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Is Pet Insurance Worth it During Economic Inflation?
By: Brianna Gunter | Updated July 19, 2023
Economic inflation is a hot topic these days, and you’re not alone if you feel overwhelmed by rising costs. Naturally, this can make you want to make cutbacks wherever possible. But should pet insurance be on the list of things to trim?
With pet-related expenditures not being immune to inflation, it’s a relevant question. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, veterinary care costs increased a whopping 9.3% between 2021 and 2022 alone. A survey of 1,000 pet parents conducted by Veterinarians.org meanwhile found that 46% of pet owners had to "forego or delay veterinary procedures or treatments for their pet" as a result of inflation.
Naturally, it’s tempting to want to get rid of pet insurance at this time if your dog or cat is healthy. But before you do, there are some important things to consider. The truth is, jumping too quickly to slash your budget could end up costing you more in the long run.
Giving up pet insurance too soon
Ditching your monthly pet insurance costs can seem like a quick way to save. However, doing so can put your pet at risk of less coverage should you decide to re-enroll later on. This is because the vast majority of pet insurance providers do not cover pre-existing conditions.
Pre-existing conditions are anything that was diagnosed or showing clinical signs prior to enrolling in your policy. If you have pet coverage for Fifi now and she’s been treated for hip dysplasia, your decision to end coverage will result in that condition being considered pre-existing for future insurance plans.
What is economic inflation, anyway?
In order to further understand the importance of pet insurance during inflation, it’s worth discussing what’s happening with the modern economy.
Simply put, economic inflation is the overall increase in prices of goods and services throughout society. The currency used within the affected economy dips in value as a result, lowering the purchasing power of monetary units (10 dollars today does not “go as far” as it did several years ago).
While slow, gradual inflation can be expected over time, economic instability can cause sudden and unexpected increases in prices that far exceed “normal” trajectory rates.
This is where many people start feeling the pinch to their wallets, but jumping on “save quick” ideas can make things even more unaffordable later on. For example, getting insurance for your puppy now may be of higher value over time than it will be if you try to enroll when they are an aging adult dog with multiple health problems.
Inflation and veterinary care costs
The issue of rising veterinary treatment costs is not a simple matter of veterinarians increasing their prices because they feel like it. There are multiple reasons for veterinary inflation beyond animal hospital control. To start, the demand for veterinary services has risen considerably over the years — particularly as pet ownership spiked during the COVID pandemic.
At the same time, veterinary hospitals are dealing with staffing issues and burnout. There’s also the fact that veterinary medicine has made significant advances over the years. Just as human treatment is complex and often calls for expensive equipment, diagnosing and treating dogs and cats is possible thanks to hefty research and technological advances. All of this contributes to increasing cost of care, and it’s also why investing in quality pet insurance can be a great idea in the first place.
When is pet insurance worth it?
The best time to get pet insurance is while your dog or cat is still young (more on this in a moment). But if you don't already have pet health coverage, you probably have a lot of questions before you're ready to enroll. For example, why is pet insurance important in the first place, and what happens if you don’t have it? Most importantly, is it worth enrolling during inflation?
Every pet parent’s situation is different, but for many, the answer to the latter is surprisingly “yes.”
The main reason for this is because of the security that a good pet health insurance plan provides. When a dog or cat need treatment for something unexpected, uninsured pet owners have to go outside of their normal veterinary care budget and pay out of pocket. In cases where the treatment costs are extensive, pet owners may find themselves having to choose between their personal finances and their pet's health. The right pet insurance plan prevents this scenario by taking care of these excess expenses.
The younger dogs and cats are when enrolled in pet insurance, the more value they'll get from it due to the lower likelihood of pre-existing conditions. The truth is that healthy pets of any age are still at risk of surprise illnesses and injuries, and when that happens, there’s often not much time to think about how to afford care. And in times of economic inflation, there may be even less wiggle room in the average pet owner’s budget.
The difference between wellness plans and medical insurance for pets
One of the key factors in determining whether or not pet insurance is worth it during inflation is the kind of policy you’re looking at. Wellness coverage is usually cheaper and covers routine costs like vaccines and wellness checkups. However, it typically does not cover “big ticket” costs like surgery, serious diseases, and other surprise conditions.
Medical insurance for pets meanwhile appears costlier upfront, but it can provide more value to pet parents over time. By covering unexpected illnesses and injuries instead of covering routine costs, pet medical insurance allows many pet parents to plan more effectively for their pal’s care.
Look closely at any plan you’re considering and make the decision that works best for your budget and lifestyle.
5 Ways to save on pet expenses during inflation
Ultimately, the decision to keep or un-enroll from your pet’s health insurance is your own. However, there may be better ways to save on pet expenses during difficult economic times:
- Make sure you have the right pet insurance. Always do your research (this comparison guide can help) before picking a provider, and know that “low cost” does not necessarily correlate with high value.
- Keep up with routine vet visits. Your pet’s regular wellness checkup and other routine veterinary care needs are vital in helping spot serious conditions early and helping them stay healthy overall.
- Avoid splurging on new toys—your pet may be perfectly happy with what they already have, and you can always try out some DIY toy ideas.
- Walk your dog yourself. Dog walkers are wonderful for many pets who might not otherwise get enough exercise. But if you have the time and capability, consider cutting back on this expense.
- Save on pet food by buying in bulk, looking for subscription box discounts, or even making your own food at home (after consulting with your veterinarian, of course!)
Want more information on the importance of pet insurance and how it can be valuable during inflation? See why Trupanion doesn’t impose payout limits.