When you get your first pet, you become aware of how much it costs to take care of one. With food, treats, toys, accessories, and vet bills, the expenses can add up quickly. Even the smallest vet emergency can cost hundreds of dollars and put a strain on any budget.
That’s where pet insurance comes in. Pets are an important part of many people’s families but they aren’t cheap or risk-free. It’s not uncommon for pet owners to spend $1500 a year in vet bills for their dog and $900 on their cat each year. Pet insurance is designed to help you cope with those costs in case something unexpected happens.
With the right plan, you won’t have to choose between providing the best care for your pet and being able to afford the vet bill. Let’s take a look at what to look for when purchasing pet insurance and if the pet insurance cost is worth it.
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The Basics of Pet Insurance
Since most people are familiar with car insurance, it’s a good place to start for understanding the basics of pet insurance. When you choose car insurance, you decide how much coverage you want for what kinds of incidents. The more you add to your policy, the more you can expect to pay. Most insurance plans have a deductible, which is an amount you agree to pay out-of-pocket if you use your insurance.
You also have a monthly payment, called a premium. The higher your deductible, the lower your premium. This works if you need to keep your monthly bill low, but it can catch up to you if you actually need your insurance, as your out-of-pocket cost will be higher.
Pet insurance works by reimbursement, meaning that you pay your vet bill in full at the time of service. You then submit the bill to your pet insurance carrier, who reimburses you the amount agreed upon in your policy. This can save you thousands of dollars over the course of your pet’s life, and provide peace of mind that your household budget won’t be turned upside-down in the event of a vet emergency.
How to Choose a Policy
When purchasing pet insurance, just as with purchasing car insurance, there are different kinds of coverage that cover different kinds of events.
Accident-only pet insurance only covers injuries or incidents involving accidents. It may be more likely that an active dog has an accident than an indoor-only cat, but accidents can happen indoors just as easily.
All pets eventually get sick in some way, and illness insurance can be there to help when it does. Whether it’s catching something from being outside or cancer, illness coverage can make the situation a lot easier.
The best of both worlds is a comprehensive policy. This covers your pet in the case of both accident and illness.
Checkups, vaccinations, and preventive treatments aren’t covered by a comprehensive plan but are often available as add-ons to your policy. If you want the best coverage all around, you’ll want to ask about your options for wellness add-ons.
Your type of pet, choice of pet insurance provider, and the type of policy you decide on will determine what you can expect to pay for pet insurance. 98% of policy holders choose both accident and illness plans. The monthly premium for insuring your dog is around $30 to $50; cats generally have a lower monthly premium, at around $15 to $30.
How Long It Takes for Reimbursement
There’s no need to be part of a network to use pet insurance, unlike some kinds of health insurance. You can take your pet to any veterinarian you like, wherever you are. This is because you pay the bill upfront at the time of service and submit the bill for reimbursement by your pet insurer in line with the terms of your policy. Reimbursement usually takes 5 to 9 days on average, so your household budget won’t be bogged down for weeks at a time after your pet receives care.
It’s important to be an informed consumer, especially when your pet’s health is on the line. All insurance policies have fine print, so it’s a good idea to take a closer look. For example, pre-existing conditions may be covered if they’re curable with no sign of symptoms for a set period. Look for details about inherited conditions, elective procedures, and breed-specific conditions as well. Most pet insurance policies can’t be opened for very young or elderly animals.
88% of pet owners consider their pets to be members of the family. When you bring a pet into your household, you’re making a commitment. Pet insurance is a great way to make sure they get the care they need when they need it.