Before you decide whether you want to purchase pet insurance, you should know what it is and its benefits. Getting a policy for your animal is a personal choice when you own a pet. It can provide you peace of mind should your animal gets sick or is injured.
While it does cost money to purchase it, pet insurance can save you in the long run. But you should know that this type of policy works differently than your own health care plan. We can show you what you need to know to make the decision if pet insurance is worth the expense.
Pet insurance is a healthcare policy especially made for your animal to protect you from paying high medical care fees. A pet insurance plan costs a premium, just as your health insurance does. Then, when you need to see a vet when your animal gets injured or sick visits, you pay less than you would otherwise. Policies vary. It is important to realize that most policies do not cover well visits unless you opt to add this “wellness plan” onto your policy.
What Kinds of Animals?
Health insurance is available for many types of pets such as:
- exotic birds
- potbelly pigs
- and more!
Most pet health insurance premiums are paid on a monthly basis. They range in cost but on average you can expect to pay several hundred dollars each year. You can go to any licensed vet you like but you will be required to pay for care out of pocket to the vet and then submit for reimbursement. You must meet your deductible before the plan will reimburse. Also, certain conditions are excluded in coverage.
Typical animal health insurance is structured like this:
- Deductible: The money you as the pet owner has to pay towards a bill before the insurer pays. This can range from $0 to $1,000.
- Reimbursement level: After the deductible is paid by the pet owner, the percentage of the bill that will be reimbursed by the insurer. Usually, this is anywhere from 50% to 100%.
- Annual max: The maximum amount your insurer will pay in vet bills each year. Any charges incurred above the max will need to be paid by the pet owner out of pocket.
When you sign up for pet insurance, expect to have to wait. This is to prevent people from getting insurance when their pet is already sick. You’ll also be required to have a wellness check to establish any pre-existing condition – an ailment your pet already has prior to taking on the insurance coverage. The age of the animal also is considered when you join.
Before deciding to get your animal insured, you should familiarize yourself with various plan offerings. Most standard pet insurance will cover most accidents and illnesses, but expect that they will exclude coverage for things like:
- Dental disease
- Preexisting or hereditary conditions
- Behavior issues
- Routine check-ups, preventative care, vaccines
- Hip dysplasia
- Tick and flea treatment
- Alternative therapies
Should You Have a Pet Emergency Fund Instead?
You might be thinking, given the long list of exclusions with pet insurance, maybe I should just save some money for the emergencies. Consider that for a cat or a dog it costs between $3000-$6000 in premiums to insure them for 10 years. It might make more sense for you to save this money instead if you can. By putting away $30-$50 a month, after 10 years, you’ll have saved $3600-$6000. Most illness in pets happen in their older years. The only consideration is that if your pet gets injured or sick earlier in its life, you won’t have saved much yet.
Is it Worth it?
Before you make your decision on pet insurance, make sure you do your research in a variety of policies and discuss it with your family. Consider the various policy’s coverages – what they cover and what they don’t. Look at the premiums and the deductibles.
Without an insurance policy, your pet can cost you thousands of dollars in veterinary bills. Realize that with an illness or injury, treatment can cost you as little as a few hundred dollars or upwards of $6000 for surgery.
If you opt to purchase pet insurance, it will cost you approximately $30-40 each month.
Pet insurance ultimately is a personal choice for you and your pet. Depending on your situation, you may opt to buy pet insurance to give you peace of mind. Understanding what pet insurance is and how it works should make it an easier decision for you. Ultimately, you’ll be a responsible pet owner by educating yourself of vet costs.