Cat Insurance 101: What to Get and How to Get Started
There is a lot more than curiosity that can kill the cat. But if you are well prepared for an emergency, you only need to worry about treatment. Otherwise, you will also be worrying about your bank balance and that’s completely avoidable. How? Cat health insurance. And here’s all you need to know about it.
How Much Will Cat Insurance Cost You?
If you are looking at the average monthly cost, you are lucky to have a cat instead of a dog because it is cheaper. Compared to the $48 that is the average for dogs, cat insurance is only approximately $29. This covers both accidents and illnesses.
This is a rough estimate and the specifics vary from state to state, based on your location, the insurer you choose and the plan you opt for. But if you look at the quotes from the 10 largest pet insurance companies in the US, you will notice that the cat insurance policies range from $10 to $40 a month.
Following the same parameters, the average monthly premium from these 10 insurers tells us that the average is about $20.99. As a cat parent, you will be looking at a $500 deductible, 80 percent reimbursement and a $5,000 annual max.
For instance, if you have a four-year-old cat of a medium-risk breed, you are likely to end up paying about $10 to $15 every month when you pick an affordable pet insurer. If you want extra coverage possibly because your cat’s breed is more prone to injuries, the amount you will be paying goes up to about $30 to $35.
Speaking of breeds, it is true that insuring different breeds of cats means different pricing, just like it is with dogs. This is what the monthly cat insurance premium looks like for the five most common breeds.
- British Shorthair: $20.76
- Persian: $19.17
- Maine Coon: $17.57
- Ragdoll: $17.57
- Exotic: $12.78
Is Pet Insurance the One for Cat Owners?
Now, if you are wondering if pet insurance (not cat insurance exclusively) is even worth it, take a look at how much the treatments cost if you don’t have insurance. You can calculate it based on the top 10 illnesses these pets suffer from.
Data suggests that the most common problems that cats face cost about $266 on average for treatment. And unlike insurance, this is slightly cheaper if you have a dog which comes up to $252.
According to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association, these are the most common conditions among cats and this is how much it costs to treat them without insurance.
- Renal Failure: $485.38
- Upset Stomach: $385.46
- Urinary Tract Condition: $295.18
- Diabetes: $276.39
- Allergies: $234.84
- Upper Respiratory Infections (URI): $219.27
- Hyperthyroidism: $215.75
- Diarrhea: $203.14
- Colitis: $203.14
- Ear Infections: $149.30
Now, if you look at these costs and compare them with the yearly insurance payments, you might notice that out-of-pocket payments are less expensive. So, what is the point of getting insurance?
Well, a cat insurance policy is beneficial for those times when you are going for the less common treatments that are more expensive. This includes situations ranging from a broken limb to cancer. During those times, you will find pet insurance to be a boon.
About Pre-Existing Conditions
Pet insurers have strict guidelines about pre-existing conditions which will be evaluated before the policy is put in place. Typically, they categorize them into curable conditions and incurable ones.
If your pet has a curable condition, some companies offer insurance cover as long as there is a gap of 12 months between two incidents. And some companies like the ASPCA don’t even consider a condition to be pre-existing if it is curable and if your pet hasn’t shown any symptoms for 180 days.
This, of course, does not include ligament and knee problems. And when the curable condition starts to surface after 180 days, the ASPCA considers it to be a new medical issue.
These are some pre-existing conditions that are curable.
- Ear infections
- Bladder infections
- Respiratory infections
Pre-existing conditions that pet insurers typically deem to be incurable are:
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- Urinary blockages
- Bladder crystals
- Hip dysplasia
- Arthritis (and orthopedic conditions)
These are conditions that will take you to the vet multiple times. You will need to get your pet on medication and some of these conditions will even require surgery. That’s considered a liability by insurers so they don’t cover incurable pre-existing conditions.
What Is the Best Cat Health Insurance?
Now, once you have a basic idea of what it means to have pet insurance, let’s look at some of the best-known insurers and what they offer.
Best Overall: Pet Assure
This one is well known for its flexibility in the way it accommodates all kinds of pets. You have the advantage of low monthly costs, no deductibles or annual limits to worry about, no waiting periods and also covers some pre-existing conditions. And by the way, you also get coverage for all types of pets, not just cats.
But it is not without its downsides. They have a network of about 5,600 vets across the country and the insurance is limited to that network compared to others who cover the cost of treatment with any licensed vet.
The insurance covers only about 25 percent of the costs compared to other policies that reimburse 70 to 90 percent of the costs. And Pet Assure also does not cover prescription items.
The good news is that Pet Assure is not limited by insurance regulations which is why it can offer policies that are more flexible in terms of coverage limits, waiting periods and deductibles.
Their accidents and illnesses policy and also the preventive care option cover many treatments that other insurers don’t. The monthly premium for a single cat is about $6 which is a lot less than other insurers.
Best for Routine Care: PetFirst
Our second choice is the best if you are looking for routine care options and want benefits to be flexible based on average annual costs. The big advantage with PetFirst is that you get wellness benefits from $125 to $575 per annum.
The deductibles are just $250 and the day after you enroll for the policy, your accident coverage begins. These folks are also tech-savvy and have an online resource center which makes things easy for everyone.
The downside is that there is an individual limit on each preventive care element. There is a $10,000 annual limit on your accident and injury policy. And they don’t have the option of accident-only plans.
This is a good option for cats that have their vaccinations in place and you want to keep the bills from expensive treatments under control. But you can also get a rider added to the accident and illness plan and get reimbursed for vaccinations, flea preventives and checkups. And that’s what makes PetFirst really great for routine care.
Their wellness plans have five tiers and the annual benefits start at $125 and go all the way up to $575. But this is also with the individual limit on preventive care treatments. And if you did not use any of the benefits offered to you, remember that they don’t get carried over to the following year.
The accident and illness policies are also fairly reasonable with annual limits that are a little less than some others. The maximum that PetFirst offers is $10,000 per year. You can’t get an accident-only policy as mentioned earlier but you will have the advantage of a shorter waiting period compared to the competition if you get the accident and illness plan.
Best for Multiple Pets: ASPCA
This one is not just about coverage for cats and dogs. They also give you a 10 percent discount on each pet if you have more than one pet. It is perfect for families that have a mix of animals in their home.
If that’s the first advantage, you will also enjoy the fact that they are tech-savvy and have an app for your requirements and their policies are taken by any licensed vet in US and Canada. Just take a picture of the bill and upload it on their app.
The downside is that there are no unlimited benefits and the insurance is not administered directly by the ASPCA. It has paired up with Crum & Forster the insurance company and offers policies to cat and dog parents. There is also a per-treatment limit on the wellness benefits.
Now, you can choose from accident-only or accident and illness plans for your cat. You can also add a few wellness riders to your preventive care policy to cover certain conditions that suit the breed of your cat.
They don’t have unlimited plans but the annual benefits for accidents and illness are as high as $15,000 for both cats and dogs. If you want maximum coverage, you can also opt for an unlimited annual benefit.
About Pet Health Insurance for Cats
When you get pet insurance, it gives you a little room to relax because your cat will be covered for expensive treatments and save you the worry of vet bills when there is enough to worry about already.
This is basically like car insurance and as we have seen, there are many different factors that impact the annual costs. Factors like age and breed of the cat, your location and insurer will have a big impact on the monthly premiums, policy coverage and its riders when applicable and such.
Even so, you will be paying a deductible according to the parameters of your policy. But the rest or at least a portion of it will be taken care of by your insurer depending on the vet bill.
Just remember to talk to an agent before you choose and get the policy because the specifics are quite different for cats and dogs (and any other pets if applicable). Let them tell you about the clauses in the policy and also about the process of the insurer.
Cat insurance in particular is a very helpful thing because the bills can pile up quite easily if your little guy has a chronic condition. The treatment and consequent care can become quite the burden financially regardless of your bank balance.
Getting pet insurance from a company that offers cat insurance is a smart, long-term financial decision with a medical edge. It is like an investment for those difficult days when your cat is in trouble.
We can’t imagine going through life in these tricky times without health insurance, right? The same is true for your cat too. And luckily, pet insurance is popular enough for you to have a ton of choices in terms of policies and the flexibility of benefits. Be smart and make use of it… NOW!
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