Wednesday 23 September 2020

Pet insurance improves companion animal welfare

I have decided that pet insurance is a socialist concept. Sweden is a very socialist country. They pay high taxes and they are willing to do so because it improves society. It is a fairer society. And in Sweden pet insurance for dogs, I am told, is at 90% of the dog population. I am sure that it is not dissimilar for domestic cats. A 90% pet insurance rate is far above that of the UK which I believe is somewhere around 25%. In general, pet insurance uptake is quite low in part because it is uncompetitive compared to self-insurance which is a savings scheme run by the companion animal guardian.

However, I have decided that an important aspect of pet insurance is animal welfare. Pet insurance does two things. First it spreads the risk. If you are unfortunate cat owner and your cat is chronically ill out of pure bad luck for a long time but you have insurance then those heavy costs are paid for out of your insurance policy. Part of that policy is paid for by the lucky person who has a healthy cat or dog all their lives and never has to use the policy. Some of the money from the lucky person goes into helping the unlucky person. Pet insurance spreads the risk and therefore it has a socialist flavour. I don't think that this is something which has been raised very often.

But it certainly sounds more fair to me if an unlucky person and an unlucky cat or dog gets their vet bill paid for high quality treatment thanks to an insurance policy. If that person did not have insurance their cat or dog might suffer because they would not be treated adequately as the owner might not have sufficient funds.

Yes, of course, the person who has a policy and never uses it is out-of-pocket but they get what they want which is peace of mind. They do obtain some benefit, although not as much as they might have. But their luck means that their cat and dog is healthier and that they don't have to go to the veterinarian all the time.

Obviously, whether a companion animal is healthy or unhealthy is not always down to pure luck but a lot of the time it is. You can't be sure how things will pan out. You can take precautions and for example select a random bred cat over a purebred cat because random bred cats are more healthy in general than purebred cats but you can never be completely sure that your cat will be healthy for all or most of their lives. 

Luck plays a role and pet insurance provides a counterbalance against bad luck and it improves the health of companion animals through superior veterinary care provided more often and more promptly because there is no brake on paying the bill. Pet insurance also means that veterinarians get paid better which means they can afford better equipment which in turn means you end up with a virtuous circle of improvements. This is all paid for by cat and dog owners but the beneficiary is the patient: improved welfare for cats and dogs and other companion animals.

P.S. The picture is in the public domain in my view.

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