Adam Karp, pictured above with Bubba, is a lawyer in Bellingham who exclusively practices animal law throughout Washington and Idaho. He answers questions in the third part in a series about pet insurance.

adambubba.jpgAdam Karp, pictured above with Bubba, is a lawyer in Bellingham who exclusively practices animal law throughout Washington and Idaho. He answers questions in the third part in a series about pet insurance.

Question: Is pet insurance worth it for most owners?

Answer: Insuring animal companions is a no-brainer if you would otherwise be willing to spend four figures per emergency or treat a diagnostic-intensive condition.

Veterinary Economics magazine reports that 47 percent of surveyed pet owners “would spend any amount necessary” on veterinary care to save a pet’s life. Almost three-fourths would spend at least $1,000.

The American Animal Hospital Association further found that three-fourths of pet owners would go into debt to care for their pet.

A 700-page economic study commissioned by the veterinary profession determined that dog and cat owners would spend an average of $92 a month to maintain their companion animal’s health, or more than $13,250 in veterinary expenditures alone during the pet’s lifetime.

Premium plans may run as high as $800 a year per geriatric animal, but much less for adolescents, and while claims may be rarely made, the premium will frequently be lower than the cost to self-insure.

It also will allow you to better absorb the impact of high veterinary bills without carrying excessive credit-card or CareCredit interest.

That said, pet insurance does not work like human medical insurance in one critical respect: Unlike insurance for humans, which, aside from a co-pay, allows you to tender the claim to insurance, wait and see what part they cover, and then pay the balance not covered at some later time, insurance for pets requires you to front the entire cost and get reimbursed by the insurer afterward.

Q: How do I determine what I really want in an insurance policy?

A: Begin by examining your risk-aversedness relative to your own health-insurance preferences and the answer becomes simple: abide the golden rule and insure your animal as you would yourself or your loved ones.

But philosophic ideals often collide with fiscal realities. Thus, if economics render the gold standard nonfeasible, consider a bronze — or I should say — steel standard by examining your auto coverage.

While animals are definitely not inanimate hunks of metal, the car provides a surprisingly useful basis for comparison: