Do I Need Pet Insurance?
Wondering if you need pet insurance? This article will help you decide whether this type of coverage is worth it for you and your furry friend.
June 17, 2022
Owning a pet comes with a lot of responsibilities, one of which is ensuring they remain in good health. Indeed, pet owners can expect to spend an average of $800 to $1,500 on an unexpected trip to the vet emergency room. If your pet needs surgery, the costs can run into thousands of dollars.
Not every pet owner, of course, will be able to afford these hefty costs. Without funds, you may be left facing the agonizing reality of having to compromise on your pet’s health and even life.
This is where pet insurance comes in. If your bundle of fur was to unexpectedly be diagnosed with a serious illness or suffer from a serious injury, pet insurance can help cover the costs.
Below, we'll give you some insight about pet insurance to help you judge whether it's something that you and your pet need.
What is Pet Insurance and How Does it Work?
Pet insurance is a type of insurance coverage designed to help protect pet owners from unexpected costs or expenses related to their pet's care, such as veterinary treatment. You sign up for a policy with specific coverage and then pay a monthly premium for it.
There are commonalities between health insurance for people and pet insurance.
Deductibles are amounts you must meet before coverage begins. Depending on the type of coverage, deductibles can range from $100 to $1,000. Typically, the lower your deductible, the higher your monthly premiums.
The reimbursement rate is a measure of the amount your insurer will pay out towards an incident/expense after you have paid your deductible. Most policies have a reimbursement rate that ranges from 70% to 90%.
Pay-out limits, the maximum that your insurer will pay towards eligible costs or expenses, are set by some pet insurance policies. The limit can be set on a per-year, per-lifetime, or per-body system basis.
It's also worth noting that most pet insurance policies work on a reimbursement basis. This means you pay the bill up front and then submit it to your insurance company for reimbursement.
What does Pet Insurance Cover?
Pet insurance policies can vary in terms of what they cover. For example, you can buy a comprehensive pet insurance policy that covers the following:
Injuries and accidents.
Illnesses (including chronic and recurring conditions like allergies and arthritis, and serious illnesses like cancer and heart disease).
Surgery, hospitalization, and specialist care.
Emergency exam fees.
Diagnostic and imaging tests such as MRIs and X-rays.
Wellness procedures such as vaccinations and spay/neuter.
Holistic treatments such as acupuncture and chiropractic.
If you are not interested in a pet insurance policy that provides such broad coverage, or if you simply can’t afford one, you can choose something less comprehensive that meets your needs and budget.
You can opt for an accident-only policy that covers emergency care if your pet is hit by a car or accidentally swallows a toy, for example, or an accident and illness policy that covers both accidents and illnesses.
Many insurers will usually allow you to add a wellness add-on (which will reimburse you for preventive and routine care) to either of these plans.
What is Not Covered?
Generally, most pet insurance policies will not cover:
Pre-existing or hereditary conditions
Cosmetic or elective surgeries or procedures
Routine dental work
Make sure to read the small print of your pet insurance policy before you sign it to avoid any costly surprises later on.
What Types of Companies Offer Pet Insurance?
Some of the top pet insurance providers in the US currently include:
You can visit these providers’ websites to learn more about the types of cover they are offering and possibly even get a quote.
Your local veterinarian's office may also be able to recommend reliable or reputable pet insurance providers.
When looking for a policy, make sure to compare several providers to increase your odds of getting the best policy for your needs. Pet insurance comparison websites, such as PetInsuranceInfo and Paw Policy, which allow you to compare coverage and quotes from various companies all from the same place, can help you with this.
How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost?
Average costs for accident and illness pet insurance according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA):
Dogs – $48.66 per month or $583.91 annually
Cats – $28.57 per month or $342.84 annually
For accident-only plans, the average costs are:
Dogs – $19.93 monthly or $293.11 annually
Cats – $10.85 monthly and $130.24 annually
These costs will, of course, vary depending on a variety of factors, such as the type and breed of pet, its age, and location.
Older pets, for example, are more likely than younger pets to require veterinary care, and their insurance costs will probably be higher.
Some pet breeds may also be more susceptible to certain illnesses, making coverage for them more expensive.
So, Do I Need Pet Insurance, Actually?
For many pet owners, the average monthly premiums of $30 to $50 are worth it to have peace of mind in case their furry friend ever becomes sick or gets injured.
There is, however, a possibility that you could pay your monthly premiums and ultimately end up never using your benefits, or the total cost of your premiums may end up not matching your actual veterinary expenses in the long run. That could translate to thousands of dollars going down the drain.
That is why, rather than paying for a pet insurance plan and possibly never seeing its benefits, some owners may choose to save a certain amount of money each month for any emergency treatments.
Ultimately, the question of “do I need pet insurance” is a personal one. Run the numbers, research your options, and make the decision that you believe is best for you and your pet.
Meanwhile, if you're struggling with your finances and, for example, need to pay off credit card debt before you can even consider adding another monthly expense like pet insurance to your budget, Tally† might be able to help. Tally consolidates your credit card balances into a low-interest line of credit, which can allow you to pay off your balances faster and save you money.
†To get the benefits of a Tally line of credit, you must qualify for and accept a Tally line of credit. Based on your credit history, the APR (which is the same as your interest rate) will be between 7.90% - 29.99% per year. The APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate. Annual fees range from $0 - $300.