As companions, friends, and family members, our pets mean the world to us. Yet at some point in their lives, most pets will get sick. And given the high cost of veterinary care, such illness can set your family’s budget back significantly..
This is where pet health insurance comes in. Just like health insurance for people, pet insurance requires you to pay a premium based on the amount of coverage and the pet’s age, breed, and overall health. A number of companies offer pet insurance, including Veterinary Pet Insurance Company, PetCare Pet Insurance, and Petshealth Care Plan. Each has a variety of plans and options, so you’ll want to read all the fine print and determine which policy — if any — is best for your and your pet.
Here are some of the pros and cons you’ll want to consider as you make your decision:
Save Money in Emergencies
The most important benefit of pet health insurance is that it can save you money, particularly when your pet is hit with a large, expensive health problem. With pets living longer than ever, and veterinary medicine getting more advanced and expensive, you’re likely to encounter high vet bills at some point in a pet’s life. All it takes is one emergency — such as a serious accident or a cancer diagnosis — to rack up thousands of dollars in vet bills. In these cases, having pet insurance can make it possible to treat your pet without using your savings or going into debt.
Plans that cover routine care, such as physical exams, shots, and flea treatments — even though they cost more upfront — are sometimes a better deal. You’ll want to look carefully at the types and frequency of routine care a plan covers, and compare the cost of the insurance with the fees your vet charges for this kind of care.
Some employers offer pet health insurance as a benefit for employees. If yours does, it makes it that much more appealing. Often these companies will subsidize the cost of the insurance, making it a better deal than if you were to go out and purchase it on your own.
Can Cost More Than It’s Worth
Like all insurance, pet health insurance is built around a model that assumes that more money will be paid in insurance premiums than will be paid out as benefits. This means that, in many cases, you’ll pay more in the long run without pet insurance than you would with it — particularly if your pet lives a long and healthy life with few problems. The decision to purchase pet insurance, therefore, must be based partly on your tolerance for risk.
Often, pet health insurance plans have limitations — not covering pre-existing conditions, hereditary defects, or older animals. Make sure you know all of the limitations before purchasing a policy, so you’re not surprised when the insurance doesn’t kick in like you hoped it would.
The typical pet insurance plan requires you to pay costs upfront and then file a claim to get reimbursed. Check with the insurance companies and your vet to see if this is the case with the policies you’re considering.
If you decide not to purchase pet health insurance, it’s a good idea to earmark some of your savings for vet bills and pet emergencies, since these expenses can add up quickly and strain the family budget. After all, you love your pet, and you’ll want to be able to support your pet no matter what health problems come along.