Are You a Good Candidate for Pet Self-Insurance?

It takes a dedicated saver to make self-insurance work for them.

Pet insurance has saved the lives of many a beloved pet. And while more pet owners are purchasing these policies, there are some who’d prefer another way to protect their furry BFFs. After all, you’re paying a certain amount of money per month to an insurance company, and you may or may not use it. Either way, your money goes to your insurance provider. But that doesn’t sit well with some; they’d rather have control over their savings. That’s why the concept of self-insurance is so attractive—you’re taking on the responsibility of providing the money needed for your pet’s health care.

What is Self-Insurance?

Self-insurance is taking policy coverage into your own hands. Rather than paying into an insurance policy each month, you put away enough money to cover your pet’s medical bills. This money should cover everything from regular checkups and medications, to emergency surgery. Any kind of insurance is like gambling, but with self-insurance, that saved money is yours to do what you want with should your pet not require any expensive treatment.

Most self-insurers set up a bank account and budget a certain amount per paycheck or month to go into it. If your cat or dog does need veterinary attention at any point, you pay the bills from the fund you’ve set up. Seems simple, right? Not so fast—there are other considerations to keep in mind.

Dog-Related Injury or Accident

Pet insurance doesn’t always cover just medical bills; there are certain policies that cover legal fees and damages caused by your dog. With self-insurance, you’re liable for your pet’s actions. Incidences that fall into this category include bites and property damage. If the injury is serious enough to keep someone home from work, you need to pay the bills (and they rack up pretty quickly). Even good dogs create unintentional accidents—perhaps he ran out on the road to chase a squirrel, a car swerves to miss him and hits a tree. It’s your responsibility to cover the costs. It may be covered under your home owners insurance, but if not, you’re on your own. Give your insurance company a call to see if you’re covered in case of this kind of accident, as every state and company differs. If not and you’re set on self-insurance, it’s smart to take out an inexpensive third party policy…just in case!

Have You’ve Saved Enough?

That’s the thing about medical emergencies—you can’t plan for them. And you may have just started your self-insurance savings when your pet becomes ill or injured. Puppies can get themselves into a world of trouble—eating things they’re not supposed to, hurting themselves while playing rough, etc. Even in the first year or two of having a dog, you may not have enough saved at this point to cover the costs.

How do you get around this? Start out your self-insurance account by putting in larger payments each week or month, and then reduce them once you’ve saved a decent chunk of cash. Or you can start it off with a big lump sum (of at least $1,000), if you can afford it.

To Self-Insure, or Not to Self-Insure

Every type of pet insurance has its down sides. If you’re a consistent saver who is able to put away enough money, self-insurance may work out best for you. You should also look into investing in third party insurance, so you don’t get bogged down in a hefty amount of debt. Prepare for any emergency, don’t rely on credit cards and keep that fund stocked up for a rainy day. You never know when you might need it.

Meet the Author: Amy Tokic

Amy Tokic is the Editor of, the flagship site to over 70 different pet communities, which offers pet parents a one-stop-info-shop for all things dog and cat related. Amy's been with PetGuide since the beginning, guided by the wisdom of her Shih Tzu mix and furry roommate, Oscar. Together, this pet power couple has their paw on the pulse of the pet industry, sniffing out trends, advice, news, tasty treat recipes and other tail-wagging stories.

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