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Good news, if you are reading this it means your pet, be it dog, cat, bird, lizard, or what have you, is an important member of your family and means a great deal to you and your kids, so buying pet insurance is one way to protect yourself.
You are not alone, there are more than 2 million pet members of families in America that are cared for and protected with pet insurance according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association.
If you are worried that pet insurance will be as complicated as the current US healthcare system, don’t be. We will break it down in an easy way to understand so you can determine if insurance is right and how to get the right type of coverage for your pet. This is everything you need to know when buying pet insurance:
What is Pet Insurance and How Does it Work?
First, pet insurance is much simpler than your personal health insurance and it is much easier to determine if and what kind of coverage is necessary. Buying pet insurance is a way to save on veterinary costs when your pet gets sick or is injured.
Consider Two Scenarios
- With Pet Insurance: You pay a premium every month to secure coverage if an accident or illness occurs. Your insurer will fully or partially reimburse your payments.
- Without Pet Insurance: You pay all vet bills out of pocket in full for all medical treatments and emergencies.
If you can afford a surprise vet bill of a few thousand dollars or more and won’t be set back financially, then coverage might not be necessary. However, if having coverage and knowing an insurance company will help you pay the bill should anything bad happen is something that helps you sleep better at night, then buying pet insurance is worth considering.
Four Main Components of Pet Insurance
1. Monthly premium: The payment made each month to maintain the insurance coverage for your pet.
2. Deductible: The amount you will pay before the insurance company pays.
3. Reimbursement level: The amount paid by the insurance company after you pay the deductible. It is usually between 50 and 100 percent.
4. Annual maximum: The maximum out of pocket expense you will have for the year.
What Pet Insurance Covers
Pet insurance helps you save on veterinary costs when your pet gets sick or is injured.
What Pet Insurance Doesn’t Cover
Unless you select it beforehand, most pet insurance plans don’t cover the following:
- Routine check-ups
- Preventative care
- Dental disease
The Cost of Pet Insurance
Fortunately, it is relatively inexpensive when you compare it to health insurance for pet owners. Your premiums will vary depending on how much coverage and the type you choose.
Here are a couple of rough averages to give you an idea of what to expect for dogs and cats. For dogs, you can expect to pay around $535 per year which is about $44 per month. Cats are a little less to insure annual premiums are about $335 which comes in around $28 per month.
Factors That Affect Your Pet Insurance Costs
Your choice of coverage and deductible will have a direct controllable effect on the cost of your premium. These factors that affect the cost are harder to control: species, breed, age, and location.
Dogs tend to cost more to insure than cats, with male dogs being the most expensive and female cats the least. Larger pets usually cost more to insure because they tend to have shorter life spans and are more susceptible to health issues. Younger pets are more inexpensive to insure, as they usually have fewer health issues if any in the early years.
Premiums, like all other kinds of insurance, vary according to state and zip code because more densely populated areas carry higher insurance risks for insurance companies which translates to higher costs.
How to Choose the Right Plan and Coverage
Hint: skip on “wellness” coverage. Here are some more tips to help you choose the right pet insurance plan and coverage:
- Focus on buying pet insurance that broadly covers accidents and illnesses. Make sure it includes injuries like fractured legs and illnesses like bronchitis. Find a pet insurance company that will cover chronic conditions like diabetes or hypothyroidism, congenital conditions, birth defects, and hereditary conditions, genetic disorders.
- Make sure it covers cancer treatments. Since the true value of insurance lies in its capacity to make expensive treatments for life-threatening illnesses affordable, focus on making your goal to find a policy that covers cancer treatment.
- Look for lab and blood work coverage, too. The top insurance companies will also cover lab tests and blood work, as well as surgery and prescription medications. Most also cover x-rays and other imaging services, as well as rehabilitation services, like after a broken bone. Animal hospitals are more expensive than a veterinary office, just like an ER compared to a doctor’s office. Only consider policies that cover emergency visits.
Should You Purchase Pet Insurance?
If your pet is an important member of your family, make sure they will be taken care of should any unforeseen accident or illness happens. This is the purpose of buying pet insurance. At the same time, you are also protecting yourself from a surprise bill from the vet of thousands of dollars. They protect and nurture you, so why shouldn’t you do the same for your pets?
Your pet’s specific needs are unique, look for a plan that fits your situation. Compare coverage options and get quotes from these pet insurers. They all offer free quotes. Here are four insurance companies that specialize in pet insurance: