In the United States, roughly 67 percent of households own pets—yet, only one percent of those pets are insured.
There are many common misconceptions about the pros and cons of pet insurance policies.
You never want to think about your dogs and cats growing ill or injured. But yet, these things sneak up when we least expect them. It’s important to plan so that you are prepared when disaster strikes.
No matter how careful or responsible you are with your pets, accidents happen. Given the cost of medical bills without this insurance, it’s worth a second thought.
Some employers have even begun to catch on to this idea. Much like human health coverage or group life policies, some employers offer affiliated pet insurance to help stem the costs of veterinary bills for their workers’ pets.
But for most of America that do not have access to employer-sponsored pet policies, this insurance is relatively easy to sign up for on your own.
While there are many pros and cons of pet insurance, one thing is true—pet insurance is worth the cost, even simply for the peace of mind. Please read below for a complete guide to whether pet insurance is worth it or not.
How Pet Insurance Works
Pet insurance works similarly to human health insurance. It is designed to alleviate some of the high costs associated with veterinary care.
Pet insurance is not required anywhere in the United States. But for pet parents who choose to enroll their dogs or cats may choose to pay an annual or monthly insurance premium for pet insurance coverage.
There are options for various levels of coverage, depending on your budget and coverage desires. Some of the more basic plans provide accident-only coverage. Other more expensive plans include injuries and genetic preexisting conditions, as well.
Though, one of the biggest differences between pet and human health insurance in the form of payment.
With human insurance, you typically run on a copay basis. This means you pay a fee to the doctor upfront, and they bill your insurance for the rest.
On the other hand, pet insurance companies mostly operate on a reimbursement basis. This means you pay the full cost upfront at the time of service. You submit a claim to the insurer after the fact.
From there, the insurer will reimburse the costs according to your policy. They may reimburse anywhere from 20 to 100 percent of covered costs.
It’s important to note that most policies do include a waiting period. This means you would be unable to get coverage for illnesses or accidents that occur within this timeframe.
The reason behind this is to prevent pet owners from signing up for a policy right before a big bill. The period is usually a matter of a few weeks.
So if you see yourself benefiting from pet insurance, it’s better to sign up sooner rather than later.
The Cost of Vet Bills Without Insurance
The estimated cost of routine preventative care visits can range from $45 to $200 per year for dogs. For cats, this figure can be anywhere between $50 to $400.
Examples of routine care costs include:
- Flea and tick prevention: $40 to $200
- Spay/neuter procedures: $35 to $400
- Vaccinations: $75 to $100
When it comes to sudden accidents and illnesses, these costs get even worse. Emergency visits can cost up to $2,000 per pet. Especially with multiple pets in one home, these costs can quickly add up.
Some common examples of emergency medical costs include:
- Bloodwork: $80 to $200
- X-Rays: $150 to $250
- Ultrasound: $300 to $600
- Wound treatment and repair: $800 to $1500
- Emergency surgery: $800 to $2500
- Oxygen therapy: $500
Plus, there are the costs of hospitalization during serious emergencies. For a one to two-day stay, the average cost is between $600 and $1700. For a three to five-day stay, you are looking at the cost of $1500 to $3500.
Furthermore, a pet emergency can lead to long-term expenses down the road. This is especially true in pet owners without insurance who can’t afford all of the required care.
Some issues may be overlooked or neglected, which can then manifest into further long-term problems.
Once these incidents occur, any corresponding injuries or illnesses that stem from this are typically considered pre-existing conditions. This makes it harder to find affordable coverage down the line if you so wish.
Pros and Cons of Pet Insurance
The idea of pet insurance can require a bit of mental back-and-forth.
Of course, covering your pets is not on the traditional list of insurance plans. Although, some dog bites and attacks can actually be covered under homeowners insurance.
These incidents are covered when they take place on your property. This can be very beneficial. Without it, you would be liable for paying the costs of reparative care out of pocket.
In turn, these may be included within an umbrella policy, as well. But these policies do not cover the cost of veterinary bills for unrelated accidents that cause harm to your dog or cat.
This is where pet insurance comes into play. Consider these pros and cons to obtaining this insurance for your furry friend.
One of the biggest benefits of pet insurance is its relative simplicity.
The procedure to buy a policy is much easier to navigate than human health insurance. You do not have to worry about the complicated plans and riders. Instead, pet policies are simple.
The tiers are easy to understand and compare so that you can find the best coverage level for your desired price point.
You also do not have to worry about changing vets. Unlike many human insurance plans, there are no “out-of-network” provider issues with pet insurance. The only qualification required is the provider’s license to practice veterinary medicine.
There is no need to worry about a vet “accepting” your plan. Due to the coverage’s reimbursement structure, you only need to take home a copy of the invoice from the vet. Submit that with a claim form to your insurer, and let them handle the rest.
Plus, premiums are usually relatively low. This is especially true if your pet is young and/or healthy and for lower-tiered coverage. Deductibles are also usually reasonably-priced.
Furthermore, there are additional non-medical benefits to some pet health insurance plans. This might even include the cost of advertising and rewards if your pet is lost or stolen.
One of the main detractors of obtaining pet insurance is the recurring added cost. While it’s true that coverage requires a monthly or yearly fee, this can often be lower than the average cost of one emergency vet visit.
Plus, those who have pet insurance are more likely to seek care for their pets than those without this plan. When times are tough, there is added peace of mind that you do not have to shoulder the costs of veterinary care by yourself.
Another common complaint is the coverage payment structure. With pet insurance, you are required to pay the full amount upfront. Depending on your deductible and the terms of your plan, the amount you get back will vary.
Though it can be difficult to cough this money up at once, it would be much of the same without pet insurance. Except, there would be no recourse to recover some of the funds spent on vet bills.
Though inconvenient, reimbursement helps to relieve some of the financial burdens of vet bills.
Finally, another con of pet insurance is the coverage limitations. Many plans include limits on how much you can claim, either yearly or over the pet’s lifetime.
Depending on the coverage level you choose, this could be maxed out somewhat quickly if your pet suffers an unfortunate major medical issue. Once it is maxed out, you are stuck paying the remainder of any costs out of pocket.
It’s true, and this can present a financial struggle for pet parents with habitually sick or injured pets. It’s important to remember that any help in covering these costs can go a long way.
For chronically ill pets or suffer a major medical problem, even a little bit of reimbursement can make a huge difference.
The Cost of Pet Insurance
The average cost for dog pet insurance is roughly $22 monthly for accident-only coverage. For cats, it hovers around $16 monthly. For higher-tier plans that provide more coverage, the monthly cost rises to about $80 or higher.
The actual cost of pet insurance will depend on a variety of factors. These include the pets:
- Health status and history
Most plans also require a deductible. This is the price you pay out of pocket before coverage comes into play.
Deductible prices vary widely based on the policy. They could fall anywhere from $0 to $2,500 per year.
Pet Insurance Plans Available
It may feel overwhelming at first to select an insurance plan for your furry friend. But it’s important to begin this process as soon as possible. This way, you reap the greatest rewards from your policy.
When you are looking to enroll in pet insurance, try to do this early in the dog or cat’s life as you can. The younger they are, the more you can potentially save. Most often, pets older than eight weeks are eligible for insurance coverage.
In addition to pet insurance, it can be helpful to build up an emergency fund. This will help offset deductibles, non-covered issues, and unexpected out of pocket costs. Again, this will serve to provide added peace of mind during a stressful time.
The plans available to your pet will depend on various factors.
What is Typically Included
The eligible coverages will depend entirely on which plan you select. Generally speaking, there are three types of insurance for your dog or cat.
The first tier is an accident-only policy.
This plan covers the cost of emergency treatments for your pets only in the case of an accident. Each insurer may have a slightly different definition of what an “emergency medical situation” consists of, but it generally covers injuries stemming from sudden accidents.
So something like a leg fracture resulting from a car accident would very likely be covered. But something like a skin mass removal or cyst drainage would not.
These plans have a lower monthly cost, respectively. But, they also come with a lower reimbursement rate than other categories.
The second tier is an accident/illness policy. These cover the above criteria, as well as diseases. This includes acquired or inherited illnesses—like heartworm disease or cancer.
It also covers infections that are not directly trauma-related. Furthermore, physical rehabilitation is often covered under this plan.
The third tier is an accident, illness, and wellness coverage. This is the most expensive plan in terms of monthly fees—but it also provides the highest reimbursements.
Top-tier plans usually cover extra steps like non-routine vet exams and cancer treatments. It also usually includes routine checkups and other preventative measures to promote overall wellness. These include:
- “Well pet” checkups
- Spaying and neutering
- Dental care
- Routine vaccinations and booster shots
- Other medications to treat conditions not covered by accident/illness policies
- Prescription diets
- Teeth cleanings and other non-emergency dental work
With the right plan, you can enjoy coverage of diagnostics, treatments, and medications under this plan. Depending on your desired level of coverage and budget, there is a plan for just about every dog and cat.
What is Typically Not Included
One of the most important factors to mention when weighing the pros and cons of pet insurance is that pre-existing conditions are never covered. Some curable conditions may become eligible down the line. But this would require a coverage waiting period without any symptom recurrence.
For dogs without preexisting conditions, preventative care is also not included in pet insurance unless you elect wellness care.
Additionally, cosmetic procedures are not included. These are commonly seen in procedures like ear cropping, tail docking, and declawing. While these may look good to pet owners, they are not directly related to the health of your cat or dog. Therefore, they are not covered by pet insurance.
Finally, breeding costs are usually not included in pet insurance coverage.
How to Find the Right Plan
When shopping around for the right pet insurance plan, it can sometimes be beneficial to talk to your vet.
They can give you a better idea of any health issues specific to your breed of dog or cat. Plus, they may be able to offer recommendations on coverages.
When it comes to selecting the best insurance policy, you should carefully weigh your options. Go through each policy diligently. This way, you can locate which plans will provide the most bang for your buck.
Furthermore, you should do a careful check on potential insurance providers. These companies should have great ratings and reviews from current customers. Financial stability, claim repayment reputation, and customer service are all important areas that should factor into your decision.
The Information Required to Purchase a Pet Insurance Plan
To sign up for pet insurance, you will need to provide specific information. This includes your pet’s:
- Preexisting conditions
- Vet’s name and contact info
Generally speaking, your policy will also require your pet to have visited their vet within the past year.
Frequently Asked Questions
With all things considered, pet insurance is typically a worthwhile investment for most animals. But, there are important factors to take into consideration.
Is Pet Insurance Worth It?
Pet insurance is certainly worth the cost for a pet owner who looks forward to enjoying their furry friend’s long life.
Like other forms of insurance, it will not serve to “make” you money. You will still have to pay a premium regularly, and you will likely have a deductible when you submit a claim. But in the worst-case scenario, pet insurance can make a huge difference.
You can’t predict how or when your pet may get sick or suffer a sudden injury. Furthermore, there is no way to foresee this cost.
You may try to save money in advance, but this can still come up short. Plus, there may be other pressing family matters that require you to borrow from these funds. In the end, it might not be enough to get your pet the care they need in a time of crisis.
When your pet is sick or injured, it’s already a stressful enough time. The last thing you want to worry about is having to decide if you can afford to care for your furry friend.
Instead, pet insurance provides peace of mind during these situations. You know your pet is covered, and you do not have to stress about the cost of caring for your dog or cat.
Plus, pet insurance replaces more drastic measures—like short-term loans that carry a high-interest rate. High-interest credit cards and unsecured personal loans can cause an even greater financial burden in the long run.
With pet insurance, you no longer need to turn to these options to finance your pet’s required medical care.
Do Vets Recommend Pet Insurance?
For most dogs and cats, vets do recommend pet insurance. This is important to them, as it ensures the pet receives the care they need—especially in emergencies.
Furthermore, it helps avoid what is known as “economic euthanasia.” This occurs when a pet owner elects to put their dog or cat down rather than seek the needed medical care.
This decision is made largely due to the costs of care. If the pet parent can’t afford the treatment their animal needs, but they do not want them to suffer without it, pet owners may feel it is their only choice.
With pet insurance, you can reduce some (or all) of the costs associated with emergency vet bills. This can ensure your pet gets the care they need—without breaking the bank.
Are There Additional Coverage Options?
Standard coverage for pet insurance includes areas like:
- Accidents and injuries
- Vet exam fees
- Diagnostic treatments
- Prescription medications
- Surgery and rehabilitation
- Alternative therapies
But if you wish, you can seek out optional coverage on top of these plans. This ensures greater peace of mind, plus reduced stress during already hectic times.
Some examples of optional coverage you may elect for include:
- Behavioral therapies
- Loss due to theft or straying
- Advertising and reward
- Boarding and kennel fees
- Death from illness or injury
- Vacation cancellation
These non-traditional benefits can be a difference-maker in your pet’s overall health and well-being. Consider adding these optional coverage options to your policy to give your cat or dog its best opportunities.
What Is a Policy’s Reimbursement Rate?
When comparing policies, you may notice the mention of a “reimbursement rate.” This refers to the rate at which the insurer will return the cost of eligible expenses. This is calculated after the deductible is applied.
Most pet policies have reimbursement rates that hover in the range of 70 to 90 percent. For higher-tier plans, you may be able to gain a higher percentage back in reimbursements. Though, these plans also carry a significantly higher premium.
What About Coverage for Pets Other Than Dogs or Cats?
Exotic pets are considered to be domestic animals beyond a dog or cat. Insurance options for these creatures are more limited, though coverage does still exist.
Locating the Best Pet Insurance Company
There are important factors to ponder when weighing the pros and cons of pet insurance. But, all things considered, these policies are worth the price for most cats and dogs in the US.
For all of your insurance needs in Massachusetts, turn to the experts—LoPriore Insurance Agency. Our dedicated team of independent agents will work directly with you.
We will help you determine the best plan to protect your pet without breaking the bank. For more information or to purchase a policy for your furry friend, contact an experienced insurance agent today.