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Pet Insurance


Hey everyone! I’m back. The budget is still a work in progress (bad debt blogger!), but I am on vacation and haven’t opened a computer since Friday. Today, I decided to talk about something else weighing on my financial mind. Pet insurance is another good example of how emotion plays in to financial decision making. Additionally, enjoy some photos of Rosie swimming yesterday! 🙂

The increasing cost of pet ownership

I received a note from my dog’s insurance company that her deductible is going up to $500 a year (from its current $300), because that’s the rate for dogs 5-10 years old. Her monthly premium is also going up to $60, from $54. I’ve shopped around, and this is the best plan I can find for our needs. This is a competitive rate for a large breed middle-aged dog who hasn’t been insured since puppyhood.

I struggle with the monthly cost, which feels like a waste. We didn’t meet the $300 mark this year (her submittable bills were $180), so I haven’t been reimbursed a cent for vet visits in 2019. However, the $60/month isn’t a hardship for me, and I don’t have savings for my dog’s care. If she was sick or injured and needed a few thousands dollars of vet care tomorrow, I’d put that on my credit card in a heartbeat. I know that isn’t smart for me financially, and that’s why I have insurance. This plan covers her medical bills up to 90%.

Based on her age and borderline giant size, she will almost certainly be having hip or leg issues soon. Many dogs at her size and activity level tear their ACL at some point, which can be a $10k injury. I wouldn’t put that on my credit card. I’d never pay that off. But putting my dog down because of a torn ACL would cause me profound guilt and grief. That’s how I am justifying this ridiculous insurance cost right now.

Details of the plan

Rosie’s plan includes 90% of her medical bills covered up to $30k once the deductible is met. She also gets $300/year of dental work with no deductible or co-pay, fully covered euthanasia and cremation/burial costs, and some other benefits. Skin lumps, cancerous or not, will not be covered because they were a pre-existing condition. I am going to call the insurance company to try and get the rate lowered (hey, it’s worth a shot). I’ll also ask them for tips on how to make the most of the plan. The vet says she doesn’t need dental work, so we can’t even use that benefit. Her teeth are perfect from eating raw meaty bones!

Would I get pet insurance again?

My next dog will have a savings fund before I even adopt the dog. I’ll tuck away $150/month for their care. But for Rosie, I don’t have that option and I don’t want to end up in the hole if she gets sick. I hate seeing the monthly fee for the insurance on the credit card statement, but I can’t save aggressively enough for full medical care.

She’s my family. Not everyone will understand that, but I know most of you do, and I love you all for that.

We are using Pet Secure. I think we have the best plan, but I’d love to hear from readers who have experiences with other pet insurance plans. How do you make sure your pet is covered in case of emergency, while also protecting yourself financially? How do I make the right decisions going forward, having made some mistakes with pet care in the past?

Some Good News


Editorial Note: This was supposed to be posted August 8th but as I mentioned yesterday, a couple of my posts got lost! I will have a real-time update for you tomorrow. 

My dog (and savings) are mostly okay

The vet examined Rosie on Wednesday and it was good news. He removed the questionable lump while she was awake (saving me money on anesthesia!). He took a look at it under a microscope and said it was just a cyst that had become infected. Good news! He inspected her other lumps and said they were fine as well. This was one of our most expensive visits to date, totaling $236. The vet prescribed three medications to address her whole-body rash and the wound from the lump removal. You can see in this picture below, there is a wound on her back. She’s bandaged up now and doing great.

Rosie vet

I am so relieved, especially about the corn cobs she ate. Those are one of the most common causes of bowel obstruction surgery. Rosie had corn cobs stuck in her belly for three and a half days, and we are beyond lucky that they came up naturally (there was one full-sized cob and two half-sized ones – that’s a lot of food to have stuck inside you for so long!).

Budget implications

Rosie has insurance, but since I purchased it, she hasn’t been sick. Typical, right? She has a $300/year deductible so I won’t get any money back from this visit, but I submitted it so that if she is sick again, we will receive coverage. I haven’t figured out if I can pull the money for this vet visit from other categories yet. I shouldn’t need any clothes, cat medical supplies, or household stuff this month, but I’ve already blown my entertainment budget and it’s only August 9th. If I can be lean with my groceries and find a bit of money from side hustles, I might be able to swing this payment without touching my savings or adding to my debt.

Spending Challenges

I have been tracking my spending. Why is this so difficult? Facing spending realities is really hard. I am over budget for entertainment, and already almost at my limit for groceries. I used to be a perfectionist with meal planning, but work is ruining all of that right now. I’m putting in 13-14 hour days plus commuting, and I have a house to clean and animals to take care of when I get home. I haven’t watched TV or listened to podcasts in weeks. I have no free time, and my budget is suffering for it. This is my reality for at least another few weeks, so I am going to keep tracking spending diligently. Hope has been posting money challenges. If I am being realistic, my biggest challenge this month will be not to add to my debt. Having my honest spending data in front of me will help inform my next goals. I’ve only been tracking nine days so far, and it’s already staggering.

Side hustles?

This morning I received a message for a dog-sitting gig that would pay $132. The owner is looking for someone to sleep at her house for a few days mid-month. I actually have help with my pets this month, so I can swing this gig! Fingers crossed it works out. I also have a lead on a friend of a friend who needs a room for a few weeks starting August 15th! I know this person, so it won’t be a stranger in my house.