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Savings accounts vs. pet medical insurance

Pet parents can save for routine expenses like food and annual vet visits, but what about those unexpected costs? The truth is that you simply can’t predict what might happen to your pet — or how much it could cost.

Savings accounts vs. pet medical insurance

Pet parents can save for routine expenses like food and annual vet visits, but what about those unexpected costs? The truth is that you simply can’t predict what might happen to your pet — or how much it could cost.

soft orange kitten looks at camera

A deeper look at your financial options

Every pet parent wants a long and healthy life with their best friend, but unfortunately that doesn’t always happen despite our best efforts. Pets and their health are often unpredictable, so we recommend preparing for the unexpected in one of two ways:

Savings account

Open a savings account to pay for your pet’s medical bills

Medical insurance

Enroll your pet in a medical insurance policy

The pros and cons of a savings account

Paying for your pet’s medical bills out of a designated savings account is a great idea in theory. Some pet parents will set aside a little money each month to prepare for any medical emergencies.

However, the reality is that savings accounts aren’t a reliable way to pay for your pet’s medical bills. Before depending on a savings account, you should understand the disadvantages that come with it:

Advantages of savings accounts

More control and flexibility with your money

Insurance providers require monthly payments. If you rely on a savings account, you control how much (or how little) to set aside each month.

Lucky pets win big

Let’s say your pet stays healthy their entire life and doesn’t ever need veterinary care. Congratulations! Since you stayed diligent about setting money aside each month, you can use that cash for something fun.

No "middleman"

You can pay for your pet’s treatment yourself without having to process or submit anything to a pet insurance company.

Disadvantages of savings accounts

Requires discipline

Let’s be real — a saving account takes a lot of diligence and willpower. For starters, how’s that vacation nest egg coming along? Be honest with yourself about how diligent of a saver you are. Your pet’s health and your finances depend on it!

Unlucky pets lose big

If your pet isn’t so lucky, what happens if your savings account hits zero and you still have vet bills to pay? If you choose to save instead of getting pet insurance, it could be a very expensive and heartbreaking gamble.

Temptation to use savings for other expenses

Life happens, along with unexpected expenses. Can you resist dipping into your savings account to cover those unforeseen costs? What if your car breaks down or you want a little extra spending money during the holidays?

Saving takes time

It can take years to save a few thousand dollars, and a common surgery alone could bleed you dry. What if you only recently started saving and an emergency happens? You may not have enough saved to cover your pet’s care.

Difficult to save while paying for ongoing issues

Just because your pet has one medical condition doesn’t mean they won’t develop other issues. If you’re trying to keep up with your current medical expenses while continuing to save for the future, you may find yourself struggling to keep your head above water.

With a savings account, your expectations may not be realistic

Opening a savings account may seem like a smart idea, but they often fail to cover your pet’s medical expenses. Veterinary care is more expensive than most pet parents realize, and vet bills can add up fast.

In a perfect world, here’s what your savings account could look like:

puppy icon
Let's say you start a savings account for your 2 month old puppy.
piggy bank icon
You deposit $100 initially and add $50 a month.
graph icon
At a rather generous interest rate of 2%, you’ll have $3,262.88 after 5 years.
chart of savings account expectations

There’s no guarantee that your pet will stay healthy during those first 5 years while you’re saving. What if something happens to your pet tomorrow and you haven’t saved enough money? With a savings account, you may find yourself stuck between a rock and a hard place.

The biggest risk of a savings account is not having enough saved. But with medical insurance, your pet can get the best care when they need it most, no matter the cost.

The reality of a savings account

If you’ve been saving for 2 years and your pet eats something they shouldn’t (like a sock or a pair of underwear), you’ll wipe out your entire savings account just to get that item removed.

And what if your pet continues having digestive issues and needs follow-up treatments? What if they get hurt a few months later?

In reality, here’s what your savings account will probably look like:

chart of savings account realities

Let’s say in February of year 2, you make an emergency trip to the vet because your dog ingested a foreign object. Your vet bill is $1,400, draining your savings account down to -$72.64.

Then in April of the same year, your dog starts vomiting, so you take them back to the vet. This time your vet bill is $300, depleting your savings account even further down to -$372.64.

The truth is that illnesses and injuries can happen at any time, and a savings account isn’t a reliable or consistent way to finance your pet’s veterinary care.

Learn more about coverage

Dr. Doug Kenney

"I'm all for having a so-called "pet health savings account," but not instead of pet insurance. The reason is obvious. What if two months into your savings plan, your pet becomes seriously sick or injured and requires treatment totaling several thousand dollars? You'd be a little short. That's when a pet insurance policy  comes in handy. And situations like that happen all the time in veterinary hospitals around the country."

- Doug Kenney, DVM
Preventive Vet

Dr Heather Steyn

"You cannot predict what you will need to provide care for a pet and therefore cannot save the right amount to cover the care - medical insurance prevents you from having to worry about a savings balance - you get to just provide best care without considering the cost or the total amount that has been saved."

Dr. Heather Steyn
Advanced Animal Care of Colorado

Why pet medical insurance is worth it

If you choose to protect your pet with a savings account, there will always be a level of uncertainty whether or not you can actually afford the care your pet needs. You just never know what could be around the corner.

It only takes one unexpected vet bill to wipe out your savings account entirely, so it makes more sense to put money towards an insurance policy that offers comprehensive coverage and unlimited payouts for your pet’s entire life.

Trupanion - medical insurance for pets logo Savings account Crowd-funding Credit card
Always enough money to help your pet Checkmark Depends Red X Depends
Money available right when you need it Checkmark Depends Red X Depends
Easy for veterinarians to accept Checkmark Depends Depends Depends
Built specifically to keep pets healthy Checkmark Red X Red X Red X
Helps keep you debt-free Checkmark Red X Depends Red X

To give cats and dogs the best chance at a happy and healthy life, we recommend putting a little money into a savings account AND enrolling in pet medical insurance.

The savings account can help with smaller and more affordable costs, like routine and preventative care.

Meanwhile, your pet medical insurance can easily pay for those big and unexpected costs, like hip dysplasia or diabetes.

No matter what you decide, have a reliable plan in place so you can help your pet get the best care when they need it most.

Getting a quote is fast, easy and risk free

Call now 844.922.1170844.922.1170

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We love informed decisions. See our policy for full coverage details.

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