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  • Writer's pictureDan De La Torre

Is Pet Insurance Worth It?

Updated: Jun 13

In a world where our furry companions are more than just pets – they're family – the question of pet insurance's worthiness becomes increasingly significant. Because there's no way to predict how or when your pets will get sick or how much it will cost.  

In the past five years, the number of insured pets in the U.S. has more than doubled, highlighting the growing importance of pet insurance during economic uncertainties, such as potential recessions and rising inflation. With increasing day-to-day expenses and fluctuating markets, pet insurance has become more crucial, you should ask yourself: what would you do if your pet had an unexpected $5,000 vet bill?  


How Much Is Pet Insurance? 

The cost of pet insurance varies, with an average of $47 monthly for dogs and $29 for cats. However, the price can fluctuate based on several factors including your location, the age and breed of your pet, how you tailor your policy, and any eligible pet insurance discounts. For instance, the cost for a Chihuahua puppy in Sacramento might range from $22 to $31 per month, while an adult Golden Retriever in Newark could be insured for $43 to $100 monthly. It's advisable to compare quotes from different providers for an accurate assessment of insurance costs. 


What Does Pet Insurance Pay For?  

Pet insurance offers reimbursement for unexpected veterinary expenses due to accidents, injuries, or illnesses, often covering a significant portion after deductibles. It includes a range of scenarios such as accidental injuries, illnesses, chronic conditions, dental diseases, genetic disorders, surgeries, cancer treatments, and diagnostic tests. Coverage extends to emergency fees and prescription medications, and some plans offer benefits for alternative treatments, behavior therapy, and end-of-life care. However, routine and preventive care are typically not covered unless you choose a specific add-on.  


What Pet Insurance Doesn’t Cover  

Pet insurance generally doesn't cover pre-existing conditions, though some plans may cover curable ones after a wait without symptoms. Coverage typically excludes everyday pet supplies, cosmetic and elective procedures, routine wellness exams, and preventive care like spaying or vaccinations. However, some plans offer wellness add-ons for these expenses. Additionally, boarding, daycare, property damage, and personal liability are usually not covered. It's crucial to thoroughly review your policy's details to understand the exclusions and choose the best coverage for your needs. 


How Insurance Plans Work: Deductibles, Claims, and Policy Terms 

Grasping the specifics of a pet insurance policy is crucial prior to enrollment, including understanding the deductible, reimbursement rate, maximum payout limit, waiting periods, and any exclusions. The deductible is the out-of-pocket amount you must pay before the insurance begins covering costs. For instance, on a plan with a 200-dollar deductible and 90% reimbursement rate, a 1,400-dollar dental procedure for your cat would lead to savings of 1,080 dollars. It's important to note whether the maximum payout limit is per incident or annual, with many top plans offering unlimited annual payouts. Different plans might have varying waiting periods for specific conditions, so detailed examination of these terms is essential. Understanding your breed's common health risks is also vital in choosing the right plan.  


The Cost of Unexpected Vet Bills 

Unexpected veterinary expenses can be substantial and unpredictable, with a significant proportion of pets needing emergency care annually. In fact, 1 in 3 pets will require emergency treatment each year. Costs for treatments like dog bites, fractures, and surgeries can quickly escalate, sometimes reaching thousands of dollars. Regular tests, ongoing treatments, and additional medical needs further add to these costs. Without insurance, these unexpected expenses can pose a heavy financial burden. It’s important to understand the varying coverage for emergencies across insurance providers and choose a policy that best suits your pet's needs.  


How Pet Emergencies Can Lead To Long-Term Expenses 

Addressing pet emergencies inadequately due to financial constraints can result in ongoing health issues and higher long-term costs. For instance, insufficiently treated conditions, like a hip dislocation or a urinary tract infection, may lead to chronic pain or resistant infections, escalating the need for more expensive treatments. This is where pet insurance becomes valuable, providing the financial flexibility to opt for the necessary treatments without the stress of immediate costs, thus ensuring the best care for your pet. 


Breed-Specific Health Risks 

When considering pet insurance, it's important to be aware of breed-specific health risks. Certain breeds, like Pugs, are more prone to conditions like hip dysplasia, which can be costly to treat. Similarly, French Bulldogs might face issues like hemivertebrae, necessitating expensive treatments. Larger breeds often have different health risks compared to smaller breeds, including conditions like arthritis or heart problems, leading to potentially significant ongoing care costs. These breed-specific health considerations are crucial in assessing the overall value of pet insurance for your pet's lifelong health 


What Are The Alternatives? 

For pet owners, alternatives to pet insurance include saving funds for veterinary expenses, credit cards, borrowing from relatives, initiating crowdfunding, seeking charitable grants, or opting for veterinary financing. These options, however, might not suffice for costly or multiple treatments. A survey by Pawlicy Advisor found only 19% of 20,000 pet owners could afford a $5,000 vet bill without insurance. Therefore, while these alternatives exist, they offer limited protection compared to pet insurance, which provides broader coverage for emergencies and high-cost treatments 


Final Thoughts 

Choosing pet insurance is a personal decision that weighs financial considerations against emotional ties to your pet. It's focused on maintaining your pet's health and providing you with peace of mind. In 2024, for many, pet insurance outweighs the strategy of just saving for emergencies. Appropriate coverage offers security against large veterinary expenses, ensuring your pet receives necessary care without imposing a significant financial burden 


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