Per Consumer Goods & FMCG 2020 statistics, 63.4 million Americans own dogs, with cats in second place at nearly 43 million. Owners spend an average of $566 on veterinary expenses each year keeping their furry friends healthy (March 24, 2020 report). Annual healthcare spending for pets now exceeds expenditures for people. With costs for some of the most common cat and dog health problems, such as dental disease, allergies, arthritis, and skin disorders reaching as high as $1100 per visit, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) “endorses the concept of pet health insurance that provides coverage to help defray the cost of veterinary medical care.”
There is no one-size-fits all solution. Consumers should consider the age and breed of their pet as well as pre-existing health conditions. Plans often have significant differences in deductibles, annual limits, reimbursement percentages, and levels of coverage. There may be add-ons for additional coverage’s, such as cancer or prescription medications, which can help save a pet owner tens of thousands in potential expenses. California based insurance provider Pawlicy Advisor For Veterinary Practices notes that “pet owners consider vets the primary authority on their pet’s health.”
In the crowded market of pet insurance providers, what is a pet parent to do? The AMVA recommends that pet owners have a conversation with their vet to discuss what options are available in their area, which plans they accept, and most importantly, how any potential insurance could provide the greatest potential benefit. Most importantly, pet insurance should require a relationship between the client and veterinarian, allow for choice in care, not interfere with a vet’s fee structures, comply with state laws, maintain consistency with the “Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics,” and provide clear explanations of policy limits, pricing structure, and optional coverages.
There seems to be some consensus from veterinarians and the industry as to coverages best aligned to specific needs. Healthy Paws and Nationwide maintain top ratings with no maximum payments, low monthly premiums, broad geographic coverage, and fast claim processing. For those wishing to stick with routine care PetFirst receives top marks while Embrace Pet Insurance emphasizes its “total protection” which includes emergency care. The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) expanded its non profit to include consumer pet insurance which includes a 10% discount for multiple pets. Those with geriatric canine companions are encouraged to explore PetsBest with no age limitations while Petplan provides plans for enfeebled felines. Those whose pets walk on eight legs or have no legs at all should consider Pet Assure.
Whereas most pet insurance companies limit policies to cats and dogs, PetAssure provides an alternative for those with “every other member of the animal kingdom.”
Just as health insurance for humans comes in every variety and there are serious considerations to make the most of a policy, the same is true for our furry, or not so furry friends. Costs. Benefits. Maximums. Exclusions. The infinite varieties that make each of our pets, and their veterinary care is unique. For difficult medical decisions, we are advised to first consult with our own doctor. When it comes to pet insurance, you and your veterinarian know your pet best!