I have mixed feelings about veterinary insurance and I really don't know much about the topic. But one of realities of veterinary life is that a lot of pets don't get needed care because the owners don't have any (or enough) money set aside for the medical care of their pets.
There are several possible reasons associated with this truth:
1. The biggest cause, of course, is that most people are irresponsible in general; they don't plan for retirement, they don't plan for their children's education, they don't purchase medical, disability, or legal insurance, they don't buy auto insurance if they can get away with it, and they can't resist spending on credit for immediate gratification.
Not only don't they have any savings, they're maxed out in consumer debt. They somehow seem to go through life with a faint hope (despite much evidence to the contrary) that there won't be any expensive set backs in their life. Veterinary Insurance is not likely to help these people...because they won't buy it. The reason they're unlikely to buy it is not because they don't want it ...they'll just put it off in favor of "more important stuff"
It seems irresponsible that people have pets in the first place. Well, that's more or less true, but pets are irresistable.
What's really irresponsible is the fantasy of how great the pet will be if they get it. Somehow, in their minds, they picture themselves with a beautiful, loyal, healthy, perfectly obedient companion. Sure, they logically know that for this to happen they will need to spend a lot of effort, time, and money training and caring for this new pet ... and their intentions are good, but you know how that goes.
2. Despite my harsh remarks above, I have an open mind, and talking to 30 plus people a day about their pet problems and the costs involved in trying to help their pet, it's not too unusual for people who have a history of taking good care of ther pet suddenly find themselves in financial trouble. Typical examples of sudden financial hardship involve divorces, job loss, and major illness, and because of this stressful setback the family pet is now more important to the emotional health of the owner than ever. This would be a situation where having had the foresight to have pet insurance might make the difference on whether a pet got needed care or not.
3. The biggest reason for being in favor of pet insurance for pets is for those situations where responsible people who have a history of taking good care of their pets suddenly find themselves with a pet which has a serious injury or illness that requires hundreds ... and sometimes several thousand ...of dollars in medical treatment. I know that many pets are euthanized in this situation simply because the grieving owners cannot afford to spend "that kind of money". (especially when the pet is older or has a fair chance of dying even with treatment, which is often the case.)
What are my reservations about pet insurance? I'm not sure I can articulate them very well, but I suspect that if pet insurance becomes common place, I'm afraid the small general practice as we know it will become obsolete and replaced by clinics with more professional administrators and managers than actual veterinarians.
I predict that there would be a whole bunch of bureaucratic and goverment overseers keeping track of everything. I bet there would be a great increase in the presence of lawyers and lawsuits. Because of potential lawsuits, I bet that no longer will vets hire bright young student workers who dream of being a vet someday, but rather will have to hire "certified" technicians.
I bet as a result of both the fear of lawsuits and the hope of making more money, a lot of unneeded lab testing, xrays, and medication will be performed.
If even some of these predictions become true, guess what; it's going to cost hundreds and even several thousands of dollars for even routine pet problems.
Every time a rambuctious young dog comes in with a limp, not only will it get x-rays, but an MRI as well and we'll end up with the same costly spiral that we see in human medicine: to pay for all the added staff, administrators, technicians, and malpractice insurance, veterinary fees in general will go up (a lot).
To pay for these higher fees, pet insurance premiums will go up (a lot). What we end up with is the same problem we had hoped to solve by promoting pet insurance: more and more pets will end up without needed vet care because average people will no longer be able to afford either a typical vet visit or the insurance. Whoo boy!
Despite my reservations about what pet insurance will do to our quaint profession, it sure would be nice to have if you had a pet you loved that needed expensive veterinary care.
The following Pet Insurance companies are the major players in the business.