According to the Humane Society, over 60 percent of U.S. households have a pet. Yet even though our furry friends are everywhere, pet insurance is another story. Only one percent of America’s pets are covered. Compare that with roughly 25 percent in the U.K. and nearly 50 percent in Sweden, and you can’t help but ponder … what gives?

Now, I’m just a simple human man, lacking the expertise to tackle this humdinger. But, as chance would have it, I’m a human man who owns a pet. And so, brimming with energy, I recently approached my dog, Lucille, about a one-on-one interview separating pet insurance facts from myths. After a brief 14-hour napping delay, she granted me a spot on the goose down comforter of what would prove a hotbed of insight.

Lucille, thanks again for agreeing to lie down for this. Good Doggie!

Listen, old man. Don’t get too comfy. You’ve got 15 minutes before I’m due at the window for some pretty intense staring.

Well, I don’t want to keep you, so let me start by asking: What are people missing when it comes to pet insurance? 

I’ve read the “expert” accounts from humans on why you need pet insurance. They all miss the most important point.

Which is?

Forget that junk about unconditional love or companionship. Puhleeze! A pet’s real objective in life — and I’m risking my sweet hide giving up this insider secret — is costing their owners money when they least expect it. I mean, we’re unpredictable! Why just last week, I tried to eat an entire sock whole. Not even soaked in chicken broth. Pets are always a whisker away from harm (and from sticking you poor saps with the bill).

Then why do most pet owners pass on insurance? Is it hard to find or too expensive? 

Balderdash! There’s been a tenfold boom in pet insurers during the last decade. And plans can often be as low as around 25 bucks a month. Now, my brain may only be the size of a 2-year-old child’s — thanks again for that self-esteem boost, Animal Planet — but even I know that’s better than paying the $4,000 or $5,000 that vet emergencies can cost.

That raises a good point, though. Many assume pet insurance only covers emergencies, not routine stuff, so they feel it’s not worth it.

Well, they’d be tickled as pink as my belly to learn a lot of routine care is included too. Depending on your insurer, basic plans can cover everything from ear infections to prescriptions to dental procedures. Hey, while we’re on the topic of my belly … [rolls onto side, smirking pompously] … don’t be shy now.

Ugh, fine. [2-minute pause while I scratch her belly.] So it sounds like, while there are exclusions, pet insurance covers more than people think.

You catch on quick. Coulda used you during the mirror fiasco of ‘09.

What about the notion that most health problems occur later in a pet’s life? Can owners forego insurance during those younger years?

Just like people, animals experience several new health concerns as they get older. But they’re also highly susceptible to certain illnesses and issues as youngsters. That can be just as crucial a time to have pet insurance. And many risks — like lunging into the street and getting hit by a car — have nothing to do with age. Again, we’re unpredictable. You want pet insurance when we’re healthy … before something goes wrong.

Which reminds me, could you cut back on chasing after motorcycles? I’m not saying quit cold turkey, but maybe limit it to the weekends?

I’ll pretend you never suggested that.

Fair enough. Now, what about vet flexibility? I think some hesitate on pet insurance because they don’t want to change vets or select from a network.

This is one of the grossest myths out there. And I’d gladly roll in garbage, so it takes a lot to gross me out. Fact is, most pet insurance can be used at any licensed vet’s office.   

Wow. Seems like pet insurance is affordable, applies just about anywhere, and kicks in for emergencies and non-emergencies. Anything else to add?

I have a blood feud going with the blender. For your own safety, steer clear of the kitchen at high noon tomorrow. Also, now that people have some solid pet insurance facts, they can easily shop for a reliable policy through Esurance.

Um, how did you know that?

Because this whole conversation is happening in your head, of course. I know what you know.

[Stunned silence]

Nah, just messing with you. I saw it on your laptop.

Phew. In that case, want to squeeze in a quick walk, girl?


Related links

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about Alex

As copywriter for Esurance, Alex had professional experience in everything from film to literature to (thanklessly!) correcting the grammar in friends' emails. As a fervent Minnesota sports fan, he spends most of his non-writing time gently weeping into cereal bowls.