Pet Insurance? No Joke, It Might Work for You
Pet coverage and other niche policies are usually bad deals, but there are exceptions
By Amanda Gengler

(MONEY Magazine) – These days you can insure just about anything--your pets, your wedding, even your own identity. While consumer experts usually advise against buying specialty insurance, because the price is too high compared with the risk of a big loss, some policies can make sense under certain circumstances. The following three policies may be worth your consideration.

Pet Insurance

• WHAT IT COVERS Basic and specialized medical care for household pets.

• COST Premiums typically run from $100 to $500 a year, depending on the pet. For instance, Veterinary Pet Insurance, the nation's largest pet insurer, charges $338 and up to insure a one- to four-year-old dog under a popular coverage option.

• WHY YOU USUALLY DON'T NEED IT Coverage often costs more than you'll spend for a healthy pet. For instance, dog owners spend about $180 a year at the vet, or half the cost of popular canine policies.

• WHEN YOU DO Over the course of a pet's life, insurance may cost you upwards of $2,000. But if your pet does become seriously ill, medical costs can quickly run up to five times that or more. While many owners wouldn't pay that much, 47% say they would cough up any amount to save their pet's life. If you're among them, insurance can be a worthwhile expense.

Travel Insurance

• WHAT IT COVERS Lost or damaged luggage, emergency medical assistance and trip cancellation or interruption for specific reasons, such as ill health.

• COST Coverage generally runs about 4.5% to 8% of the price of the vacation.

• WHY YOU USUALLY DON'T NEED IT Most of what travel insurance covers may be protected under your regular home, health and life policies, or by your credit-card issuer if you charge the trip. Also, many tour operators offer cancellation waivers that cost just $40 to $60.

• WHEN YOU DO Insurance covers what many waivers don't: cancellations immediately before departure, which are the most common kind. If you have reason to believe you might have to cancel--say, you're traveling with elderly parents or during hurricane season--travel insurance can be worth the price. Also, Medicare and some private insurers do not provide medical coverage outside the United States, so you may want a travel policy if you're venturing abroad.

Special-Event Insurance

• WHAT IT COVERS Nonrecoverable expenses for weddings and other big events that you forfeit if you postpone or cancel for specific reasons (such as bad weather or the illness of a key participant) or if a caterer or other supplier doesn't show up as promised.

• COST Premiums are typically 2% of the budget for the event.

• WHY YOU USUALLY DON'T NEED IT Insurers don't cover one of the most common reasons that events are postponed: a change of heart. Also, your homeowners policy or credit card may duplicate some coverage, such as damage to gifts stored at your home.

• WHEN YOU DO The average cost of a wedding is $26,327, and a bar mitzvah or a Sweet 16 celebration can cost almost as much. If there's a reasonable risk that you will have to cancel--for example, a relative is ailing--insurance makes sense. Insurance can also provide peace of mind for stressed-out party planners. "If you lie awake at night and worry, buy it," says Bob Hunter, an insurance expert at the Consumer Federation of America. "A good night's sleep is worth a lot."