the fracture was to bad for them to even attempt to repair, so I took her to an orthopedic specialist to have surgery to repair it. I knew laser therapy would speed her healing, and physical therapy would help her regain as much range of motion as possible. Her bills so far have run almost $4,000. With her insurance, I've only had to cover 20% of that minus the $100 deductible, and took a huge financial strain off me so I could insure she got absolutely everything she needed for a quick and full recovery. If I had not insured her, I don't think I could have managed even the surgery, most likely she would have had to loose her leg.

Am I saying everyone should have insurance? No, but I think it's a great idea! If Aiyana had been insured, I'd be thousands of dollars ahead right now, since she wasn't and now has been diagnosed with a couple different chronic health conditions, I am still going to insure her, but her insurance won't cover much! I never want to be forced into a decision about the quality of care my pets will receive because of my inability to pay.
 

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Wow theres a lot to think about there, some heartbreaking stories. It's something Iv'e often thought about but never taken action on.
 

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We have had two large claims filed, at this point our reimbursement has exceeded our premium. The reimbursement was worth about 4yrs premium, it's paid for itself.
 

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I really believe it is. I just got a puppy a few months ago and with his first vet check up, we got a free month with zero deductible insurance from Trupanion. Sadly enough, I had to use it for a stomach bug which cost me about 330, that of which I was reimbursed 225.

I decided to go with Trupanion permanently because of a few reasons: easy online navigation, really quick payments and easy claims, no caps, one plan to choose from, and because my puppy is so young, I could include hip displasia coverage. IMO for regular check ups, coverage is superfluous, but for accidents, its a good idea.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
These are some great posts... thanks so much for the advice! I think I'm going to go with Embrace but Trupanion seems like a good pick as well. I didn't like VPI's offering because they have a benefits schedule and it doesn't look like they would cover the full cost of a major claim (maybe my vet is too expensive!)
Thanks Again!
 

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I think it depends on the dog. If your dog is super active, accident prone, or if you engage in risky activities (like one of the many K9 sports out there), then I think it's worth it. If your dog never leaves your property, it's probably a waste of money.

I have insurance because my dog likes to do this:
 
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