Pet Insurance: Is It Worth the Cost?

February 28, 2017

In the modern world, medical costs for pets are not far from the medical costs for humans. This has led to an increase in the popularity of pet health insurance, and some companies even offer it as an optional choice in their benefits package. At the end of 2014, roughly 1.4 million pets across the United States and Canada were insured. However, this number constitutes a fractional percent of all pets. 

While most companies offering pet insurance only cover cats and dogs, one company does include some reptiles and birds as well as small pets such as rabbits. Pet plans come with a monthly premium per pet, which is steep for some budgets. This leaves people wondering if pet insurance is worth it. 

How Pet Insurance Works
The main difference between human and pet health insurance is how people pay. With pet health coverage, the policyholder typically pays for the vet bill upfront and is then reimbursed for expenses. People who buy pet coverage expecting to pay a small co-payment or be billed later will be disappointed. Only one insurer offers a plan that pays the vet directly. 

Costs also vary between pets and different breeds. For example, a purebred German Shepherd would cost more than a mixed-breed dog to insure because of the higher risk of hereditary problems associated with the breed. Age is also a factor for cost. If a pet has a lot of claims, premiums may go up. 

Plans come with deductibles that must be met before reimbursements are issued. Reimbursement costs may not always be based on what a specific vet charges. Most companies use an average cost for a specific area to base their reimbursement rate on. There are also annual maximums for reimbursement with most plans, which start around $5,000 and reach up to about $15,000. 

What The Plans Cover
Preexisting conditions are typically excluded. Most insurers offer plans for accidents or accidents along with illnesses. An example of an accident is a dog being hit by a car. Illnesses include cancer, kidney disease and other conditions that do not develop because of an injury or accident. Accident coverage is ideal for healthy pets, and illness coverage is important to include for aging pets, purebreds and pets with other health issues.

Is Pet Insurance Worth The Cost?
For some pet owners, health coverage may not be worth the cost. As it is with many things, going without insurance is a gamble. If a pet winds up being healthy throughout its life, the owner may never need coverage despite paying for it. One accident every few years may be cheaper to pay for out of pocket in comparison with shelling out a monthly premium. 

However, if a pet develops cancer and needs treatment, the costly treatments are covered under illness insurance. In this case, insurance often pays out more than the policyholder pays for the premiums, which makes coverage a smart investment. Accident coverage is also worthwhile if there is an accident that leaves a pet hospitalized, requiring surgery or requiring extensive care.

Other Ways To Save On Medical Costs
Insurers understand that not all people can afford pet insurance even if they want it. These are a few extra tips for keeping pets healthy:

  • Use flea treatments and parasite prevention methods.
  • Keep pets up-to-date on all required vaccines.
  • Spay or neuter pets at free or low-cost clinics to help prevent several types of cancer.

To learn more about pet insurance, speak with an agent.

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