Think about the most important items in your life — both physical and intangible. Chances are, while running through your list, you’ve envisioned high-ticket items such as your car and your home. You’ve also likely thought of your family, as well as your health.
Some items are too valuable to risk, which is why we carry insurance to provide protection in the event of an emergency. While most people have coverage on expensive commodities that are hard to replace, there’s often a treasured item that gets left out of the equation: our pets.
Of course, Scruffy is part of your family, and you’d be lost without his wagging tail greeting you when you walk through the door. Still, you have your own health insurance, and perhaps even coverage for a spouse and children. So, why are pet owners allowing pet insurance to fall by the wayside?
For one, we have a lot of expenses, and the idea of adding another monthly payment can be daunting. On top of the price tag, the work of researching and dissecting convoluted policies is utterly time consuming. While you love your pet and will happily provide routine care, pet insurance may seem too overwhelming to understand or expensive to consider.
If you’re on the fence about whether or not you should have insurance for your furbaby, here are the ins and outs of pet insurance to help you decide if it’s a worthwhile choice.
What to Know Before You Buy?
When reviewing any insurance policy, it’s crucial to read the fine print. Like health insurance for humans, policies vary depending upon the company through which you are obtaining coverage. However, unlike your health insurance, pet insurance does not have standard tiers to determine costs such as co-payments and out-of-pocket expenses. This means it’s up to you to do the research on what the policy covers, and what limitations or exceptions may apply.
Commonly, pet insurance is praised for its coverage during unexpected emergencies, such as an accident involving an animal. However, routine care such as checkups and vaccines are most often not covered by pet insurance, meaning the pet owner would be left footing the bill for the majority of veterinary visits.
Policies also factor in your pet’s age, pre-existing medical conditions, and inherited genetic disorders among certain breeds. This means your pet’s premium will likely increase each year as he gets older, and may be more inclined to need care. It also means there’s an exclusion for common disorders such as diabetes or urinary tract diseases often found in cats, or certain congenital diseases associated with particular dog breeds. These conditions may include breathing problems, hip dysplasia, or dental issues.
What Does Pet Insurance Cover?
With so many exceptions, including waiting periods on many policies, you may be left wondering what exactly is covered by pet insurance. Essentially, you can count on your plan to cover accidents and illnesses, which can range anywhere from an infection to the development of a chronic disease. Still, even if your insurance policy does agree to foot the bill for treatment, you may be required to first meet a deductible.
Like with human health insurance, a deductible means an amount you must first pay toward a claim before your insurance company begins issuing payment. The amount of the deductible, if applicable, will vary between plans. This is why it is crucial to fully understand your pet’s coverage before hopping on a plan.
For additional coverage, it is possible to apply for add-on policies to your existing plan. These add-ons can include anything from health and wellness coverage that would cover routine care, or an accident-only policy for older pets who may not qualify for coverage under standard plans.
The Bottom Line
As is the case with all insurance policies, it’s important to understand the coverage offered from your pet’s plan in order to determine whether it’s right for your personal situation. You’ll benefit from reviewing a variety of policies to better understand common exceptions to coverage, as well as to compare plans. While coverage can be costly, pet insurance is a solid choice for those who are otherwise unable to pay out-of-pocket costs in the event of a pet-related emergency.
On the other hand, those with younger pets or pets who remain indoors, pet insurance may not be worthwhile throughout the early years of an animal’s life. According to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association, most pet owners can expect to pay in the neighborhood of $30 to $50 per month for coverage. For those who deem their pets to be low risk for accidents or illness, it may be beneficial to instead put the funds in a separate account to be drawn upon in the event of an unexpected emergency rather than to outwardly pay for pet insurance coverage each month.
Ultimately, the overall goal is to keep your pet healthy and safe. Pet insurance may help your peace of mind when it comes to caring for your beloved pet, or you may decide delegating a certain amount of your budget is the more practical route for your family. Like any insurance policy, doing your homework and knowing the details of your coverage will help you make the most sound decision in terms of whether or not to purchase a pet insurance plan.
Also Read: Pet Wellness vs. Pet Insurance