We love our pets. Americans own an estimated 70 to 80 million dogs and 74-96 million cats, according to the ASPCA. Small wonder an estimated $62.75 billion was spent on pets in the U.S. in 2016. It’s estimated that $15.92 billion went to veterinary care during that same year, second only to food ($24.01 billion).
With so much money being spent on the health of our pets, it’s natural to consider purchasing pet insurance. But is it worth the expense? Emotionally, probably. And if your situation fits a certain set of circumstances, definitely.
What Pet Insurance Covers?
Every policy is different but generally pet insurance pays for the cost and treatment incurred by illness, accidental injury and routine visits to the vet. Reimbursement for medications, services and treatments vary per carrier. Like health insurance, pet coverage commonly has exclusions, such as pre-existing medical conditions. Certain breed-specific diseases may be excluded.
As far as how much you’ll pay out-of-pocket, pet insurance providers vary in how much is reimbursed. Some pay a percentage of covered costs while others pay according to maximum amounts per diagnosis.
How Much Coverage Costs?
Depending on several factors, including your pet’s age, breed and over all health, as well as the plan itself, a monthly payment can cost as little as $10 or as much as $50. Premiums are lower if you take on a higher deductible. It can also cost more for coverage if you live in a city where vet costs usually higher. Typically, you are responsible for the initial cost of a service or procedure and then must file a claim for reimbursement.
Factors to Consider
- Most plans are for dogs or cats. Some carriers also cover exotic animals, but the most common coverage is for dogs or cats. Being more active and likely to be outside more, dogs are at a bigger risk of injury or accident than cats. Plans are dogs are often more expensive than for cats.
- Premiums cost less for a younger pet. Some providers will cover a pet at any age, others won’t if the pet is 10 years or older. Premiums are lower for young and healthy pets. Some policies raise rates on a plan as the pet gets older.
- Some breeds have hereditary health issues. If the breed of your pet is prone to certain conditions, your premium may cost more. However, treatments can be expensive for these problems so owning a policy may be better in the long run.
- Could you pay for a big vet bill without coverage? If you have a high income, paying a few thousand for a pet’s surgery, for instance, may not be a problem for you. However, if that kind of unexpected cost would be a hardship for you, a small monthly premium might be the way to go.
The Bottom Line
Pet insurance can help you keep your pet healthier because you’re more likely to make routine visits to the vet. It can make a big difference if your pet has to have a costly procedure. Some who can’t afford the expense often ask to have their pet euthanized instead. If you don’t want to be in that position, pet insurance will give you peace of mind.
When you want to get coverage for your pet, shop around and compare coverage, exclusions and costs before making a final decision. Learn more about pet insurance and get free quotes to compare policies here.