This is something I have wanted to do for a while, but waited until it was less emotionally loaded. When Grace passed on July 2nd, I knew I would write a post on the costs associated with her life regarding pet insurance and vet bills. Not only to satiate my own curiosity about pet insurance premiums vs. payouts over her life, but to share my experience.
My expectation is that what I paid out in premiums will be on par with what I was reimbursed. Let’s see, shall we?
I owned Grace for 4.5 years. I adopted her at 8 years old. You can read her adoption story here. I can’t, cause I’m trying to keep my stuff together in the middle of the coffee shop where I am writing!
But here. Have a picture:
Unfortunately, shortly after she passed I purged a lot of her paperwork. The information regarding the claims is easily found on the the company’s website, but what her annual premiums were is missing for a few years.
I know 2019 at the age of 12, her annual policy was $1,088. She passed in July, so I paid out through June only for a total of $544. I know her first policy in 2015 was $815. I’m going to extrapolate that the 2016/2017/2018 was an average of the two at $950. Please account for this as a margin of error in the final numbers.
Over Grace’s life I paid out $4,209 in pet insurance premiums. The premiums go up as your dog ages, no matter the number of claims filed. A young dog’s annual premium is much smaller. This is bore out by my previous article on Imri, my labrador and his pet insurance history. My perception was that I had not spent quite so much on her premiums. It’s always interesting when perception and reality collide.
Now we have the premium total, let’s look into claims! Grace had far fewer claims filed on her behalf because for the first couple years I had her she was in good health other than a couple UTI’s. She only had 21 claims.
A quick, copy/paste into an excel spreadsheet and a click of the sum button gives me this total: $6,839.33. Which, again, was more than I expected.
Even with the margin of error based on my loss of data for her annual premium, I still pulled ahead. My pet insurance company reimbursed me thousands more than I paid out. That is terrific, but what is really important to me? I NEVER HAD TO MAKE A DECISION FOR GRACE’S HEALTH BASED ON COST. As a pet parent, that is one of the most horrible situations you can face. You give your dog the less effective treatment, because you can’t afford the quality care. You euthanize your dog, because you can’t afford the cost of something easily repaired. That guilt is a burden I wish no one to bear.
I gave her the best care available. I made no choices based on the cost, but solely this: what was best for Grace. What offered the best results? What would impact her quality of life?
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that there were a lot of costs that were NOT covered by my pet insurance from Nationwide. The supplements I purchased including: goat milk, fermented fish stock, Honest Kitchen perfect form, and more. The huge variety of foods (including crazy expensive boutique foods) I went through trying to find one she could eat. The prescription diet she was on for a while and eventually the liquid diet.
When she died, the half bottles of this, and one scoop out of that, the range of jars and bottles and cans, was incredible. What my labrador could benefit from, he received (in fact is still receiving the last of it four months later), and what he couldn’t was donated to Old Dog Haven. They are an amazing rescue that fosters senior pets 8+. They received her medications and supplements/foods. I hope to one day work with them as a foster or final refuge home.
Final thoughts: For me, even if the math had turned out differently – say I paid more in premiums than in care – I would still be happy with my decision. That emotional burden is simply too much for me to carry. I know that about myself – that I can’t be practical in that manner – and therefore, I insure against myself I suppose. In a manner. But I also know as someone with low income – currently living on my SSDI of $896 a month – that just a couple hundred dollar vet bill could be devastating. A few thousand would cripple me for years. I see pet insurance as a responsible decision for a low income pet parent. Our pets didn’t choose us, we chose them. Commit to caring for them responsibly.
PS: I am unaffiliated with Nationwide/ or any other pet insurance company. I am just a happy client of over a decade. Policies and their coverage may differ based on your state. In Washington, I receive 100% reimbursement up to the limit of the policy for the incident/illness after my $100 deductible.
I’m so sorry for the loss of Grace. I’ve been there before and know how painful it is. I also dread the day I lose my beloved little dog. Over the past few years, I’ve agonized over the decision to get pet insurance, not knowing if it’d be worth it. Instead, I banked the money in the hopes I’ll never need it. But you never know what might happen. I’m glad you found a great shelter to support with all the things you didn’t use. And, again, I’m sorry about Grace.
Thank you for your kind words. Grief is a roller coaster – that’s for sure.
All I ever hope is that pet parents with a decent income have a savings for their pet.
As someone low income, who isn’t actually allowed to have savings, it isn’t possible for me.
I think it is like any insurance – so grateful when you use it and resentful when you don’t!
It is the best option for me, but not for everyone.
Old dog haven is amazing and I wish more people knew they could donate their pets prescriptions after they pass. Maybe I should work on that…
Thank you so much for your kind comment. Welcome to my page!
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I agree. Once my neighbor told me about his $20k vet bill, I decided to take action and start a savings account. Part of me still considers pet insurance, but I’m still okay with saving with for her. Let’s spresd the word about donating old pet prescriptions to help others. 😊
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