During a recent SAGE Wilderness First Aid talk at REI, pet owners shifted the conversation to pet insurance. One owner commented that $70 or more a month seemed like a lot to spend on something you may never need or use. SAGE Redwood City surgeon Colleen McCoy had a helpful solution:

If you don’t want to send $70 to a pet insurance company every month, set it aside in a special bank account just for your pet. It will be there when you need it. At the end of your pet’s life, you can use any funds left in this savings account in your pet’s memory.

Several attendees applauded this idea. But for those who want to purchase pet insurance, questions abound. Whether you’re considering pet insurance or not, remember that animals can suffer from unexpected injuries and illnesses just as humans can, so it makes sense to consider potential, long-term costs. Consider this: The average lifespan of a Labrador Retriever is 12 years. A $70 monthly premium would result in a $10,080 total premium cost over the Labrador Retriever’s lifetime. This is a breed that is susceptible to cranial cruciate ligament disease, which can be resolved with tibial-plateau-leveling osteotomy (TPLO) surgery. One surgery will have an approximate total cost of the lifetime insurance premiums, and some pet insurance companies will cover 90% of eligible treatments and procedures with no lifetime maximum. That is some very compelling data!

In a perfect world, we will never need or use insurance. But when you do need it, it can play a critical role in determining the care an animal receives. We answer some of the top questions pet owners ask in our blog post here. For those who want to compare insurance plans, we’ve found a chart created by the industry trade publication DVM 360 that looks at several carriers. Read DVM 360s full story here and their comparison chart here.