Yes, you read me correctly, Pet Insurance! This has been a growing trend within the last 5-10 years, and some companies are even offering it as part of their benefits packages for their employees! When my pug was younger, I took him to the vet for his wellness check and vaccinations. I remember the doctor telling me that he was very healthy and such a good boy, and I really should consider pet insurance for him. I was interested at the time, but you know how it goes, you discuss 20 different things in a doctor’s appointment, and by the time we went home I had already forgotten about pet insurance.
Six months later, I really had wished I signed my pug up for pet insurance. After many doctors’ visits, food trials, and medications, he was diagnosed with chronic skin infections and food allergies. This has been an ongoing battle his whole life. Not only that, he is very accident prone! Between him and my three other pets, my veterinarian knows me on a first-name basis. I did end up getting pet insurance for my pets (I love multi-pet discounts!) and even though it won’t cover my pug’s food allergies it has been beneficial (financially) in so many ways. Let’s talk about pet insurance in general, and why I consider it one of the best pieces of advice I have received from my veterinarian.
Disclaimer: I am only sharing the experience I had with pet insurance, I am not guaranteeing that if you were to purchase pet insurance, you will have the same experience, pay the same amount, or have any of the same benefits/exclusions that I will be discussing. I am sharing with you some ideas and items to think about so you can make an educated decision about pet insurance.
The Difference Between Pet Insurance Vs. Human Insurance
Pet insurance carries a big difference from human insurance, and that is the pet owner must pay for all services upfront and then submit the veterinary bill to the pet insurance company for reimbursement. This is slowly beginning to change with a very small amount of pet insurance companies, but it has not become a trend yet. A few pet insurance companies have started considering paying the veterinarian directly (meaning you don’t have to pay for a portion of the bill at all). But this is in very early stages and a select few insurance companies are considering this, not all of them. The companies that do offer this service are proud of it and advertise it well.
How much does it cost to have a pet insurance policy on my pet?
Across all the pet insurance companies, the affordability of a pet insurance policy can vary based on several factors:
- Annual Deductible Amounts– This refers to the amount of money you as the pet owner will pay before you are reimbursed for anything. Solely depending on what the pet insurance company has to offer, this amount can range from $50-$500, or more if you choose. If you choose a higher annual deductible, then typically your premium cost will be lower.
- Reimbursement Amount– unlike human insurance, with pet insurance even if you have met your annual deductible amount, to my knowledge there are not any pet insurance companies out there right now that will reimburse you for 100% of the vet bill. Reimbursement ranges can be anywhere between 70%-90% depending on what you choose.
- Annual Reimbursement Limits– This goes a step further; some pet insurance companies have an annual reimbursement (dollar amount) limit on the policies they offer. The amount varies per insurance company and even per individual policy offered. It is something you can also choose to have raised or lowered (or have no annual limit at all). An example would be having a pet insurance policy with a $10,000 Annual limit- meaning they will not reimburse you for anything submitted over $10,000 in your pet’s policy year.
- If you choose to have wellness care added to your pet’s plan- This includes vaccinations, microchipping, spaying/neutering, or preventative medications such as flea, tick, heartworm, or deworming medications.
- Monthly payment of the premium vs. one annual payment– most pet insurance companies will give pet owners a discount if they pay the annual premium amount rather than choosing to pay via monthly billing.
- Various individual and environmental factors including where you live, and the age of your pet. With data and statistics available nowadays, pet insurance companies can estimate how often policies are being used and that can sometimes determine the cost of the policy (but not all the time). More pet insurance companies are offering very comprehensive plan options and are starting to not “punish” you by charging more for the policy just because your pet is older.
Getting an Estimate
The good news is, getting an estimate is quick and easy! EVERY pet insurance company has you answer 5-10 questions about your pet, and then you get a free policy estimate instantly. You can then even tweak the estimate based on the factors we discussed above. In my experience, for my pets, the average price over the time I have had the insurance policies has been anywhere from $18-$45 per pet (monthly). This is because I took advantage of lower deductibles and usually the 90% reimbursement amount since I visit the vet more often than not! Obviously, I am not guaranteeing you that would be the price for YOUR pets, but most people think pet insurance is going to be this huge expense for their pet so I wanted to illustrate how much it has cost for my pets. Some pet insurance companies also offer discounted rates for veterans, service dogs, or even if you have multiple pets you could get a multi-pet discount.
Searching for Pet Insurance Companies
Like other types of insurance, there are SO MANY different companies out there! I will not be discussing any specific companies because not all pet insurance companies will provide insurance in all States (or outside of the United States). My best advice to you is if you want specific information about pet insurance companies in your area- search for “pet insurance companies near me” or “pet insurance companies for X state” in your internet browser. Furthermore, some existing insurance providers (car insurance, home insurance, hazard insurance, disability insurance) are also now offering insurance for pets, so check with your insurance provider to see if they offer this service. And, as I mentioned earlier, some employers now offer pet insurance as part of their benefits package, so check with your employer too!
Items That Could be Excluded from Pet Insurance Coverage
Like any type of insurance, pet insurance does have some exclusions or items that they have chosen not to cover in their policies. Watch for these types of items that could be excluded from coverage:
- Preexisting Conditions– This means any medical condition or illness that your pet had prior to getting the pet insurance policy will not be covered under your pet’s policy for a period of time (or indefinitely). Watch this one closely as the time amount considered for a preexisting condition varies greatly with each company. Some say preexisting conditions are considered for any condition the pet had within 4 months prior to the policy; some say as much as 18 months prior to the policy. The companies will verify this upon your pet’s enrollment- they will ask to see copies of your pet’s medical records within that time period which they consider a pre-existing condition. If your pet does not have any pre-existing conditions within that time period, that’s even better! Therefore, most pet professionals usually encourage you to sign up for pet insurance while your pet is still healthy so that there are no preexisting conditions on the pet’s policy.
- Boarding or Grooming– typically pet insurance companies will not cover elective services such as boarding or grooming.
- Breeding your pet or any complications from breeding– very little pet insurance companies will help cover any sort of costs with breeding pets (including artificial insemination, or even c-sections). Some will cover a little of these costs as an additional benefit, but most companies won’t.
- Cosmetic procedures– Items that are not considered “medically necessary” to do, such as tail docking on a dog or de-clawing your cat. They look at the procedure from a medical standpoint- is the pet impacted medically if the procedure is not done? And if the answer is no, then likely they won’t cover the procedure.
- Other varied items – these items will vary depending on each pet insurance company you have. Examples are prescription diets, acupuncture, chiropractic care, some wellness-related items, aftercare costs such as cremation, and even other miscellaneous items. Each company is very different about what items they do and do not offer to cover.
The good news is the pet insurance industry is very competitive and wants to be as up-front as possible about their policies and coverage. Most companies have a sample policy booklet posted right on their website for you to look through and find out all the information you need about coverages and exclusions. With most of the companies, you don’t even have to get an estimate before reviewing this information, it is right on the website!
Choosing to Purchase Pet Insurance
As we have already covered, there are many items to consider when it comes to getting a pet insurance policy. Some veterinarians offer wellness packages, so if your pet is enrolled in a wellness package through your veterinarian, then you probably wouldn’t need to have your pet insurance company cover wellness-related items on the policy. Therefore, looking into an accident/illness related policy would be beneficial and would be a little more cost-effective for you than an all-inclusive policy that some companies offer.
How Pet Insurance Works
As mentioned, pet insurance usually requires you to pay the veterinary bill up front and then submit an itemized bill to the company. Once the bill is submitted, the pet insurance company will take a look at what type of policy you have for your pet and determine if it’s considered a covered condition (meaning it’s not related to any pre-existing conditions or any other exclusionary items) and then calculate the reimbursement amount depending on the percentage amount your policy will reimburse, if you have a deductible remaining, where you are at in your policy with your annual reimbursement limit (if you have one at all) and then reimburse you for the bill either by a check or direct deposit depending on what the company offers. It’s that simple!
Is Pet Insurance REALLY Worth It?
Insurance can be a really tricky thing as It sucks to have to pay the monthly (or annual) premium, especially if your pet is healthy, but when your pet gets sick (not if, but when), you will be so glad you have it! It is very, very rare for a pet to go through their life without getting sick or having an accident at least once or twice. If you have a mischievous, athletic, accident-prone, or even stubborn pet, I recommend looking into pet insurance! If you are an active person and involve your pet in your outdoor activities regularly, then I recommend you investigate getting pet insurance! I have many friends that are pet lovers like myself and have countless stories of where they wish they had pet insurance or were so glad that they did have pet insurance! From broken legs to eating scrunchies, running out the front door and getting hit by a car, to newly diagnosed illnesses, pet insurance can help cover the cost of veterinary expenses in many scenarios, making the veterinary bill seem not so bad after all is said and done!
Many folks have saved thousands of dollars a year by having a pet insurance policy in place. While pet insurance does not cover 100% of veterinary expenses, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have most of the expenses covered, right? Do the math on the annual premium amount you will pay and consider how much you spend when you go to the vet, even on one visit. My Husky recently met one of my neighbor’s dogs and after playing for a few minutes, the dog decided they didn’t like my husky and attacked him. My husky ended up having pretty deep wounds on his neck and ear, therefore he needed to get stitches. The veterinary bill was $700.00. Unfortunately, I did not have pet insurance on him at the time. The amount that I would have paid yearly for his insurance premium (even subtracting out a deductible), would have been less than half of that one veterinary bill. So, folks, this is why I consider my veterinarian’s advice about pet insurance one of the best pieces of pet-related information I have received!
There is a lot of information about pet insurance out there right now, and I have only touched the surface of the subject! I will be discussing pet insurance again in future posts. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment!