As technology improves pet insurance is becoming increasingly necessary for pet owners, according to local veterinarians.

Insurance for pets is a concept that was started decades ago by Dr. Jack Stephens, a vet who was tired of being blamed when his clients couldn’t afford to take care of their pets. Stephens said while pet insurance may have just been a good idea in the past, today it is becoming a necessity.

“When I was a child dogs were out in the yard,” Stephens said. “If I brought my dog into the house, I’d get in trouble. When I got out of veterinary school, dogs were in the house. Now, dogs sleep in the bed. As a result of that, pet owners don’t find them to be disposable anymore. When we have a beloved pet that provides us with love and companionship… we might treat them differently. We want that pet healthy.”

Technology to keep pets healthy has improved in 30 years, just like technology to keep humans healthy. With blood tests, MRIs, ultra sounds and even acupuncture, the price can be high to properly diagnose a pet’s health issue. Stephens said to him insurance is just a way to budget carefully to be able to take care of a pet well into its old age.

“There’s a wide variety of plans,” he said. “A pet owner can get an accident only plan for under $10 a month. A feline plan can start as low as $4 per month. On average, it’s about $25 to $35 a month for a full coverage plan or about $300 a year.”

Stephens said a typical trip to an emergency vet can cost $500 or more.

Dr. Linda Elliott, a veterinarian at Ahwatukee Commons Veterinarian Hospital, said the U.S. is actually behind when it comes to insuring pets. In the U.S. about 2 percent of pets are insured while Europe may have more than 30 percent. In her experience, Elliott said owners whose pets are insured are more likely and able to bring pets in for proper care.

Pets don’t typically have to go through any kind of physical to get insurance, but Elliott said it’s important to plan ahead.

“Most people will think about pet insurance after an incident, and unfortunately pet insurance does not cover pre-existing diseases,” she said. “It’s best to get pet insurance when you first get the pup.”

There are several companies that sell pet insurance. Ahwatukee Commons Veterinarian Hospital recommends Veterinarian Pet Insurance, a company Stephens started years ago. For more information, visit or call 1-866-VET-PETS. Stephens more recently started Pets Best Insurance. For more information on Pets Best, visit or call (877) 738-7237.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or

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