About two years ago, I had to put down my dog, Sydney. And even though it was clearly time for her, and there was nothing we could have done for her condition medically, it was not an easy thing to do. At the moment of truth, I got the feeling she understood what was happening, and she accepted it. Maybe I’m projecting. If so, I’ll cop to it. You’ve got to have a heart of stone to kill a dog, even for the best reasons, and not feel bad about it.
It’s this wrenching need to care for our pets that created a pet insurance market shortly after World War II. I don’t know a whole heck of a lot about the market, except that traditionally, it has done well in the United Kingdom, where people joke that it is the one place where people can be counted on to like their pets more than other people. (It’s done alright in this country too, though, and I can only imagine that when the economy recovers, all of those people who carry toy dogs with them in purses and such will be in the market for buying Spritzy and Mr. Bigglesworth a health plan that exceeds their own.)
According to comparethemarket.com, a price quote comparison website, over a three-month period earlier this year, people requested three times as many quotes for pet insurance than they did for life insurance. Now, the details on this are sketchy, as the website doesn’t get into its own numbers. So for all we know they had nine pet insurance quote requests and only three for life insurance. But let us assume for the moment that there is a statistically significant sample of data being looked at here. This would be an incredible sign indeed of just how far down the ladder of financial awareness life insurance has fallen.
After all, you can euthanize a pet rather than insure it. And as most pet owners know, over the lifetime of their pet, they probably have at least one really big vet bill ahead of them from when Rover swallows a lugnut or when Misty developes feline leukemia. But given that most people really don’t want to face the awful calculus of determining when it’s cost-effective to cure their pet and when it makes more sense to simply dispose of it, the value of pet insurance becomes apparent.