Pay for Pet Insurance, or Save for a Pet Emergency?

No one who has ever had a dog would debate me on the fact that dog ownership can get pretty expensive, pretty quickly.

Within the first few months of welcoming our freeloader roommate, The Dog, into the house, there was a nasty incident with a piece of glass in the forest, resulting in four stitches to a very sad paw and a $700 vet bill to my very sad savings account.

It's amazing how quickly you learn to change a bandage that can't get wet when The Dog makes a habit of stepping in his water dish.

It’s amazing how quickly you learn to change a bandage that can’t get wet when The Dog makes a habit of stepping in his water dish.

Luckily, I was able to pay for it straight away, and only had about three panic attacks about my poor baby and his poor paw. But it also gave me a bit of a scare, and I signed him up for pet insurance on the spot.

For $65 a month, The Dog would be covered up to $2500 for illness and accidents, which would take care of any other unforeseen injuries – hopefully, anyways.

Of course, since the universe loves a good laugh, the only thing we’ve had to claim since then was a $107 vet bill for a bite to his ear, and the deductible was $100.

When I sat down to review my recurring payments, I realized that if I combined the other payments I was cancelling with The Dog’s pet insurance payment, I could put away $100 a month into an emergency savings account specifically for vet bills. After two years, I’d have saved the same amount as he’s covered for right now.

So even though it felt like the ultimate in tempting fate, I cancelled The Dog’s insurance.

Here’s why it was a good, and ultimately safe choice, for The Dog and I right now.

I can afford to top up his emergency savings quickly.

With the $100 baseline savings in place, it’ll take me two years to get up to the same level of coverage, but after that, I’ll have an even better in-case-of-emergencies fund that will just keep growing. Additionally, with the new goal of saving half of my income, I’ll be upping my Dog Fund contributions to $200 a month, giving me just one year until the fund is as big as his coverage would have been.

I have my own emergency savings to cover costs if they pop up in the meantime.

I’m lucky to be in a solid place financially, so if something did come up, the money is available. Even beyond that, I never carry a credit card balance, and I have a fairly high credit limit, so in the worst case scenario I could put the bills on credit until accessing my emergency fund.

The Dog is a young and healthy mutt.

He gets all the preventative care bells and whistles, from annual vet checkups, to bloodwork, to flea, tick and heartworm medication every year. On top of that, all of his

See? Totally young and healthy. And spry - did I mention spry?

See? Totally young and healthy. And spry – did I mention spry?

tests have always been A+ perfect, he’s three years old, and he’s a mixed breed. Beyond all the benefits (frugal and otherwise) of adopting a mutt, he dodges many of the health risks that come standard with purebred dogs. All that to say is he’s pretty low risk at the moment, beyond the occasional accident.

For us, this was by far the right move, especially as I cross my fingers for many years of long, happy, accident-free life for The Dog and I. Even though it felt scary cancelling the insurance, if all goes well, we’ll have a decent stockpile in the Dog Fund by the end of the year, and it’ll keep growing until he needs it.

Have you ever had pet insurance? Did you find it worth the money?