Is pet insurance worth it? Our pros and cons for 2021

you have insurance For your health, for your car, for your home, but what about your pets? Do they have pet insurance coverage?

If you don’t currently have pet insurance, you’re not alone. While about 67% of American households own pets, just over 1% of those pets are insured, according to the Pet Health Insurance Association of North America.

But given the price of veterinary care, it’s worth considering. The ASPCA estimates The annual cost of routine vet visits is $80 to $250 for dogs and $110 to $550 for cats depending on the age of your pet. Emergency veterinary visits can cost from $800 – $1500, and sometimes more.

If you ever find yourself at the animal hospital at three in the morning with a lovable pet in distress, you know what it feels like to be ready to toss just about anything to make Oscar feel better.

That’s why we’ve put together this breakdown to help pet owners decide: Is pet insurance worth it for you and your pets?

How does pet insurance work?

Like human health insurance, pet insurance companies help mitigate some of the costs of keeping your pet healthy. You can choose from different levels of coverage, with each plan costing a monthly or yearly premium based on the amount of coverage you choose.

Some plans cover basic scenarios such as accidents and injuries, others cover accidents only, and still others include accidents, injuries and hereditary/genetic conditions. The more comprehensive the coverage, the higher you can expect the cost to be.

professional advice

Whether you choose pet insurance or not, start an emergency fund now for veterinary care to make sure you can handle unexpected out-of-pocket costs.

Many plans have a deductible, a certain amount that you must pay out of pocket before coverage begins. Depending on your policy, this can range from 0 to $2,500 per plan year. Plans with a higher discount usually give you a better percentage of your money back.

While human health insurance operates on a co-pay basis (you pay a certain percentage when you see a doctor and insurance covers the rest), pet insurance is largely a matter of compensation.

You pay the full amount due when you take your pet into care, and file a claim with the insurance company afterwards. Depending on your policy, they will reimburse you anywhere from 20 to 100% of covered costs.

Prices are calculated based on your pet’s age and breed, as well as your location (vet costs are higher in some areas than others).

How much does pet insurance cost?

While individual costs will vary based on your pet’s breed, age, health, and class of choice, across 11 of the best pet insurance companies, the average monthly cost of dog insurance is $42.45, while pet insurance for cats costs an average of $20.99. per month, according to penguin value.

Do you have an exotic pet (anything other than a dog or cat)? Your options are more limited, but you can still find coverage. paying off Pet Assure And the nationally For plans of birds, rabbits, reptiles and other members of the animal kingdom.

A dog receiving cancer treatment at BluePearl Veterinary Partners in Tampa, Florida. Tina Russell / The Penny Hoarder

5 Pros of Pet Insurance

1. Easy to compare options

Unlike human health insurance, which can be a maze of plans and passengers, you need a professional to help decipher, and pet insurance is relatively simple. Policies are simple, levels are easy to compare, and you can get a no-obligation quote from different companies in a matter of minutes, which makes buying quotes easy.

2. Premiums can be low for small pets

If your pet is young or healthy, or you choose a lower category, you can get coverage for less than the monthly cost of a premium coffee and croissant. It’s not a high price to pay for the security of knowing your pet can get the help they need.

3. Reasonable deductions

Compared to the cost of visiting the ER for animals late at night, most plans discounts are quite affordable. If, God forbid, your pet gets a serious injury or illness, you may end up paying at least the cost of the deductible anyway – but with insurance, you can have extra care for your pet and peace of mind about vet bills you might not have Carry it on your own.

4. You have to choose your vet

There are no problems for “off-the-grid” providers when it comes to pet insurance. As long as the vet is licensed, eligible expenses should be covered and there Do not worry If your vet “accepts” your plan. Since you pay the cost out of your pocket and then file a claim with the company for reimbursement, all you need from your vet is a copy of their bill and to fill out a section of the claim form.

5. You can do more for your pet

the negative Reports Pet insurance owners are more likely to seek medical care for their pets than those without insurance. Nobody wants to have to choose between a sick pet and a mountain of debt. Too many pet owners, facing a catastrophic medical crisis they weren’t prepared for, are forced to make the heartbreaking decision to opt for ‘economic euthanasia,’ USA Today Reports. If you invest in pet insurance, you can save yourself — and your pet — from facing such a decision.

The four disadvantages of pet insurance

1. Premiums can be higher for older pets

If your pet is older, has a pre-existing condition or you choose a high tier, you might be looking at monthly premiums of $40 or more. You’ll want to evaluate if the annual cost makes sense for you.

2. You still have to pay in advance

Getting pet insurance won’t save you from having to shell out big money if your pet needs an expensive procedure. Whether or not you have coverage, it’s wise to have a separate veterinary emergency provident fund to make sure you can handle upfront fees until your claims are processed.

3. It does not cover everything

On average, pet owners who have insurance still pay about 20% of their pets’ medical expenses, according to a report from New York times. style Wellness checks are usually not covered, so you’ll still be paying for those who don’t. Some genetic/genetic conditions may also not be covered; Be sure to review the details of each policy carefully.

4. Coverage has limits

Many plans also specify how much you can claim, either annually or over the life of your pet. If your pet is unfortunate enough to have a major medical problem, you can max out your plan quickly and find yourself paying the difference. That’s when the pet insurance costs seemed worth it.

If your pet only needs routine veterinary care, you won’t save much. If they insure their pets, owners spend an average of $324 out of pocket on a dog and $264 out of pocket for a cat, according to the Journal of Zoology and Veterinary Science, the animalsCompared to $251 for an uninsured dog and $146 for an uninsured cat.

This is largely, and not surprising, that pet insurance owners take their animals to the vet more often than those without insurance.

Then there are the premiums

These numbers do not include the annual price of pet insurance premiums. With an average cost of $42.45 a month for dogs and $20.99 a month for cats, insuring your pet could mean your total costs could be as high as $833 for a dog or $515.88 for cats. If your pet is lucky enough to avoid any major issues, the cost of pet health insurance may outweigh the savings.

A dog is being held by two veterinary technicians while receiving cancer treatment.
Veterinary technicians comfort a dog while he is receiving cancer treatment at BluePearl Veterinary Partners in Tampa, Florida. Tina Russell / The Penny Hoarder

Should you get pet insurance?

Like property insurance (car, home, etc.), you won’t necessarily “save” or “make” money in an average scenario, but in the event of a disaster, you may find it worth the investment.

While you may not get the most out of a relatively healthy pet, there is no way to predict what illnesses or injuries may occur, and for many pet owners, knowing they have a safety net in place is valuable. enough.

According to data based on average claims from PetFirst owners, the most popular dog treats cost an average of $252.75, while the most popular cat treatments cost $266.79.

“Pet insurance can help offset routine medical expenses and can be especially beneficial for the unknown,” said Dr. Jennifer Welser, chief medical officer of BluePearl Veterinary Partners in Tampa. “Maintaining coverage may give you freedom to make medical decisions for your beloved pet based on quality of life, not financial resources.”

professional advice

To get the most out of pet insurance, register your pet when it is young for maximum savings.

Talk to your vet to get an idea of ​​the potential health problems for your pet’s breed, and ask them what insurance they recommend. If you decide to opt for catastrophic coverage (generally the best cost-to-savings option), go for the highest deductible you can afford.

Dog staring at the camera.
A dog waits to be checked at BluePearl Veterinary Partners in Tampa, Florida. Tina Russell / The Penny Hoarder

How to get pet health insurance

To sign up for pet health insurance, you will need the following information for your pet:

  • Noun
  • Reproduction
  • age
  • Pre-existing conditions (if any)
  • Veterinarian’s name and contact information

Ask a vet to see your pet if you haven’t done so within the past year.

Most policies have waiting periods, which means you can’t get coverage immediately after an accident or illness. (This ensures that people don’t sign up for coverage only when they know they need to cover a large bill.) So if you think you’re interested in pet insurance, apply now before you end up needing it.

Kelly Journett is Managing Editor at Money Crashers and wrote this as a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.

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