Have you ever had to pay a costly vet bill? Is your senior pet at the vet’s office so often that the entire staff knows his name? Or maybe you’ve just adopted a new pet. These are the times when a pet parent is most likely to consider getting pet insurance. But is pet insurance worth it, and what does pet insurance cover, exactly? Here are a few factors to look into when you’re deciding whether it’s feasible for your budget and worth the extra expense for the benefits you get.
Is Pet Insurance Worth It?
This first question is a loaded one; of course pet parents want the best pet health care available for their furry family members. Neil Gargis, Pet Insurance Expert at CanineJournal.com, puts it this way: “If you can afford to spend multiple thousands of dollars in a veterinary emergency, then no, you probably don’t need it. But if a costly, unexpected vet bill is going to drain your savings and is a life or death decision, then the minimal monthly payment is more than worth it.” As with insurance for people, you never know when you’re going to need it in an emergency situation. You can think of it as putting money aside each month so you have it when your furry family members have an unexpected illness or accident. If you don’t have a designated pet health fund on your own, then you might want to look into pet insurance.
Consider Your Pet’s Age
Pet insurance could be a good option whether you have a puppy or kitten or a senior pet. If you insure your pets while they are young, the premiums will probably be lower, and they’re much less likely to have preexisting conditions. This is important, because no pet insurance companies cover preexisting conditions. Young pups and kitties are also known to get into trouble, and will more than likely have an emergency from an accident.
But it can also be worth it to get insurance for older pets. As they age, cats and dogs can be more prone to illnesses, and these vet visits can be expensive. Be sure to check each policy’s restrictions, though, because some companies don’t offer coverage for animals over a certain age.
How Much Is Pet Insurance?
The cost of cat and dog medical insurance is dependent on the number of pets you want to include on a plan, their age and breed, where you live, the level of coverage and reimbursement you want, and the deductible and premiums you can afford. Because there are so many factors, it’s hard to figure out how much you’re looking at spending for the type of coverage you need without doing some research. The good news is that, just like car insurance, there are tools you can use to get quotes on each company’s website so that you can compare the costs. After entering basic information like the name, age and breed of your pet and your location, you’ll be able to see the available plans and costs. If there are no age restrictions, you’ll be able to click on different reimbursement percentages and deductibles to see how much the premium would go up or down. Remember that some companies only offer a set amount of coverage above a certain age.
What Does Pet Insurance Cover?
If you are on the fence about what you’re getting for your money, and you’re still left wondering, “Is pet insurance worth it?” the inclusion of a wellness plan might make the difference. Wellness care plans usually reimburse you for specific items like routine blood tests, microchipping, wellness exams, teeth cleaning, rabies shots, heartworm tests, deworming and flea and tick medications—up to a specific allowed dollar amount for each item per year. There might be only one option for routine care, or several tiers that cost different amounts. Some companies don’t offer this option, and others offer this pet health benefit for an extra monthly fee. Be sure to read through what is covered to see if this benefit is worth it for each pet you are insuring. You might decide that you want the wellness plan for a puppy, but maybe not for an older pet that’s already microchipped and has recently had all their annual shots.
Look at Your Budget
Go over your monthly budget, and see how much you can afford to pay for a monthly premium. If you can fit it into your budget, at least for the pet who would benefit most, it’s worth the peace of mind in case of illness or injury, or even for the wellness care option. Remember that all pet health insurance companies are different in terms of premium amounts. They can also be adjusted depending on the reimbursement percentage and deductible, so explore all your options before deciding if cat or dog medical insurance is worth it.
Gargis notes that the number one reason pet owners buy pet insurance is that they want to be able to make decisions about their pet’s health care without having to factor in the cost. Gargis notes seeing many cases where pet parents face an impossible situation of not being able to afford care after an unexpected pet health issue. “Oftentimes this can lead to what we call ‘economic euthanasia,’ which refers to an animal being put down due to the fact that their pet parents cannot afford the care it would require to get that animal healthy,” explains Gargis. “This is a choice that no pet parent, and no pet should ever have to face. Pet insurance can be there for you in times of need and can actually save your furry family member’s life.”
Nikki Naser, BeChewy Senior Editor
Instead of owning 30 cats, Nikki has an impressive collection of 30 cat-themed T-shirts, and just 4 pets—a ginger-haired senior cat, a senior Maine Coon, a middle-aged Choodle, and a young kitty who showed up one day on the back steps. A former Orlando resident, Nikki worked on several tourism publications before moving to South Beach. When she’s not stopping to take pics of community cats to post on Instagram, Nikki spends her time with the office pets at Chewy, writing for their BeChewy blog.