Is Pet Insurance Worth It?
Any pet parent's worst nightmare is a health emergency for their pet. A pet owner does what they can to keep their pets safe and healthy, but things can and do happen. For example, they eat something they shouldn't, like a whole chocolate cake or a bumblebee or a sock or a houseplant. (Toxin ingestion is the second-most common reason for an emergency trip to the vet.) Pet insurance gives you peace of mind that when the unexpected does happen, you'll be prepared to cover the cost of whatever your pet's care entails.
If you decide to insure your pet, your pet will be in great company. According to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association, the total number of insured pets in the U.S. grew by 23.2% in 2020 alone. There are more than 3 million insured pets in the country, with dogs making up the majority.
So, the short answer to the question "is pet health insurance worth it?" is a resounding yes.
Let's be honest...pet care can get pricey.
Now, for the long answer. Emergency veterinary care or treating chronic conditions in dogs and cats can get expensive...But just how expensive can the veterinary bill get? The average cost of vet care can get expensive, especially for an older pet. It is important for pet owners to know what to expect with an aging dog or cat.
The American Pet Products Association National Pet Owners Survey revealed American pet parents are spending hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars on their best friend's medical care. Surgical vet visits for dogs cost an average of $458 and $201 for cats—and may be a lot more expensive in more serious cases. Many pet owners will face the need to pay the average cost to spay a dog or cat. LendEDU survey found 45% of pet parents will spend more on their pet's health care than their own—and 20% have gone into debt because of their pet's medical expenses.
Encouragingly, the LendEDU survey also found that, although only 39% of respondents have pet insurance, 77% say it has been helpful in emergency situations and 88% say it's worth it.
Here's what to consider when shopping for pet insurance.
How does pet insurance work, and what does pet insurance cover? The world of pet insurance is huge, with countless pet insurance company providers all claiming they offer the best coverage for veterinary treatment. Yet, there's no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to an insurance provider; what works for your friend and her cat might not work for you and your dog. These questions are important to ask before committing to a plan (and don't be afraid to get a few different quotes to compare!).
- What's your budget for monthly premiums? The average monthly premium for pet insurance cost for dogs hovers around $25 - $70. For cats, the cost is around $10 - $40. Your pet's age, species, breed, and where you live can all impact the amount you pay for pet insurance.
- What's the deductible? The deductible is the amount of money you pay before the insurance kicks in. There are lifetime per incident deductibles, which are good for chronic conditions, such as arthritis, because you pay the deductible once in the pet's lifetime. There are also annual deductibles, which is good for if your pet goes to the vet several times per year for a variety of reasons—you'll only pay a certain amount per year. Generally, the higher your deductible, the lower your monthly premium is.
- What kind of plan do you need? There are a few different types of plans to choose from for your pet insurance policy, including accident and illness coverage and accident-only coverage. Accidents are things like toxin ingestion or traumatic injury, whereas illness includes things like hypothyroidism or ear infections. Additionally, you may find plans that offer general wellness plans for a fee—which cover things like routine checkups and preventative care. It's wise to look into these categories to see what your pet insurance covers:
- Hereditary conditions
- Prescription medications
- Cancer treatments
- Diagnostic testing
- What isn't covered by your pet insurance plan? Typically, pet insurance does not cover pre-existing conditions. So, if your pet is already diagnosed with hip dysplasia in their pet health record, pet insurance won't cover routine care for it moving forward. Dental care for pets can be tricky, too. Some plans only cover dental accidents (like broken teeth) but not dental diseases (like gingivitis). Similarly, if your pet already has gum disease—which is very common among cats and dogs—this will be considered a pre-existing condition in the eyes of most insurance companies.
So Should You Get Pet Insurance?
Pet insurance is very useful for pet owners but is important that pet owners do research the find the best pet insurance provider that offers comprehensive coverage.