Taking Emotional Distractions out of Pet Insurance Decisions

May 19, 2017

in Cat Health

Our view or opinions of an outcome often retroactively determine the merits of the decisions we make. Deftly diving out of the way of a speeding car would logically seem to be a smart decision. Landing in the way of another oncoming car, in retrospect, takes smart out of the equation.

In either case you made the same decision in jumping out of the way of a speeding car. Its the outcome of that decision that dictates the apparent intelligence of the decision you made. Does that mean we’re all subject to fate in determining the virtue of our decisions? Not necessarily. Perhaps we should have looked before we leapt. To confuse things further, there’s another way of looking at things.

A very intelligent man once explained to me that the virtue of a decision can’t be judged on the simplicity of the decision itself but has to take all variables into consideration. Don’t worry, I had the same deer-in-the-headlights look you may have right now when he said it to me. But he went on to clarify things.

“If,” he asked, “I offered you an investment opportunity that could convert $5,000.00 of your dollars into $50,000.00 in ten years, would you take it? Consider that you have about a 50% chance of making that $50k and better odds of making only $30K or $40K. Regardless, you can rest assured that you’ll almost certainly get your full investment back if things don’t work out but you’ll still have to wait 10 years.” I thought about the question and thought, absent any pressing needs or wants, I might take the opportunity if I had disposable cash handy.

He then asked what I would do if he offered me obscenely slim odds to make $5 million dollars and all I’d have to invest is $5 for the purchase of a lottery ticket. I answered without hesitation that I’d hand over the $5 with hardly a thought.

He then deflated my confidence a bit by explaining I’d just made the same bad decision thousands of lottery ticket purchasers make every day. The mistake I was making being the failure to consider the odds in assessing the value of the investment simply because I was so impressed by the potential return relative to the amount I’d have to pay to get in on the deal.

But the point we’re trying to make here isn’t about gambling on lottery tickets or dodging oncoming traffic. What this article focuses on is the sometimes difficult choice we face when considering the value of purchasing veterinary insurance for our pets. If you’re in the market, you already know that it isn’t always a cut and dry decision.

Much as with the investing example, many of us struggle with the choice of insuring our pets because we tackle this dilemma with the same irrational approach we might apply to purchasing a lottery ticket. What if our pet never requires an expensive procedure? Will we be able to stomach having thrown away all that money over the years for nothing?

On the opposite side of the coin, emotions prevail. What if we don’t purchase the insurance and wind up unable to afford to pay for an emergency? Will that mean we didn’t love our pet enough? Are we wrong for assigning a dollar value to the health of our animal?

In both cases these are the wrong approaches and will not lead to a smart decision. Basing the choice on what-ifs is wholly unproductive. No matter how healthy your particular breed may be in general, you can’t predict accidents such as poisons or car accidents.

The second approach is a mistake in that a financial decision should never be grounded purely in emotion. If you can’t afford a monthly fee for health insurance, it has no bearing on the level of affection you feel for your pet. Rather, it’s a simple fact of economics.

In deciding whether or not veterinary insurance is the smart choice for your pet, take a rational approach. Look at the facts. Should an expensive procedure be unexpectedly required, could you cover the cost out of your savings? Remember it could cost you thousands of dollars. Obviously, if you make a lot of money and are good at maintaining savings for emergencies then there’s probably no point in getting insurance.

Is your pet very young and healthy? If so, and particularly if you’re relatively comfortable financially, then perhaps the choice to purchase pet insurance can be postponed until later in your pet’s life.

Does it make more financial sense to you to pay a monthly fee just in case? For many, the monthly expense of insuring a pet is preferable to the possibility of an unexpected hit to their savings. Job stability, the balance of your savings account and your own tolerance for risk should be the factors that influence your decision.

After reviewing all the facts absent attempts at prognostication and absent pointlessly kicking yourself emotionally, you’ll be able to make a smart decision. That means the right choice at the time regardless the unanticipated outcome down the road. A rationally grounded decision will leave you content with the knowledge that you did what was right at the time. Save the random, emotionally-based attempts at predicting the future for your trip to Vegas.

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