To insure or not to insure your new pet: that is the question!
Should you insure your pet?
Some of you may have been in this position: your pet gets sick and you are at the vets, you know it will be expensive but aren’t sure how much. First it’s £500, then £1,000 then £2,000 then £5,000. Costs can rapidly escalate when treating pets, especially in complex cases. Before you know it, you can face a huge bill. For those with appropriate insurance (we will get to that later) they can relax because they know that their policy will cover all the treatments and all they have to worry about is the excess (much like with a claim when you crash your car). But for those who aren’t insured, where do you draw the line? How much can you afford to borrow? Do you crowdfund like so many do nowadays to pay for a treatment?
No vet or nurse ever wants to be in the position where we are having a conversation with our clients about treatment options only to find out that they can’t afford the treatment options. These conversations literally suck. I have been in a few of them over the years and it literally breaks my heart to think that an animal’s survival potentially comes down to affordability.
Our pets are part of the family, but the sad reality is that veterinary treatment is expensive and sometimes, if the right treatments can’t be paid for then the hard decision has to be made to put that animal to sleep. And I can tell you, while it is horrendous for pet parents, it is also soul destroying to us a vets and nurses to know that there is something that could have been done for that animal if only it could be paid for.
If we cared we would do it for free…
Before anyone says ‘if you really cared you would just do it for free’, let me stop you there. We would love to, genuinely, if money was no object then everything in life would be a lot easier would it not? The biggest cause of stress to many veterinary practices nowadays is outstanding debt from customers who haven’t paid their bills for treatments.
When you go shopping do you say at the counter ‘if you really cared you would do it for free’? How about to the window cleaner, the gas man, the milkman, at the petrol station….you see what I mean?
Things cost money. There are the staff costs, the medications, the equipment, the training to learn to perform procedures, not to mention the £50k + of debt that any new graduate vet carries into working life with them. The reality is that if we did everything for free, our businesses would collapse and there would be no vets anymore! Then where would we be?
Believe me, vets would love to give every animal on this planet the best treatments available at every opportunity and we long for a world where one day that may be the case! Part of that is why we set up VidiVet.
Sadly, there is not an NHS for pets (if you live outside the UK, the NHS is a phenomenal institution that people fund via their taxes but it makes medical care in the UK free at the point of care). But even the NHS is paid for by our taxes, so you pay indirectly to receive free at the point of care treatment (you just don’t notice it other than when you open your payslips to see how much you had before tax and how much is left afterwards).
‘Is your pet insured?’ said the vet…
When your vet asks you if your pet is insured, it isn’t because we want to do every test and treatment under the sun or we want to hike up our fees (the fees are the same whether you are insured or not) it is because it allows us to do those tests without worrying if it is a choice between you paying for treatment and feeding your kids!
As a UK population, only 30% of pets are insured, and that comes as no great surprise as it isn’t a cheap thing! Not to mention that it is a bit of a minefield in pricing the right policy. In the USA less than 5% are insured!
Note: not all insurance policies are created equal. Some are cheap, and that may limit your cover. I know it is boring but always READ THE POLICY to check what you are covered for!
This blog isn’t going to tell you which policy to buy, we can’t do that as everyone has different circumstances. What it will do is give you some home truths.
So what does the author do?
I think it is always important for a writer to give some context to a blog content.
I have had dogs all of my life. Insurance wasn’t so much of a thing when I was growing up so our first dog Susie was never insured. She died aged 17 and barely had a day’s ill health in her life.