Like most pet owners, I consider my cat, Scout, to be a member of the family and would gladly spend whatever it takes to get her the best medical care possible. This is why I made the decision to get pet insurance several years ago and it was one of the smartest decisions I’ve made when it comes to pet care. A survey by the Associated Press showed that approximately 41% of pet parents worry that they might not be able to afford medical bills for their pet. This begs the question … is pet insurance the answer?
The response depends on many factors. Purchasing pet insurance is both an emotional and financial decision. The purpose of pet insurance is to shield owners from steep vet bills when their pets gets injured or sick. When making the decision about whether or not to get pet insurance, there are a few questions to contemplate. How much would you be prepared to pay if your pet had a medical emergency, how much could you afford to pay and how much resilience do you have for risk?
The cost for a routine check-up might not break the bank, but more serious health problems, tests, surgeries and medications do add up! So I say, if you wouldn’t be able to afford a major medical procedure and you don’t want this to be a factor in deciding your pet’s fate- get the insurance. After pretty extensive research, I found that the average cost for a plan with pretty decent coverage is around $50 per month. I pay a bit more, but I have a “senior citizen” kitty and like with insurance for humans, the older you are, the higher the premium. You’ll get the lowest price if you buy when your furry friend is young.
Pet insurance works differently than our health insurance. Typically companies that cover humans pay for medical expenses up front, whereas pet insurance companies require you to pay medical bills and then submit a claim for reimbursement. My advice would be to do your research and really pore over the details of each plan and read the fine print of the policy. I also suggest asking the company as many questions as you can so that you know what's covered (and what's not).
Some key questions to ask:
1.) Is there a physical exam required to get coverage?
2.) Is there a waiting period?
3.) What percentage of the bill do they pay — after the deductible?
4.) Are payments capped in any way?
5.) Are there co-pays?
6.) Does the plan cover pre-existing conditions?
7.) What about chronic or recurring medical problems?
8.) Can you choose any vet or animal hospital?
9.) Are prescription drugs covered?
10.) Are you covered if you travel with your pet?
11.) Does the policy pay if your pet is being treated and dies?
If you’re in the market for pet insurance, Investopedia has a great breakdown of the nine best insurance plans of 2020. You should have an idea of exactly what you want the plan to cover. You should also consider your pet’s genetic and medical history when selecting a plan. If you have a dog breed, for example, that is prone to certain conditions you should keep this in mind and look for a plan that covers hereditary illnesses. Does your pet have an issue that might reemerge? Find a plan that covers pre-existing conditions. If you’re unclear about what plan to get, I would suggest consulting with your veterinarian to get their opinion.
With pets living longer these days, your chances of using pet insurance are higher than ever. At the end of the day, if you purchase pet insurance and don’t use it, consider yourself blessed!