You have insurance for your health, your car, your house — but what about your pets? If you don’t currently have pet insurance, you’re not alone. While around 90.5 million U.S families have pets, just 3.9 million pets actually have pet insurance policies, according to recent data from the Insurance Information Institute.
Though, given the price of vet care, it’s worth looking into. Emergency vet visits can cost anywhere between $1,000-$5,000, sometimes more. And if your pet needs major surgery or treatment for a an unexpected illness, traumatic injury, or a disease such as cancer, you might spend upwards of $10,000 or more.
If you’ve ever found yourself at the animal hospital at an ungodly hour with a beloved pet in distress, you know what it’s like to be willing to shell out pretty much anything to make your pal feel better. But that dedication to our pets can also lead to financial ruin, which is why pet insurance is worth the cost for many pet owners.
We’ve put together this blog to help you determine if pet insurance is worth it for you and your pets. So read on for a brief synopsis of how pet insurance works and some key pros and cons!
How Does Pet Insurance Work?
Similar to human health insurance, pet insurance providers alleviate some of the costs of keeping your pet healthy. But it works a little differently. Here is some key terminology you should know before shopping around for policies.
- Coverage – As with most insurance companies you can choose from different levels of coverage, with each plan costing a monthly or annual rate based on how much coverage you choose. Some plans cover basic scenarios like accidents and injuries, some only cover accidents, while others include injury, accident and illness, as well as genetic/hereditary conditions and wellness visits.
- Deductibles – Many insurance plans have a deductible. This is a certain amount you must pay out of pocket before coverage kicks in. Depending on your policy, this could be anywhere from $0 to $1,000 (or more) in a plan year. Typically, higher-deductible plans will yield lower monthly rates.
- Rates – Rates are calculated based on your pet’s age, breed, health condition, your location and your level of chosen coverage. For most pet parents, accident-only coverage is the most affordable; accident and illness coverage is moderately priced; and the plans that include all of the above plus wellness care and even end of life related expenses have the most expensive monthly or annual rates.
- Claims – While human health insurance works on a copay basis, pet insurance is largely a matter of reimbursement. You pay the full amount due when you take your pet in for care, then submit a claim to the insurance company afterward. Depending on your policy, they’ll pay you back anywhere from 20% to 100% of covered costs.
Is Pet Insurance Worth it?
You may wonder about the advantages and disadvantages of getting pet insurance for your furry friend. You may even ask yourself, “does my vet recommend it?” and “how do I know if my pet needs it?” If you find yourself asking these questions, think about it this way: Insurance is designed to protect you and your pet against an unexpected and expensive medical emergency. But like anything, it has its pros and cons. Here are the key pros and cons of pet insurance.
- Reasonable cost – Pet insurance costs vary from provider to provider, as do the factors that determine the price. However, you’ll likely pay between $20-$50 per month for a cat and between $50-$80 per month for a dog. And, if it seems a bit expensive, remember that your monthly rate is significantly lower than the standard charges at an emergency clinic.
- You don’t have to change veterinarians – Unlike traditional health insurance for humans where only “in-network” providers accept your coverage, pet insurance applies across the board. So you won’t have to hunt around for a new veterinarian once signed up. You can stay with the one that’s always cared for your animal and that you trust the most.
- There’s a plan for everyone – Say you only want a baseline level of pet insurance to cover routine visits and maybe some annual shots. Then you can sign up for an insurance plan that does just that. And if you want a more robust plan that covers additional items like surgical procedures and prescriptions then you can find a plan that covers those, too. Bottom line: You can build a plan that works for your pet and your budget.
- Peace of mind – As with other types of insurance, pet insurance provides peace of mind for you as a pet owner. The sad reality is that many individuals find themselves unable to financially support adequate veterinary care for a seriously ailing animal. Some folks have even had to make the heartbreaking decision to euthanize their beloved pet because they were unable to afford treatment. Pet insurance removes the owner from that difficult position and they’ll never be forced to choose between their pet and their bank account.
- You’ll still have to pay something – Pet insurance can help reduce costs. But, depending on what issue your pet has and the recommended treatment, you may still wind up having to go into your pocket depending on how much your plan covers.
- It doesn’t work like your human health insurance – With human health insurance, your provider submits a claim on your behalf, leaving you with little to pay in the office and your bill (if there is one) comes later. Pet insurance on the other hand requires you to pay the bill upfront. You’re then responsible for filing the claim with your pet’s insurance company who will reimburse you at a later date.
- Pre-existing conditions may disqualify your pet from coverage – This is another way that pet insurance differs from health insurance for humans. In some cases, your pet may be turned down for insurance coverage if they have pre-existing conditions. This is why it’s important to apply for coverage early in your pet’s life. Acting early can get you a cost-effective plan before your pet develops any health issues.
Your Pets are our Priority!
At the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC), our number one priority is to promote the health and wellbeing of your pets. That is why we created the NASC Audit Program and the Quality Seal, which helps you identify animal health and nutritional supplements that come from responsible suppliers committed to producing the highest quality, most consistent products available. Visit our website to learn more and to see a list of NASC members that have earned the Quality Seal.