Pet insurance may seem like a fairly new concept, but it's been around for quite awhile. In 1982, Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) issued the first insurance policy to a pet in the United States. That pet just happened to be Lassie, the most famous canine television star in the world [source: Embrace Pet Insurance]. More than 25 years later, the popularity of pet insurance has skyrocketed.
Pet insurance may seem like an unnecessary expense to most pet owners, but the American Veterinary Medical Association reports that Americans alone spent more than $24.5 billion on pet health care in 2006 [source: AVMA]. That raises the question: How much could you afford to spend if your pet had a medical emergency?
As veterinary science continues to advance, procedures and equipment that haven't always been accessible to veterinarians are becoming more readily available. As a result, veterinary bills continue to rise. In fact, some new procedures cost more than $5,000 [source: Weston].
If you're considering pet insurance, you may want to consider this: The average monthly cost of insuring a dog, one of the more expensive pets to insure, is $28. That's roughly $336 a year. In 2006, the cost of veterinary care in American households for all pets averaged $366 [source: AVMA].
It's important to understand that paying for the insurance won't cover all of your veterinary expenses. You still have to pay deductibles and co-pays, and you'll have to limit how much your policy will pay out yearly, but it may not cost much more than you're already spending annually. In the event of a major emergency, it could save you thousands.
If you're the type of person who would go into debt to save your pet's life, pet insurance might be a better alternative to the poorhouse. There are a number of companies that offer affordable policies to suit your specific pet. We'll learn about those, and more, on the next page.