Should You Get Pet Insurance?

Pets are considered family members, and their well-being is crucial. However, unforeseen accidents and emergencies can occur, posing financial challenges and putting your pet’s health at risk. To mitigate these concerns, many pet owners opt for pet insurance. This type of insurance can provide a safety net, covering unexpected veterinary expenses and offering peace of mind.

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It’s essential to understand the costs involved in both veterinary care and pet insurance. Veterinary care expenses can vary based on the type of pet, its age, and any pre-existing conditions. On the other hand, pet insurance premiums will depend on the coverage you choose, the deductible, and the specific insurance company. By comparing the average costs of veterinary care with pet insurance premiums, you can make an informed decision about whether investing in pet insurance is a worthwhile option for your situation.

While pet insurance can be beneficial, it’s essential to know what it covers and what it doesn’t. Generally, pet insurance covers accidents, injuries, and illnesses. However, pre-existing conditions, routine check-ups, and certain treatments may not be covered. Reading and understanding the policy’s fine print is crucial to avoid any surprises when making a claim.

The average cost of pet care

According to the ASPCA, routine vet costs for a healthy pet average around $225 per year for dogs and $160 per year for cats.

In addition to routine vet costs, new pet owners should budget for initial medical expenses, such as vaccines, which can range from $175 to $300. Spaying or neutering your pet may cost an additional $150 to $300, although it’s worth checking with local animal shelters for low-cost options.

On top of that, prescriptions like heartworm or flea medication can add to your expenses. For dogs, these medications can cost around $185, while for cats, it’s around $140.

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However, it’s important to be prepared for unexpected situations. Veterinary costs can escalate significantly if your pet becomes ill or experiences an emergency. Treatments for conditions like bladder infections, broken bones, gastrointestinal issues, and other illnesses can easily amount to thousands of dollars.

Considering these potential costs, many pet owners find it beneficial to have pet insurance, even if their pets are currently healthy. Pet insurance can provide financial assistance during challenging times and ease the burden of unexpected medical bills.

Complex and emergency care veterinary costs

PROCEDUREDOGSCATS
Cancer$4,137$3,282
Cancer treatment-chemotherapy$4,000$4,000
Stomach foreign object$3,262$2,955
ACL/CCL surgery (per knee)$1,000-3,000
Diabetes$2,892$1,634
Femoral Head Ostectomy surgery (FHO)$1,200-$2,500
Hernia surgery$700-$2,500
Ear hematomas$300-$2,500
Broken bone$2,371$2,257
Amputation$1,250-$1,850
Tumor removal$300-$1,600
Heart murmur$1,140$1,440
Arthritis$724$490
Dental disease/periodontitis$519$768
Bladder/urinary tract infection$424$1,053
Ophthalmology$319$227
Kidney disease (feline)$1,318
Source: Pets Best. Based on claims data.

How much does pet insurance cost? 

Pet insurance can be quite expensive, with the average cost being around $55 per month for a dog and approximately $47 per month for a cat. However, the actual cost of pet insurance varies depending on several factors. Your chosen plan and insurance company play a significant role in determining the cost. Additionally, your pet’s age, breed, species, and your location also influence the price you’ll pay for coverage.

One factor that impacts the cost of pet insurance is the annual deductible. Deductibles typically range from $100 to $500, but some companies offer options as low as $0 or as high as $1,000. Generally, if you choose a lower deductible, you’ll have a higher premium to pay.

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Apart from deductibles, the annual coverage limit and reimbursement percentage also affect your pet insurance costs. The annual limit refers to the maximum amount the insurance company will pay for covered veterinary care. Depending on your plan, this limit can range from $2,000 to unlimited. Naturally, the more coverage you opt for, the higher your rate will be.

The reimbursement percentage is another important factor to consider. This percentage dictates how much of your veterinary expenses will be covered by the insurance company. Reimbursement percentages typically range from 70% to 90%, but they can be as low as 50% or as high as 100% based on your plan. Naturally, the higher the reimbursement percentage, the higher your overall cost for pet insurance will be.

What does pet insurance cover?

When purchasing pet insurance, you’ll have two main options to consider: accident-only coverage or an accident and illness plan. According to NAPHIA’s data, the majority of pet insurance policies in 2017 (98%) were for accident and illness coverage, which may also include wellness benefits, while only a small percentage (2%) opted for accident-only plans.

If you choose an accident-only plan, it will cover your pet in case of accidents and emergencies, such as treating a broken bone if your dog gets hit by a car. However, it won’t cover treatment for illnesses that your pet may develop.

On the other hand, accident and illness plans provide more comprehensive coverage, addressing both emergencies and diseases. It’s important to note that most of these plans do not cover pre-existing conditions, meaning conditions your pet had before the insurance policy started.

Typically, routine wellness visits are not part of standard pet insurance plans. Nevertheless, many companies offer the option to add wellness coverage to your accident and illness plan, providing a more well-rounded package for your pet’s overall health.

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What isn’t covered by pet insurance?

Pet insurance plans come with certain exclusions that pet owners should be aware of before purchasing a policy. These exclusions can impact coverage for various conditions and services. One common exclusion is pre-existing conditions, meaning any health issue that your pet had before the insurance policy’s effective date won’t be covered. Additionally, conditions that arise during the policy waiting period are usually not covered.

It’s essential to note that pet insurance typically does not cover routine expenses like grooming, dietary supplements, and wellness exams. If you want coverage for such services, you might have the option to add wellness benefits to your policy at an extra cost.

Another important consideration is that pet insurance plans may not cover expenses related to pregnancy and birth. If you have a pregnant pet or plan on breeding them, you’ll need to be prepared for those costs separately.

Before finalizing a pet insurance plan, it’s crucial to compare different companies and their offerings thoroughly. Some companies might have caps or limits for coverage of ongoing, chronic illnesses like cancer or hip dysplasia. Understanding the terms and limitations of each plan will help you make an informed decision and ensure you get the most suitable coverage for your furry friend.

Alternatives to pet insurance

If you’re unsure about buying health insurance for your pet, there are viable alternatives to consider. One such option is Pawp, which offers reimbursement for emergency vet bills up to $3,000 annually, requiring a monthly fee of $24.

Alternatively, you could opt for a pet savings account instead of traditional pet insurance. By setting aside the same amount of money you would pay for insurance premiums each month, you can build an emergency fund for your pet’s unexpected medical needs, providing you with peace of mind.

In the event that your pet requires urgent medical attention before you’ve accumulated enough in the savings account, there are other avenues to explore. CareCredit offers a credit card specifically designed for pet care, covering both routine and emergency veterinary expenses. Another option is Scratchpay, a financing solution that functions like a personal loan and can be used for both personal and pet-related costs.

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