Pet Insurance: What It Is, What It Covers, & Should You Get It?
If you have a furry, feathered, or scaly friend living with you, chances are that you buy them all the creature comforts to keep them happy, including tasty treats, plush beds, and a ton of toys! Aside from all the fun stuff, keeping your pet healthy is also a top priority. This includes regular veterinary visits and medical treatment if your pet has a health issue.
However, pet medical expenses can quickly add up. According to the American Pet Products Association's National Pet Owners Survey, a routine vet visit costs about $242 for a dog and $178 for a cat. And, depending on the health of your pet, surgery costs an average of $458 for a dog and $201 for a cat. Pet insurance is one way to help offset some of the cost of a pet's medical care.
What Does Pet Insurance Cover?
Pet insurance is a type of health insurance policy that pays a portion of a pet's medical bills. You can buy a policy that covers a wide range of health problems. Some plans even cover costs such as microchipping or end-of-life expenses for a pet.
Here is what most of the best pet insurance plans cover:
- Accidents and injuries, such as poisonings, sprains and ACL ruptures
- Chronic illnesses such as allergies, arthritis and skin conditions
- Common illnesses such as ear infections, vomiting and diarrhea
- Serious illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes
- Hereditary conditions such as hip dysplasia, eye disorders and blood disorders
- Testing and diagnostics such as X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, blood tests and ultrasounds
- Procedures such as surgeries, hospitalizations, nursing care, endoscopies and chemotherapy
- Holistic and alternative procedures such as acupuncture, chiropractic and laser therapy
- Wellness procedures such as vaccinations, flea/heartworm and spay/neuter
- Behavioral therapy for problems such destructive chewing, excessive barking and aggression
The most expensive plans will be those that cover everything. You can buy a policy with fewer benefits if you don't want one that covers a wide range of problems.
For instance, you can buy insurance for your pet that only covers accidents. Some pet insurance plans cover dental problems like gum disease and dental accidents (such as broken teeth). For example, some policies offer "accident-only" pet insurance for a flat rate of $6 per month for cats and $9 per month for dogs, regardless of their breed. But keep in mind that if you have an accident-only policy, you'll have to pay for all medical costs that aren't caused by an accident, like skin problems, ear infections, and cancer.
What Doesn’t Pet Insurance Cover?
Here are some common pet insurance exclusions:
- Conditions that already existed. This is an illness or injury your pet had before your coverage began. Some plans might not always keep pre-existing conditions from being covered. For example, some insurance policies may give you more coverage if your pet's medical records show that he or she has been better for at least six months.
- Experimental treatment. This includes diagnoses and treatments that are considered experimental, under investigation, or not in line with the accepted standard of care in your state.
- Grooming. Most pet insurance doesn't cover things like baths, dips, shampoos, or nail trims.
- Food, diet, and nutritional supplements. Most plans don't pay for your pet's food, but some do cover prescription food and supplements.
- Non-veterinary costs. This includes costs for waste disposal, record access or copying, any license or certification, and compliance to a government rule or regulation (such as a dog license).
Does Pet Insurance Cover Pet Liability?
What happens if someone gets bitten by your dog or if it damages someone else's property? These kinds of occurrences are typically covered by your homeowners insurance policy. For instance, your house insurance's liability coverage would typically cover medical costs and even a legal defense if your dog bites someone and you are sued.
Your pet insurance company might be able to help you protect yourself from liability. For example, some policies cover up to $25,000 in damage to property that was caused by a pet.
How Does Pet Insurance Work?
Most pet insurance policies are reimbursement-based, so you'll have to pay the vet fees up front before submitting a claim for reimbursement. You can take your pet to a licensed veterinarian of your choosing.
Here is an example of how a pet insurance claim would work:
1. Your pet (oh no!) has an ear infection, so you take him to the vet.
2. You are responsible for the cost of the vet visit.
3. After receiving the invoice and patient records from the veterinarian, you file a claim to the pet insurance company.
4. To determine whether or whether your claim is valid, your pet insurance provider will look over the policy. If the issue falls under the policy's purview, you can expect to get compensation from your insurer.
How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost?
1. The average monthly premium for accident and illness coverage for a dog with $5,000 of annual coverage, a $250 deductible, and a 90% reimbursement level is $35.
2. With unlimited annual coverage, a $250 deductible, and a 90% reimbursement level, the average monthly price for accident and illness insurance for a dog is $56.
Typically, the cost of pet insurance will depend on the following factors:
- The type, gender and breed of animal. Some breeds are more likely to get certain diseases, which will cause pet insurance rates to be higher. For instance, large dog breeds are more likely to have heart and hip problems and have higher medication costs.
- The pet’s age. As your pet gets older, it's more likely to need to go to the vet. This means that when it's time to renew your pet insurance, your rates will go up.
- Pre-existing conditions. Most pet insurance policies don't cover medical problems that existed before you bought the policy. But some pet insurance plans will cover conditions that were treated but come back later.
- Your location. The price of the plan will depend on how much vet care costs in your area on average.
- Coverage types. You'll pay more for a plan that covers accidents, illnesses, and regular health care than for one that only covers accidents.
- Deductible and reimbursement level. You’ll pay more for having a lower deductible and higher reimbursement level. For example, a plan that offers 90% reimbursement will cost more than the same plan with 70% reimbursement.
Most of the time, it costs more to insure a dog than a cat.
Is Pet Insurance Worth It?
Accidents and illnesses can leave you with expensive medical bills that you didn't plan for. This can force you to rack up credit card debt or use money from your savings.
Getting pet insurance can help cover some of these costs.
For example, if your dog chases a ball too hard and tears the ACL in their back leg, the surgery could cost you thousands of dollars in medical bills. If you had pet insurance with a $100 deductible and 90% reimbursement, a $3,000 surgery would only cost you $400 ($100 deductible plus 10% of the cost of the surgery).
Pet insurance can save you a lot of money if your pet gets hurt or sick, but it's also an expense you should think about. Over a 10-year period, you would pay $5,000 in pet insurance premiums if you paid an average of $500 per year for accident and illness coverage. Some pet owners might prefer to save money for their pet's medical needs in a savings account. If you can't save up thousands of dollars for your pet, pet insurance might be worth it as a way to avoid putting a big vet bill on your credit card.
So, how do I get insurance for my pet?
If you’re interested in buying pet insurance, we really like Pawlicy. We work with them because they care about their mission, have great prices, and are known for their customer service. You can look at the different pet insurance policies they have.
Alternatively, if you’d like to reach out to our pet insurance guru, click here. (wealth of knowledge over here!)
You may have questioned why pet insurance is such a huge deal. It is important since it safeguards you and your pet in the event of an emergency or accident. This is especially true if your pet is easily injured, frequently visits the veterinarian, or has a higher risk of developing a serious illness such as cancer. This might have a major impact on your finances. After the deductible, pet insurance may cover up to 80% of the remaining expenses.
It also helps you maintain a reasonable budget when you must pay for expenses such as veterinarian fees and prescription drugs. It gives you peace of mind and safeguards your family's emergency fund in the event of an emergency. There are a vast number of advantages. Take it from us, it's a good idea to look into it, and you’ll be glad you did!
I hope this information was helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out. I’d be happy to chat with you.
About the Author
Renee helps clients make sound financial decisions in her role as a Financial Planner at Vincere Wealth. Having a trusted advisor steer you toward wise choices now can have a major impact on your financial future. Renee is especially proud of her work educating and empowering women in the areas of personal finance, budgeting, and debt management.
If you're interested in an investment advisory or financial planning relationship, please consider Vincere Wealth Management.
Schedule a FREE 1:1 session here to connect with a #VincereWealth Advisor.