When pets come into your life, they immediately become extended members of your family. And just like family, many people want to ensure that their pets are always in the best of health. Veterinary bills can add up quickly, causing pet owners to shell out more money than they anticipate if their pet gets sick or hurt.
It’s for this reason that many owners choose to get coverage or insurance for their pets at some point. This can come in many forms and there are more providers popping up now than ever before. But when should you get pet insurance? In this article, we are going to go over the pros and cons of pet insurance as well as lay out some of the most common types of coverage.
Why Get Pet Insurance?
Overall, many pet owners opt to get health insurance because they want to save money on certain pet procedures, general wellness care, or to cover pets that are prone to accidents or certain health problems. For example, bulldogs, pubs, and teacup breeds, are especially prone to health issues that may be included with insurance coverage.
What Are the Different Types of Coverage?
Typically, there are three main types of plans available in the pet insurance marketplace. The premiums may vary and the types of coverage available with each provider will be different. Here are the most common types of coverage.
Base coverage is usually the most affordable plan available. And it’s just that…basic. This coverage provides you with a low monthly fee and coverage for everyday procedures that may arise due to accidents, injuries, or illness.
For example, this plan may include treatment for broken bones, infections, and accidental poisonings. The plan will typically include a yearly deductible and reimbursement on a “per accident” or illness basis. There’s also a policy term limit, which is usually annual. You can find basic coverage plans for as low as $25 a month.
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Think of comprehensive coverage as full coverage, similar to auto insurance. This coverage is more thorough and provides complete reimbursements for emergencies, illnesses, and accidents. It also provides reimbursement for everyday care such as prescriptions, office visits, diagnostic tests, lab fees, and x-rays.
Comprehensive coverage is usually higher, includes a deductible, and can range anywhere from $50 a month to upwards of $120 or more. Similar to basic insurance it will have a yearly max for reimbursement.
Many providers also offer pet insurance wellness plans. These plans don’t necessarily fall under the “insurance” umbrella as they don’t have a yearly deductible. However, they do provide reimbursement for preventive care such as flea prevention, vaccinations, treatment for common cold and allergies, and semi-annual or quarterly physical exams. In some cases, there may be a small deductible for additional medical procedures.
The best coverage for your pet will depend on the type of pet that you have, its health history, age, and your budget. On average, you can expect to pay anywhere between $30 and $50 for sufficient pet insurance for a dog or cat. Exotic animals such as snakes, lizards, or rabbits may incur higher monthly rates.
What Costs Are Typically Covered?
Once you meet your annual deductible you will begin to receive reimbursement for any covered costs.
- Injuries resulting from accidents (wounds, broken bones)
- Antibiotics or other prescriptions
- Hospital stays
- Insect stings or bites, Allergic reactions to food
- X-rays, surgeries, X-rays, other scans
- Food poisoning
- Infections (ear, eye, urinary tract)
A comprehensive coverage plan may also include illnesses such as diabetes, cancer, arthritis, digestive issues, leukemia, etc., while some other policies may just cover accidents.
What Costs Aren’t Typically Covered?
Every plan is different, and some plans are more inclusive than others. Here are a few things that are typically not covered with pet insurance.
- Neutering or spaying
- Costs beyond annual max limit
- Routine dental maintenance
- Deductible amounts
- Pre-existing conditions
- Claims that occurred during the initial waiting period
- Annual wellness visits
- Routine blood work
- Preventative treatments for fleas, heartworm, ticks, etc.
Top Benefits of Pet Insurance
There are tons of different pet insurance providers to choose from these days, and many offer several types of coverage that you can customize to your specific pet. Just like any other consumer purchase, pet insurance will have its pros and cons. Let’s discuss some of the upsides and downsides of many pet insurance policies.
You Can Keep Your Preferred Vet
Pet insurance is different from insurance for humans in that you can usually keep your own personal veterinarian for the coverage. Unlike human insurance, which may require you to choose an ” in-network” provider. So as long as your pet’s veterinarian is licensed, you should be able to receive treatment and care at any hospital or clinic.
It Relieves Financial Burdens
Healthcare costs can add up quickly, especially if your pet is suffering from a health issue or has a major accident. Many pet insurance providers offer coverage up to 70 to 90% of a claim, and some insurance will even cover 100% of the total cost for treatment and procedures.
More Employers Are Including It Within Benefits Packages
Some employers are recognizing the important role that pets play in the lives of their employees. And as a result, many are offering pet insurance and their list of benefits. So this means that depending on where you are, you may not even have to pay a monthly premium for your pet insurance. In which case, you can simply pay the deductible amount, file a claim, and get reimbursed.
It Gives You Peace of Mind
Similar to car insurance, having pet insurance can give you peace of mind knowing that your pets are covered in case they have an accident or suddenly become ill. For many owners, the decision to pay for extensive medical procedures can be emotionally taxing, especially if they have children or other dependents. And of course, no one wants to make a painful choice between losing a beloved companion or paying their monthly household bills. Pet insurance can alleviate the financial strain that may come with unforeseen pet accidents in illnesses.
The Downsides of Pet Insurance
Though pet insurance has more than its share of benefits for pet owners regardless of your budget, it does come with certain considerations as well.
Some Routine Visits May Not Be Covered
Though this will vary by provider, some insurance companies simply won’t cover preventive exams, routine visits, or vaccinations. This means that in addition to paying your monthly premium, you’ll have to pay for these common costs as well–which is why it’s super important to pay attention to your coverage plan. Some providers may allow you to customize your plan to add this coverage, though it will typically come at the price of a higher monthly premium.
There Still May Be Out-Of-Pocket Costs
Sometimes even when you have pet insurance you may be responsible for additional costs. For example, if the procedure is only covered at 70%, you’ll still be responsible for the 30% as well as the deductible. So, depending on the type of cover you get, you may find yourself still in the red after you’re reimbursed. And don’t forget that all plans will have a yearly maximum benefit amount. If you go over this, you’ll pay for any future cost for the year out of your own pocket.
And then there are those pre-existing conditions. Similar to health insurance for humans, many providers won’t offer coverage for any condition that your pet had before you applied for their coverage. In fact, many providers will not provide you coverage if your pet has a serious pre-existing condition. This is something that will also vary by provider, so be sure to know what they will and won’t cover.
Wrapping Things Up
Pet insurance definitely has its benefits, and it can help relieve the financial burden that may come with pet illness and accident. However, it’s important to get a handful of quotes before choosing your final provider and it helps to know what type of coverage you’re looking for beforehand. On average, you can expect to pay anywhere from $20 to $50 a month for general pet insurance for your dog or cat.