Personal Finance Insider writes about products, strategies and tips to help you make smart decisions with your money. We may receive a small commission from our partners, but our reports and recommendations are always independent and objective. My partner and I have four pets – two dogs and two cats – but we don't have pet insurance. We recently adopted a new puppy, Claire, and they offered me 30 days of free coverage, so I called the insurance company to find out more. After talking to the agent, I still don't think pet insurance is worth it – as a former vet technician, I know preventative care is very important and it wasn't covered by the plan I am was offered. Instead, we maintain an emergency fund that we can use to pay for any unexpected veterinary bills. Read more personal financial coverage. My partner and I are one of many families who adopted a puppy during this pandemic. Our new puppy, Claire, has brought our fur family to four, with two cats and two dogs. With so many pets in the family, veterinary bills can become expensive, but we don't offer any type of pet insurance. Instead, we maintain a line item in our pet spending budget and have a pet-specific emergency savings fund from which we can withdraw for unexpected veterinary bills. Claire's adoption package from the shelter came with a free 30 day insurance policy. This was reason enough for me to re-examine pet insurance and see if it was worth it. I called to activate the gift, but I refused to purchase the plan. We don't know what kind of problems our new puppy will be in, but what worries me most is that we don't know how much of those pet insurance premium payments will actually go to our puppy's future medical care. The cost of pet insurance is complicated. The costs of pet insurance are specific to each pet and the type of coverage you are looking to buy. That's why many pet insurance companies don't publish specific plans on their websites and require you to call or fill out a form for an official quote. When I called to activate the free plan for our new puppy, it was not the first time that I called a pet insurance company. Two years earlier, when we had adopted our other dog, I had also taken out pet insurance. I can't say that time has changed anything. The clerk worked to get me sold and said having a puppy is a great time to start covering as the first health problems become present in the first year of growth. As a former veterinary technician, I know that lifelong health conditions may appear in the early years of growth, but generally conditions with important medical bills will become present in the declining years of an animal's life. What the rep was insinuating, I believe, is that we should buy coverage while the animal is young, before an existing condition. This is because pre-existing conditions are not normally covered by pet insurance policies. I was told about a general coverage policy with a premium of around $ 58 per month and a $ 1,000 deductible. Thereafter, they would cover up to $ 2,000 of eligible medical bills; regular preventive care, such as vaccines, was not eligible. In the first level plan, only medical emergencies would be covered after the deductible. Pet insurance plans have only gone up in levels with varying levels of coverage. The second tier was around $ 82 a month with a $ 1,000 deductible. This would cover diseases and medical emergencies. So if our new puppy had salmonella or was hit by a car, the treatments would have to be covered. With both pet insurance plans, I could choose to increase my premium to decrease my deductible. My experience as a veterinary technician has shown me how much it really costs to pet owners. In the back of the vet clinic office where I worked for four years, I saw my fair share of pet health problems. The most expensive veterinary bills did not come from the surgery required when a pet swallowed a toy or when an animal was hit by a car. Many important veterinary bills for young animals were often due to the lack of preventive care. Not vaccinating an animal in time or socializing an animal before the vaccine series was complete meant that the animal was likely to contract a disease. Unfortunately, this has required many pet owners to pay or lay the pet. Adequate preventive care, the thing that isn't covered by the top-level pet insurance plans I've seen, is the best way to save money on veterinary bills. Our strategy to cover pet expenses We already have a dog and two cats, so we knew we had to sign another vet account by adopting a puppy. To cover normal veterinary bills, we have a line item in our budget for this exact thing. Every month we set aside $ 200 for pet expenses. This includes food, delicacies and toys. We don't always end up spending $ 200, so we let it move on to the next month. This extra rollover easily covers normal veterinary bills. During the life of an animal, we know that some strong bills due to an ear infection or UTI could be a reality. This type of expense can be covered by a pet insurance, but we have found an alternative. We prefer to keep our money under our control rather than pay a monthly pet insurance premium and keep our fingers crossed every time we have to file a claim. The thing is, we knew we could prepare for pet medical emergencies just as we prepared for other emergencies. Instead of paying a monthly premium, we put some money aside every month in our general emergency fund. We currently have just over $ 5,000 in this emergency fund, and this acts as a buffer to cover the worst case scenario for us and our pets. Now, occasionally, we will put in $ 20- $ 50 here, but it will be fully provided for any kind of surprise shopping. We didn't always have a full emergency fund, but we still didn't need pet insurance. We are not strangers to the unexpected emergency. When we first bought our cat, we didn't have an emergency fund and we were caught with a $ 5,000 vet bill for a foot amputation. However, this is not a case where I look back and wish we had paid for pet insurance. Instead, we had two other viable options for paying the vet bill. Veterinary Payment Plan Privately owned veterinary practices often have a payment plan option if the invoice cannot be paid. Where I was employed, we offered it on a case-by-case basis. The client should meet with the office manager and complete some documents to make it official. I would never say that you should rely on this, but if you are reading this and you will experience an emergency for pets tomorrow, you should inquire. Plans CareCreditCareCredit is a form of payment accepted in many veterinary clinics. This is a short term financing option that provides six, 12, 18 or 24 months interest free on purchases over $ 200 as long as you make the minimum monthly payments and pay the full amount due by the end of the promotional period. We chose the CareCredit plan for our cat's surgery and settled the bill within six months. This was our lesson learned and we started building our general emergency fund after this. Our savings are something that I know will pay our veterinary bills While the thought of being covered by an insurance if a large veterinary bill arrives is comforting, I feel even more stable knowing that we have a fund that cannot deny us if something goes wrong. I feel strong enough for my pets, and I also feel strongly enough that pet insurance policies are rarely worth the effort. Keeping a line in our budget, being active on preventative care and having emergency savings allowed us to say no to pet insurance.