We adore our pets.
The enduring bond between animals and their humans can be traced as far back as 11,000 years and, some studies suggest, far longer than that. Our relationship with our furry friends (sorry goldfish owners) spanning millennia has evolved into something very profound, so much so that some pet owners refer to them as their ‘babies’ and shower them with all the comfort, love, and attention one would a human child.
They are our companions, protectors, friends, and in the case of law enforcement, the military, and search and rescue teams, our co-workers too. We will move heaven and earth for their unconditional love and mourn them like family members when they pass away. Like any loved one, their health and happiness is our number one priority so we buy them special shirts to relieve anxiety, structures to climb on, beds to sleep in, toys to play with, and the most scientifically well-balanced food we can afford.
There will come a time, however, that your fur baby will become sick or injured. It could be because of something they ate, an unforeseen accident, genetic predispositions, or the onset of age, to name a few. In some cases, the costs of veterinary care can be so prohibitive, that families can sometimes be left powerless to provide the care their pets so desperately need. Sometimes, potential pet owners are so eager to have an adorable dog or cat to call their own, that they overlook the financial realities that come with responsible pet ownership and can often face a grim reality when it’s too late.
In this blog, we will be exploring the advantages of purchasing pet insurance as the best, most cost-effective method of providing your beloved four-legged family member the lasting care they deserve and the peace of mind you need.
PETS ARE BIG BUSINESS
According to the American Pet Products Association, a non-profit organization that reports on pet product manufacturers, the revenue generated by all pet-related products and services in 2019 amounted to a staggering 95.7 billion dollars. To put that number in perspective, it is equivalent to roughly the entire GDP of Cuba. Of that, almost 30 billion was attributed to veterinary costs, which comprises routine care, surgical procedures, and pharmaceuticals. That impressive number not only indicates the pervasiveness of pets in modern society but just how much of a financial burden their owners are willing to shoulder to keep them out of harm’s way.
Assuming that cats and dogs make up a vast majority of the patients, a routine vet visit can run from about $50 to $75 on average. While that might seem manageable for most, there are a host of other exams and procedures essential for optimum pet care that can cause your bill to rise substantially. In the way that an inexpensive plane ticket can become bloated with endless upcharges and service fees, add-ons like vaccine boosters, fecal exams, blood work, heartworm tests, and any associated medication costs can be daunting for some.
Does your dog need a teeth cleaning?
Those can cost as much as $400 alone! If more specialized care is warranted, a visit to Dr. Doolittle can set you back as much as $250. According to the Animal Health Institute, you can expect to dish out as much as $14,000 to treat an animal with a serious illness. For young singles and lower-income families, that’s a deal breaker. Worse yet, the pet owner is faced with the dilemma of having to choose between their welfare, and that of their family, and the well-being of their pet; a decision pet-owners, understandably, dread to ever have to make.
Now that you’ve got a clearer picture regarding the financial burdens facing pet-owners and their medical costs, let’s get into why pet insurance should be top of mind.
THE PROS OF PET INSURANCE
Here’s a quick list of the many benefits pet insurance provides that not only curbs costs, but helps you in the long run to prepare for the unexpected.
- PICK THE VET OF YOUR CHOICE — When we humans are in need of treatment, our health care provider gives us a limited list of practitioners we are obligated to use. Not so, with pets. We are free to choose the services of any veterinarian we feel most comfortable with.
- A GREAT SECURITY NET — As touched upon earlier, you don’t want to put yourself in the type of financial straits that force you to sacrifice the life of your pet. It’s a decision you want to avoid at all costs. The good news is that not only do pet insurance plans offer many flexible payment plans, but, after your deductible, most plans reimburse as much as 80% of the incurred costs of treatment.
- HELPS TO BUDGET YOUR EXPENSES — Once you’ve done your shopping and settle on the most affordable insurance plan for your pet, you can easily integrate these costs with the rest of your living expenses so you’re never caught off guard when life presents you with unanticipated challenges.
The only question left to answer now is, What should you know before choosing the best insurance policy for your pet? Here are a few things to consider:
- DOES YOUR PET QUALIFY? — Compared with it’s human counterpart, qualifying for enrollment in a pet insurance plan comes with very little discrimination. You can get your kitten or puppy on a plan when they are as young as 6 weeks old and as old as 7 years, depending on the provider. Many will insure your pet for the duration of their lives while some plans will discontinue coverage between the ages of 10 and 14. The particular breed of your pet may have some bearing on the types of coverage they can receive based on health problems that may pop up specific to that breed. Understand, however, that in some instances, you will be required to show that your pet has seen a vet within the last year and/or undergo an exam that checks for any serious pre-existing condition that may disqualify your pet from enrolling in a policy.
- WHAT DOES THE PLAN COVER? — Pet insurance is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Depending on the plan and the nature of your pet’s injury or illness, some won’t cover your pet’s needs. For instance, there are accident-only policies which cover mishaps like car accidents or the ingestion of toxic materials. Find out if your plan includes continual treatment for pets should they develop a condition that needs to be cared for on a daily basis. Does your policy cover exam fees? How about basic maintenance like vaccinations, spaying and neutering? You may have to pay a little extra for some of these types of coverage. If that works in your budget, then great. If not, determine what some of these costs would set you back out of pocket and consider a policy that only covers big ticket items you wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise. Mixing and matching might be the right solution for you and your pet.
- PAYOUT LIMITS & DEDUCTIBLES — This is where you are going to want to do your due diligence and closely scrutinize the ‘fine print.’ Does the plan cap their payouts to a certain amount? If so, does the payout have an annual limit, or
does it apply over the life of your pet? Are deductibles also implemented on a per incident basis? The devil is in the details, so make sure any and all questions you have are answered to your complete satisfaction. These are the nuts and bolts of any insurance policy and deserve your undivided attention so there are no surprises down the road.
Take your time and research every potential carrier on the market with a solid track record. Find out the type of coverages they offer, what you’re responsible for, and a payment plan that makes sense. Don’t rush this process and be patient. The right plan will come along that’s sure to make you and your pet happy for a long, long time. Good luck!