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Pet Insurance: Is it worth your money?

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Pet Insurance:
Is it worth
your money?

Nov 10, 2021 | pet insurance

Pet Insurance: Is it worth your money?

Peri Elgrot

Top 10 Pet Insurance Editor

You signed up for health insurance, car insurance, and home insurance, but do you have insurance coverage for your pets as well? If your pets currently don’t have an insurance policy, you’re not the only one. According to a North American Pet Health Insurance Association report, 67% of households in the United States have pets. However, only 1% of those pets currently have an insurance policy.

When you take a look at the costs of veterinary care, you might be convinced to get pet insurance.

 

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The estimated annual cost of routine care is around $80 to $250 for dogs and $110 to $150 for cats according to the ASPCA. If you’re dealing with an emergency situation, vet costs can skyrocket to $800 to $1500 or even higher.
If you had to drive yourself and your pet to an animal hospital in the middle of the night, you know how it feels to voluntarily empty your wallet just to stop your fur baby from suffering.

We wanted to help pet owners decide so we’ve analyzed pet insurance for you. Is it worth signing up for an insurance policy for your pet?

Workings of Pet Insurance

Similar to health insurance for humans, a pet insurance policy can help lessen the costs of healthcare for your pets. There are different coverage levels offered by each provider and the cost of your monthly or annual premium will vary depending on the level of coverage you select. You have options to select a plan that will cover accidents and injuries, accidents, injuries, and genetic conditions, or accidents only. The wider the coverage, the higher your insurance cost will be.

Most plans also have deductibles, which is a set amount you need to pay before the coverage starts. Deductibles can range from $0 to $2500 per year depending on the terms of your policy. Usually, when you select a higher deductible, you’ll also get back a bigger percentage of your money.

Health insurance for humans typically works using a copay system. You pay only a set percentage of your doctor’s fees and the insurance will pay the remaining balance. For pet insurance, payment is normally done with reimbursement. When you take your pet to a veterinarian, you will shoulder the full costs of the service and then file a claim to your insurance provider. You will get reimbursement for 20 to 100% of covered costs depending on the policy.

Your pet’s age and your location will play a part in how your rates are calculated. In some areas, veterinary costs are higher.

Costs of Pet Insurance

Looking at the top 11 pet insurance providers, the average cost of dog insurance is $42.25 per month and $20.99 for cats, as reported by Value Penguin. Individual costs of course will differ according to the pet’s age, breed, health, and the level of coverage you choose.

If you have anything that’s not a cat or a dog, you might find that your options are limited. Still, you can find an insurance provider that will cover birds, reptiles, rabbits, and other species.

What are the Pros of Getting Pet Insurance?

1. You can compare options easily

We’re all used to health insurance being a difficult system to comprehend. Getting health insurance for ourselves often means undertaking complicated paths to get the right plans and riders. Often you’ll need the help of a professional to make it easier to understand. But you don’t have to go through these hassles when it comes to insurance for your pets.

In comparison, pet insurance has a more straightforward setup. Pet insurance providers typically offer simple policies. You can compare the different tiers available more easily. On top of that, getting quotes that are free of commitment from most companies often takes only a few minutes. With all of this, price shopping for pet insurance is so much more hassle-free.

2. Lower premiums for young pets

If your pet is still young and healthy and you select a lower coverage tier, you can get monthly premiums that are less than the cost of your brunch order from a fancy café. It won’t put a huge dent in your budget especially since you’re paying for protection from unexpected expenses.

3. Affordable deductibles

Just one late-night visit to the emergency room of an animal clinic can cost a limb. Insurance deductibles look practical when in comparison to the high costs of an ER visit. If your pet suddenly falls sick or gets injured and you don’t have pet insurance, you know that it might cost you a pretty penny. With insurance, you don’t have to worry about not being able to afford your veterinary bills. Signing up for pet insurance that caters to your needs and budget gives you the peace of mind that your pet will be taken care of if ever they get injured or ill.

4. You can choose your vet

As long as you go to a licensed veterinarian all eligible expenses in your plan will be covered. You also don’t have to worry about your vet refusing your insurance plan or out-of-network troubles that often result in higher costs. When you pay for the service, you will need two things from your vet – a copy of the invoice and for your vet to fill out the corresponding sections in your claim form. Then you can file the claim with your provider.

5. You can prioritize your pet’s health

According to reports from the NAPHIA pet owners who have insurance for their pets are more likely to get medical care for their pets compared to those who don’t have pet insurance.

You don’t want to be between a rock and a hard place when you decide between medical care and debt. Often, pet owners are not properly prepared for medical expenses and are forced to choose economic euthanasia when they cannot afford humongous medical bills. Investing in a pet insurance policy can ensure that you never have to make this decision.

What are the Cons of Getting Pet Insurance?

1. Higher premiums for older pets

The monthly premiums for older pets can cost you $40 or more, especially if they have a pre-existing condition or if you opt for a high tier. Because of this, you need to carefully look into whether the annual cost for your pet’s insurance makes sense and that you aren’t losing money.

2. You still deal with upfront payments

With the way pet insurance works, you’ll need to pay out of pocket first for upfront medical expenses then submit a claim for reimbursement. This means that your pet insurance won’t save you from needing to shell out a huge sum of money should your pet have a costly procedure.

Whether you have pet insurance or not, it’s smart to build a separate savings fund for these costly vet emergencies so that you’re better able to handle the upfront charges until your claims have been processed and you’ve been reimbursed.

 

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3. Not everything is covered

The New York Times reported that even with pet insurance, owners on average would still need to pay around 20% of their pet’s medical expenses. Pet insurance policies usually don’t cover routine wellness checkups so you’ll need to pay for these yourself. There are also a number of hereditary or genetic conditions that aren’t covered by insurance. Each policy would differ so you need to check on each specific carefully.

4. Coverage has limits

A lot of pet insurance plans limit the amount you can claim. Depending on the plan or policy, the limit can be imposed annually or over your pet’s lifetime. Should your pet, under an unfortunate event, need major medical treatment, then you can max out your insurance’s limit immediately and you’ll end up paying the difference.

On the other side of the coin, if your pet only needs regular and routine vet care, then you won’t be saving much. Animals, a journal for zoology and veterinary sciences, reported that owners with pet insurance spend on average $324 out of pocket for a dog and $264 for a cat compared to the $251 for dogs and $146 for cats who aren’t insured.

The reason is that those with pet insurance take their pets to the vet more often compared to those who don’t have insurance.

Pet Insurance Premiums

All of these numbers don’t take into account yet the annual cost for pet insurance premiums. Given the average cost of $42.25 per month for a dog and $20.99 per month for a cat, the total insurance cost for your pets could be $833 for dogs and $515.88 for cats.

If your pet won’t have any big issues and be fortunate enough to not have to go through any major medical procedures, then the price of paying for insurance can outweigh the savings you get.

Should you enroll your pet in an insurance policy?

Just like a car, home, or property insurance, having pet insurance doesn’t automatically mean that you’ll save a ton of money given the average situation. But, if you find yourself and your pet in a catastrophic incident, an insurance policy becomes worth your money.

When your pet is healthy and active, you might think that you won’t save money with an insurance policy. However, you never know what might happen in the future. Your pet can suddenly develop an illness or get into an accident. Owners who have pet insurance have peace of mind knowing that their policy can help lessen the financial burden in these cases.

The average cost of common treatments for dogs is $252.75 while the average for cats is $252. Dr. Jenifer Welser is the Chief Medical Officer of BluePearl Veterinary Partners located in Tampa. According to Dr. Welser, pet insurance can help compensate routine costs but is specifically useful for unknown expenses. She adds that insurance coverage will allow pet owners to make decisions based on their pet’s needs instead of their financial abilities.

Consult with your veterinarian about possible health problems that are specific to your pet’s breed. You should also ask them if they recommend any insurance providers. If you want to enroll your pet in a comprehensive insurance policy, set your deductible to the highest your budget can afford.

How to Apply for Pet Insurance?

If you are planning to sign up for an insurance policy, prepare the name, age, breed, list of pre-existing conditions if any, and your vet’s name and contact details.

You should also take your pet for a checkup if you have not had one in the past 12 months. Take note that most insurance policies will have a waiting period. This means that your coverage won’t immediately start after an illness or accident. Waiting periods are set to make sure that people don’t get insured just because they need coverage for huge medical expenses. If you want insurance for your pets, it’s key to get one while your pets are still young and healthy.