Pet owners spend about $24 billion dollars on vet bills annually, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. I think I’ve single-handedly financed about half of that amount in the two years that my dog, Rue, has been with us. She struggles with frequent allergies and other health issues that have kept us coming back to our vet almost on a monthly basis. Luckily, we love our vet and don’t mind the frequent visits, but the financial buildup has made me question whether we would have been better off having pet insurance…
What Is Pet Insurance?
You have insurance for your car, house, and self, but have you thought about insurance for your pet? Pet insurance is very similar to the health insurance you have for yourself and your family, but with an obvious animal focus. There are many different policies to choose from, and they all range in price and coverage options. Some policies cover routine vet visits completely, while some only cover extensive health issues like cancer treatments partially. You pay a monthly premium, like any other insurance, and you receive the coverage that is available in the package you picked.
Note: We realize this is a polarizing issue in the pet community, and our intention is not to push you in one direction or the other, but to provide a resource for answers to commonly asked pet insurance questions. Pet insurance isn’t for everyone. Ultimately, it is up to you whether to get insurance for your pet.
Does My Pet Need It?
If you’re a pet parent, you’ll find that there are two constants:
1) Your pet will always need some sort of veterinary care.
2) It isn’t cheap.
Having pet insurance makes difficult medical decisions, such as whether to undergo chemotherapy, more realistic because your insurance company would be taking on some of the cost. If you are concerned about how you will pay a vet bill if your pet gets hurt, you may want to opt for a plan that has a low monthly premium that will cover major medical events. You can typically choose any licensed veterinarian that you desire. Depending on the policy you choose, catastrophic events can sometimes be covered in full by your insurance company, which is extremely helpful for your budget.
Cost is a big negative, obviously. You are paying per month, regardless of if you visit the vet or not. Also, just like home and auto insurance policies, pet insurance policies are confusing. Comparing the different plans is complicated and often misleading. In depth research is necessary to find the plan that is right for you. They range in price depending on the level of coverage you desire. Some plans may require you to pay for the bill up front and then request reimbursement after. Pay attention to specific wording so that you do not get dropped from the policy if your pet develops a chronic condition. Getting your pet enrolled at a young age, before they show signs of chronic conditions is usually recommended.
So…Should I Get Pet Insurance?
That answer is different for every pet parent. If you are considering pet insurance, talk to your trusted veterinarian, other pet parents in your area, and do some research on the different options that exist.
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Some things to consider when researching pet insurance:
- Ask how they handle pre-existing conditions
- There are sometimes breed restrictions for different policies if they consider them high risk, find out if your breed makes the list
- There are sometimes multiple pet discounts
- Different add ons sometimes exist, like dental and travel insurance
- Find out how their reimbursement timeline works
Do you have insurance for your pet?
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