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Is Pet Insurance Really Worth It? Your 101 Guide

Brittany VanDerBill  |  April 19, 2022

These days, pet owners have lots of pet insurance options. But what does pet insurance cover, and is it really worth buying?

World Health Day is just around the corner, which is a good reminder to check in on our healthcare. In addition to taking care of our own health, those of us who are pet parents also take care of our pets’ wellbeing. That of course includes the everyday things like ensuring pets are well fed, getting them exercise and spending some quality time together. But caring for pets also means making trips to the veterinarian, which can quickly get expensive. 

Pet insurance can be an option to help cover those vet bills, but is purchasing coverage a good idea? Let’s check in with two experts about coverage options and whether pet insurance is a good idea. 


There are tons of health insurance companies on the market these days, but the #1 highest rated company, according to U.S. News and World Report’s 2022 rating, is Healthy Paws. Healthy Paws was founded in 2009 to help pet owners deal with the financial obligation of caring for sick pets. (Healthy Paws also has a non-profit foundation that provides grants to shelters and rescue organizations.) 

Once you choose a health insurance company, you’ll need to decide what kind of coverage you want most — hundreds of different plans exist. Katie Krebs, DVM, DABVP (canine/feline) with Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, explains: “The plan that’s chosen determines what the insurance covers. There are multiple levels of coverage—some include only emergency and sick visits, some include wellness care and routine dental maintenance, and some even include costs of boarding a pet if their human is traveling!”

Sabrina Kong, Veterinarian for, mentions that most insurance coverage plans “are referred to as basic, enhanced, and premium.” She goes on to say that the plans may cover protection from accidents or illnesses. On the other hand, some plans are geared more toward covering regular checkups. 

But there’s one very important detail Kong highlights when it comes to pet insurance: “{M}ost commonly, pet insurance providers don’t cover pre-existing conditions in pets.”

Knowing that coverage types vary, it makes sense to read up on each option to determine what type of coverage is best for you and your pet. 


Both Krebs and Kong feel that in general, pet insurance is worth having. Krebs says, “Even as a veterinarian, I have pet insurance on both of my dogs (Zeus and Ruby are two 80 lb. Labrador mixes), and wholeheartedly believe that it is worth my money.”

Kong is of the general opinion that “pet insurance is the most useful to cover the cases of grave emergencies and accidents” rather than typical vet checkups. She adds that when pet owners adopt, they are obligated to keep the pet’s best interests in mind and take care of the pet. To that end, she says, “I don’t want to shame pet parents in any way, some of them might struggle financially and cannot afford insurance, but I think it’s generally more responsible to {get pet insurance} if you can afford it.”


Of course, you don’t have to purchase pet insurance. However, be aware of what could happen if you choose to skip it. Krebs points out that she carries pet insurance for her large breed dogs because the breed is known for knee issues that require surgery. She says this is “an expensive procedure, but a very curable problem, and I wouldn’t want my financial situation to limit my dog’s ability to get the care they need.”

She goes on to say, “I think that’s the main reason why pet insurance is a good idea for any pet—there are a lot of things that we can fix as veterinarians, but these things cost money, and it’s heartbreaking to not be able to help animals due to finances.”


For those who would rather not buy pet insurance, Krebs mentions that starting a savings account for your pet’s care can be a good alternative. However, she cautions that “more often than not, that money gets diverted elsewhere, especially if the pet is relatively healthy for most of their life.”

If you have the discipline to open a separate savings account for your pet’s care and can trust yourself not to spend that money, it could be an alternative to pet insurance. If you suspect you might be tempted to spend the money, it’s probably best not to rely on it for emergency pet care.


Making the choice to buy pet insurance is a personal one that can vary for every pet parent. As a pet owner, it’s terrible to see your pet suffer in any way. Buying pet insurance coverage could provide some peace of mind for you if your pet should need expensive medical care.

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