Pets can be expensive; there’s no doubt about that. Finding it hard to pay the vet bills can be heartbreaking for some pet owners. Being prepared is the answer. Richard Laycock, from finder.com.au has some tips for us…
Picture this: your beloved family pet has fallen ill and been rushed to the vet. Your vet has diagnosed the problem and is ready to start treatment right away, but there’s one very big problem standing in the way. You can’t afford to pay for the cost of treatment.
While some pets seem particularly prone to getting into mischief and ending up at the vet, accidents can happen at any time and they can leave your previously healthy pet needing urgent treatment. Now, this is not an opportunity to get angry at your vet for charging an “outrageous” amount. In fact, many people don’t realise that the majority of the fees you pay actually go towards your pet’s medical care. Not being able to pay the medical bills for a family member’s urgent treatment is a nightmare scenario, so here are a few options that you might want to consider.
- Ask your vet about a payment plan
One option is to ask your vet about setting up a payment plan so that you can spread your payments out over a few months. Some vets will offer this flexibility to existing customers while others won’t. It’s all up to the individual practice, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
- Take out a personal loan
If you’re stuck with a vet bill that you simply can’t afford to pay, you could consider taking out a personal loan. You can use the funds from a personal loan for any purpose you want, but you will of course need to be able to pay off the money that you’ve borrowed and the interest that accrues over the life of the loan.
- Get an emergency credit card
The next option is to have a credit card set aside solely for emergencies. This ensures that you can instantly access the funds you need if your dog or cat falls ill. However, there are a couple of risks attached to this approach. Not only will you need the financial discipline to not use the card for non-urgent purchases, but you’ll also need to be capable of repaying any interest that accrues on your card balance.
- Put money aside in a savings account
To protect yourself against future vet bills, you could consider opening a high-interest online savings account. By putting away a portion of your pay each week or month, you can build up a rainy-day fund to deal with any unexpected emergencies. If you choose this option, just make sure you’re disciplined enough to make regular deposits and to resist the temptation of dipping into your savings to make other purchases.
- Consider pet insurance
The easiest way to ensure that you can cover any unexpected vet bills is to take out a pet insurance policy. Pet insurance covers a set percentage (usually around 80%) of veterinary bills when your dog or cat suffers an illness or injury.
There are three choices of pet cover available:
- Accident-only policies cover accidental injuries such as snake bites, fight wounds and bone fractures.
- Accident and illness policies offer all the same cover as an accident-only policy, plus cover for various illnesses, skin or teeth conditions and ear infections.
- Comprehensive policies offer the same cover as an accident and illness policy, but include benefits for routine veterinary care, such as vaccinations and worm/flea control.
With a pet insurance policy in place, you can enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you’ll be able to get your pet the treatment it needs, whenever it needs it. If you want nothing but the best for your dog or cat, it’s worth considering the benefits of taking out pet insurance and shopping around for a policy that matches all of your cover needs.
Richard Laycock is an insurance expert at finder.com.au.