What Is Pet Health Insurance?
Just like health insurance for humans, pet health insurance acts as a safety net for the ones you love. Of course you always want to keep your pets safe, happy, and healthy, but even the best pet parents in the world can’t prevent everything.
Accidents happen, unforeseen injuries or illnesses crop up, and great veterinary treatment can be expensive. It’s scary enough to worry about your pet’s health—you shouldn’t have to worry about financial strain as well. That’s where pet insurance comes in handy. A pet health insurance plan will help reimburse you for unexpected vet bills, which means you can focus on taking care of your furry family member.
Depending on your plan, pet insurance can cover everything from vaccinations and regular checkup fees to more serious ailments like diabetes, joint disorders, and cancer. Hopefully, you’ll never need it—but if you do, you’ll be glad it’s there.
How Does It Work?
First, you choose the best insurance company and plan for your pet. Each plan requires you to pay a premium (monthly, quarterly, annually, etc.) just like human insurance. To start comparing your options now, click here for consumer reviews of leading companies.
After that, there are generally three simple steps: treatment, claim, and reimbursement. If your pet incurs an unexpected injury or illness, you must take them to your local veterinarian to get treated immediately. Then you can file a claim with your insurance company, and get reimbursement for your veterinary expenses.
Unfortunately, most pet insurance companies do not cover congenital, hereditary, or other pre-existing conditions. If it’s a curable condition such as diarrhea or a bladder infection, there’s a good chance it will be covered—but incurable pre-existing conditions are not eligible for insurance.
How Much Money Will I Save?
There are two big factors: your pet and your insurance plan.
Let’s say you have a cute little Dachshund mix named Sandy. Assuming that Sandy has no pre-existing conditions, her monthly premium could cost anywhere from $15-$70* depending on how much coverage you want—the cheapest plans typically cover only checkup fees and have much lower annual coverage, whereas the most expensive plans cover serious illnesses and bigger vet bills.
Here’s an example of how it shakes out for an average $50/month plan (note: this is based on example plans from Nationwide, PetPlan, and ASPCA and may not be accurate for older, larger, or exotic pets):
- You Pay: about $50/month
- Annual Coverage: about $15,000. This is the maximum amount you can be reimbursed per year by your insurance company.
- Annual Deductible: $500. If your vet bill is $500 or lower, you have to pay for it. If it’s higher than $500, you can file a claim.
- Reimbursement Limit: 70%. After you file a claim, your insurance plan will reimburse you for up to 70% of the vet bill.
This example plan would cover Sandy’s unexpected injuries and illnesses, cancer treatments, MRIs/CAT Scans/ultrasounds, prescription medication, surgeries, and more!
Remember, there are lots of pet insurance companies out there and lots of plans to choose from. If you decide to get pet insurance, the best thing to do is research multiple companies, consider your budget, and pick the best plan for your pet’s specific needs.
Also, always read the fine print! Some insurance companies exclude older pets, and some cover only specific ailments. Make sure you know exactly what your limits are before you commit to a plan.
What Else Do I Need to Know?
Pet insurance is not the best option for everyone. If you do not have sufficient funds to pay your premium, pay your veterinary bills, and then wait for reimbursement, you might want to consider other options in case of a pet health emergency—such as creating a “Pet Health” savings account and setting aside a certain amount of money each month. And again, if your pet has an incurable pre-existing condition, it most likely will not be covered by your insurance plan.
However, if your pet is eligible, pet insurance can be a great investment for even the healthiest pets. The American Humane Association reports that out of the top 10 reasons for dog abandonment, #3 is cost of maintenance (#4 for cats). No pet should ever be abandoned or left untreated due to expense.
If something happens to your pet, they deserve the best veterinary treatment. We all want our four-legged friends to live full and happy lives. For many people, pet insurance helps make that possible!