Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Conversation about pet insurance

Friend 1: You're playing with fire if you don't have pet insurance.

: When my dog Dignan was under my sole care, I carried an alternative version of pet insurance that was totally free.

It was the belief that he could either tough out his expensive injuries or risk being put to sleep.

It's called the "What Our Parents, Grandparents, and All Other Ancestors Did For Doggy Health Care" Plan.

[fast forward a couple months and topic of pet insurance comes up again]

Friend 2: After spending as much time as I have with my girlfriend and her her dog, I remember what dog ownership is like. I take back my statement about thinking Kendall's method of insurance was funny. I want to buy insurance for this dog already.

Me: It's not supposed to be funny.

Dignan has cost me (and now my sister) nothing but food and a couple shots since I got him almost four years ago. I love him dearly but am also aware that dogs are much better adapted to living with discomfort and pain. If something happened to him that made him uncomfortable, I would wait for the problem to clear up on its own. If it got worse, I would probably bite the bullet and take him to the vet. If it was an overly expensive problem to fix, I would have to weigh the costs v. the benefits of getting him fixed.

Basically, I wouldn't spend much money on making the dog merely less uncomfortable, nor would I spend a lot of money on extending the dog's life when a dog doesn't live very long to begin with. It may sound callous, but it seems ridiculous to me to spend a lot of money on a non-human. Call me an asshole, but I'd rather put the dog to sleep, be really, really sad for a few days and then just get a new dog, which is actually a really fun thing to do, than be milked monthly by an insurance company or dump money down the never-ending hole known as a dog with health problems.

Friend 3: You have no soul.

Friend 4: You have no soul for real.

Me: If I had no soul, I wouldn't be sad about doing it. Knowing when it's time to let go of your dog doesn't mean you loved it any less. To me, pet insurance is another example of the wussification of America, or perhaps more accurately an example of America's crippling fear of death.

I guess I'm just more comfortable with death and with a dog's place in the food chain. People these days seem to think that dogs are actual family members or something and that if they spend enough money on their dogs, they'll live forever. No matter how much money you spend on your dog, he or she will not live longer than 10 or maybe 15 years. If it makes you feel better to spend thousands on insurance and deductibles over the years to cover reconstructive surgery and physical therapy and whatever else, go for it. But don't attack me because I'm comfortable with getting a couple extra opportunities over the course of my lifetime to pick out new puppies that will not spend their lives in traction, casts, and those dumb neck cones.

Friend 4: I get what your saying, Kendall, but regardless, I'm willing to spend 20 bucks a month to potentially save me from one of those decisions.

Me: Even if you completely reject my argument that we have gone too far in humanizing our pets, why pay an insurance company who will charge you a deductible and potentially 10 to 20 percent of the costs and most likely do everything in their power to reject your claim? I would probably go ballistic the first time I heard the words "policy limit" or "pre-existing condition" at the vet's office. Why not put $20 per month in an interest-bearing account and then use that to pay for the dog's vet bills if and when they come up?


Check out this article on how pet names are becoming more human