When it comes to taking out an insurance policy for a pet, a lot of first-time pet parents have second thoughts. This is because they think the expenses will be few and far between and can be handled out of pocket which brings us to the question, “is pet insurance worth it?”
Well, the simple answer is a resounding yes. And there are many reasons for it. In this post, we will answer some of the most asked questions on the topic that will not only tell you why it is worth it but also help you with the basics of pet insurance. Here we go.
Q: Why Is Pet Insurance Worth It?
A: Pets are like children. They are playful, they get carried away and are unable to always mind their surroundings. This can lead to a lot of minor and major incidents that will land you at the vet’s clinic.
If you’re wondering, “is pet insurance worth it” here’s the other thing to know about veterinary charges. They are not cheap. This varies from breed to breed, but typically, if you think you can spend from the pocket at will and be okay with it, you couldn’t be more wrong.
The most expensive vet costs are usually in the first year and they come with owning a cat or a dog. If you have a small dog, it is likely to be about $1,500 for a medium-sized dog that would be about $1,800 and for a large dog, it will be a little over $2,000. For a cat, the same would be about $1,200, according to CareCredit.
You end up visiting a vet for several reasons from basics like tick and flea control to tests and surgeries for serious illnesses. Here’s how much it is likely to cost.
- Grooming: $30-500 per annum
- Spaying: $100-200 (one time)
- Neutering: $50-100 (one time)
- Tick and Flea Control: $40 – $200 (yearly)
- Teeth Cleaning: $50-300
- Vaccines: $10-100
- Routine Check-Up: $45-55
- Allergy Tests: $80-300 (depending on skin or blood test)
And these are just the basics.
Q: What Are Some of the Unexpected Costs?
A: These occur when there is an accident or an injury. According to the American Pet Products Association, one in three pets is expected to need emergency vet care every year. And according to just one pet insurance company’s estimate, these costs can range from an average of $800 to $1,500.
This is, of course, subject to the pet parents’ location. Now, that’s a big expense and surveys have shown that only about 39 percent of American pet parents are prepared to handle the lower end of that range.
And even when you take preventive measures like getting your pets vaccinated, some of these are unavoidable. A lot of breeds have genetic dispositions like hip dysplasia, to name just one condition, which lands them in critical care every so often. Let’s not forget that preventive care also means regular vet visits for routine checkups.
Q: What Are the Costs of Pet Insurance Like?
A: This will perfectly answer any lingering doubts you have like “is pet insurance worth it”. The first thing about pet insurance is that cat insurance is cheaper than dog insurance by about 60 percent, especially for accidents and illnesses.
However, you will pay a monthly premium for both animals. That is usually in the $30-50 range and it offers a fair amount of coverage. But the package varies from one insurer to the other and depends on the other variables too.
You must also remember that coverage is expensive for older pets because they are likely to have more health issues. That’s why it is advised that you take out a policy while your pet is still young. In some cases, insurance is expensive for larger animals too. You might want to clarify that with your insurer before you get the policy.
Q: What Kind of Policies Can I Expect to Find?
A: Regardless of variables like your location and the age and breed of your pet, there are a few standard templates of pet insurance policies that you can find in the US.
The first and the most basic type of coverage is for accidents only. This includes incidents like poisonings and some illnesses. These policies come with an annual deductible and there is a limit on reimbursements per incident or illness.
Next up is the comprehensive coverage plan that is dubbed the accidents and illnesses policy. It comes with a lot more benefits but is also more expensive. Your pet will receive coverage for vet visits, prescriptions, tests, X-rays and such.
These policies have lower deductibles because the premium will be higher. There will likely be a limit per incident or illness along with another limit on total reimbursements for the term of the policy, which resets when the term ends.
The third one is often the one that covers preventive care and is dubbed wellness policy. This takes care of vaccinations, flea and tick prevention and physical examinations. Typically, these policies do not have a deductible.
You will also find some discounts if you are looking at services based on memberships. But otherwise, you will be paying a monthly premium and get a percentage of the vet bill reimbursed. The percentage, of course, depends on the type of policy to take out.
Q: What Do Pet Insurance Policies Typically Cover?
A: This depends on the type of policy you take and the terms and conditions that are determined after a medical examination of your pet. So, let’s take one example to see how this works. PetFirst insurance covers:
The vet costs if your cat or dog gets sick or injured. Their coverage is flexible and they also offer lifetime benefits. This includes accidents and illnesses that cover chronic, hereditary and congenital diseases, which is not the case with all insurers.
And it is a blessing because these tend to last a long time and can get expensive over time. If your pet needs to be hospitalized or requires diagnostic testing or prescription medications, that will be taken care of too.
And if it is not a pre-existing condition as defined by the insurer, there are many plans that offer coverage for both diagnosis and the treatment that ensues.
Q: What Do Pet Insurance Policies Typically Exclude?
A: Unfortunately, this one is a long list and it includes a few things that your pet will inevitably encounter in its lifetime. So, let’s take a good look at it.
There is almost no pet insurance company that covers pre-existing conditions. But the definition of this term is not universal. Typically, a pre-existing condition means a health problem that has already been diagnosed before the policy kicked in.
But some insurers add ifs and buts to that. Some consider conditions that were diagnosed during the waiting period—after the policy is taken out but before it kicks in, which is usually 10 to 30 days—to also be pre-existing.
Some insurers have a specific amount of time and if any condition arises during that time, they are considered pre-existing.
Sometimes these conditions are small (although not minor) like allergies and sometimes they are lethal like cancer. Pre-existing conditions can also include injuries on one side of the body, like a ligament issue. This means an injury of the same nature on the other side of the body will not be covered by the policy.
Hereditary and genetic conditions are also often excluded because of the odds being stacked against the insurer. They can also last a long time which is not a profitable deal for the company.
If your pet is too young or too old, the insurer might not have a policy for them. Even those that do offer coverage have very high premiums because these pets are likely to get sick more often or more intensely.
Certain preventive care measures like vaccinations, spaying and neutering procedures are also not covered by insurance companies. You can also go ahead and add pregnancy and childbirth to that list.
Also, be aware that dental coverage is also often not part of any of the policies that most pet insurers offer. It might help to remember that many insurers also don’t cover alternate therapies. Those companies that do, sometimes offer special policies and might be a bit more expensive than the other choices.
Q: Why Is Spaying and Neutering My Pet Important?
A: This seems like an obvious one but it is a valid question if you have never had a pet. When you get your pet sterilized, you obviously keep them from having unwanted babies.
This helps prevent the euthanizing of many dogs and cats that happens on a yearly basis. But these procedures also help prevent behavioral issues that come from the mating instincts that animals inherently have.
Cats and dogs have heat cycles that cause behavioral changes that lead to frustration and lead them to throw temper tantrums. This can be avoided by removing their ovaries. And neutering the males reduces their instinct to breed which keeps them inclined to stay at home instead of roaming around looking for a mate.