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  • Writer's pictureVickie Foster

Should You Have Pet Insurance?



You don’t see geckos touting the advantages of pet insurance on TV. So you may not realize there is such a thing. A little over 90 million families in the U.S. have pets. Yet, despite the large number only a little under 4 million families have pet insurance, according to the Insurance Information Institute. If you don’t have it either you’re not alone.


The ASPCA reports that you will spend $225 yearly for routine vet appointments for dogs and $160 for cats. This does not include the $800 to $2,500 that an emergency visit can cost. If your pet gets cancer that you choose to treat, the cost can skyrocket to $10,000 plus.


Pet owners will often do anything to bring relief to their dog or cat in pain or medical distress. The consequences can be financially disastrous though. These are the scenarios that pet insurance is made for.


One insurance provider, Lemonade, says that pet insurance provides pet owners with peace of mind and provides insurers a way to save money on routine care by following preventative plans.


How Pet Insurance Works

It’s much the same as human insurance works just a little differently.


You can choose a different level of coverage. Each level gives you more coverage for a monthly or annual premium that increases depending on the level you choose.

Plans and their coverage levels cover accidents, illnesses and injuries. Some include well visits and preventative care.


In general, the more care the plan covers the more expensive it is. Accident only coverage is the cheapest. Accident, illness, wellness care and preventative care is the most expensive.


In almost every case, pre-existing conditions are not covered.


Plans have annual deductibles that you pay out of pocket before you receive coverage. It can run up to $2,500 per year or less. Higher deductible plans have lower monthly premiums.


Instead of a co-pay to your provider, most plans work on a reimbursement basis. You pay the vet up front, then turn in a claim. Depending on your policy you will get reimbursed anywhere from 20 to 100%. You may have to put the vet charges on a credit card temporarily until you get reimbursed.


Plans rates are figured taking into account your pets breed, age and your locale. Remember that various dog breeds have medical conditions that may need to be covered. Vet expenses are more in some parts of the country. The average cost for accident and illness coverage is $48.66/month (or $584/year). The same coverage for a cat is about 40% less, says the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA).


Here are some of the pros of Pet Insurance


1. Easy to compare

Pet insurance is easy to compare between providers. Plans are simple, levels of coverage are easy to compare, and quotes from various companies are quickly provided.


2. Young pets are cheaper to cover

If your pet is young, healthy or you choose a lower level plan, you can get it for less than a streaming service per month.


3. Deductibles are reasonable

Compared to the cost of an emergency visit to the vet, one month’s deductible is affordable. With an emergency visit you could pay at least the same amount of the deductible and then a lot more. But you would get your out-of-pocket costs back. Plus you will be providing the extra care your pet needs.


4. You use the vet of your choice.

As long as your vet is accredited you can use whatever vet you want. You will just need a copy of the invoice and sometimes for them to fill out a portion of the claim form and you are good to go.


5. Peace of Mind

You will have the assurance of knowing you can provide medical care for your pet. Many times owners have to make the heartbreaking choice of “medical euthanasia” when they don’t have the financial means to provide the care their pet needs. With pet insurance you won’t have that worry.


Cons of Pet Insurance

1. Possibly high premiums


If you have an older pet, a pet with a pre-existing condition, or you choose a higher tier, you can wind up spending $50 a month on premiums. The more customized your coverage the higher your premium will be.


2. Paying up front still required

No matter what policy you have you will still have to pay the entire vet bill when service is rendered. It’s best to have an emergency fund to be able to tap into for vet care.


3. Not Everything is covered

You will have to pay a deductible before your coverage kicks in. Additionally, routine exams are not covered.


4. There are limitations

Many plans have either annual or lifetime limitations you can claim. Shop for a plan with unlimited coverage. You will pay more in premiums but you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing your pet is covered.


5. You can have even more costs

For routine care you will not save much with pet insurance. To sum up, pet insurance is mostly for those rare but expensive situations where your pet will rack up more care.


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