We LOVE our pets and we’re showing it as we spend more each year for the health and happiness of our furry family members. But caring for a pet can be costly, especially with increasing veterinary prices. Out of $72.5 billion spent on pets in 2018, we spent $18 billion on veterinary care! Some people feel that they’re spending more on their vet bills than their own medical bills yet less than 1% have pet insurance. Their monthly premiums can be costly but the right plan can help save your finances in an emergency, could it be worth it in the long run?
Pet insurance is more straightforward than human insurance:
- There is no “in or out of network” so you can visit any vet.
- Insurance plans vary by “tiers” and can cover accidents, illnesses, and wellness care.
- Premiums are usually monthly or annual but it can still increase due to rising costs of vet care and the age of your pet.
- Pet insurance also has a deductible (the amount you pay before your plan kicks in) and a co-pay (the amount you must pay out of pocket).
- Most vets also require you to pay at the time of service which means you will still need to pay out of pocket, then you can file a claim to your insurance company and wait to be reimbursed.
- Some plans won’t cover office fees (the base price of taking your dog to be seen by a vet).
- Plans can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to reimburse you.
- Some plans have a maximum payout per year or per illness.
- The best time to get pet insurance is when your dog is young and healthy, most insurance companies will not cover costs from pre-existing conditions and also have higher monthly fees if your pet is older and unhealthy.
- There is a waiting period before your plan kick in. For example, 14 days for illnesses and 6 months for orthopedic conditions. If a condition occurs during the waiting period, it’ll count as a pre-existing condition and won’t be covered.
Before looking at our options, ask yourself why you are considering pet insurance. If you answered yes to any of these questions, pet insurance might be right for you!
1. Is my dog more susceptible to health issues or accidents due to breed, environment, or activity? Do you own a purebred dog like a cocker spaniel that is known for having many health issues? Or don’t know about your dog’s family health history? Does your dog partake in high intensity sports or lives in a high risk environment for disease, disasters, and wildlife? Evaluating your dog’s risk factors will help determine whether pet insurance will pay off in the long run. Although we can’t predict if our dog will need emergency care during their lifetime, we can consider these things to recognize how big or small their risk is.
2. Am I unable to pay for an unexpected emergency vet bill?
The cost for emergency vet care is no joke these days as prices for medication, equipment, and well-trained staff increases. The average cost depending on your area for emergency care ranges from $800-$1500 including common cases such as torn ligaments or intestinal blockages. For more severe cases, bills can add up towards $10,000. Many people can be unprepared for a sudden expense and it can be very stressful to recover or rebudget your spending around these bills especially with added interest.
3. Can I afford a smaller monthly expense for the remainder of my pet’s life?
A smaller monthly fee may be easier to manage for you because it’s predictable. In the end, insurance companies make money from their monthly premiums and investing it like a bank, since the majority of their customers do not need a payout. For some people, it may be more helpful to put the money towards a doggy emergency fund.
4. Do I want peace of mind?
After four dogs and two cats in my family, my Shiba Loki is the first pet that I purchased pet insurance for. After his long bout of kennel cough, my deductible was paid off and my insurance plan kicked in when he was just 4 months old. With the peace of mind that my plan will cover 80% of accidents or illness, I no longer worry about the financial concern when deciding whether or not to take him to a vet when I’m worried about his health. It can be less stressful and almost comforting to know that you have that financial safety net when it comes to your dog’s care.
Depending on the plan, your finances, and the health risk of your pet, pet insurance can be worth it for you! However, wellness coverage is not worth it! The cost of routine care like vaccines, flea and tick control, and spay/neuter isn’t high enough to make up for the cost of wellness coverage and 82% of pet policies don’t cover wellness for this reason.
Here is a list of some popular pet insurance companies to help you narrow down your options! Check out their websites and read through their plans before deciding. Also don’t be afraid to contact their customer service and ask them questions.
As mentioned earlier, pet insurance gives you a sense of safety. If your dog is prone to greater health risk due to its breed, history, activity, or environment it will be worth it to start a plan especially if they are young. If they are older and already have chronic health issues, pet insurance premiums would be too high so it would be better to save the money instead. Most importantly, if you cannot comfortably risk an emergency bill then pet insurance is a good idea. Sometimes, it can be difficult to prioritize pet care if it lines up with other emergency costs like human health care, home repairs, and more. With the right plan, pet insurance can help you live more comfortably with your furry family by helping you put the worry behind financial decisions aside.