When you have a pet, you likely will have to deal with a sick or injured pet at some point in their life. To mediate any additional problems that can come your way, a good thing to do would be to invest in pet insurance to help cover any future medical expenses.
Since the 2010s, pet insurance has become much more popular than ever before. According to the 2021-2022 National Pet Owners Survey by the American Pet Products Association, the purchase of pet insurance increased for dogs and cats – though cat insurance in particular doubled.
For those of you who are considering whether you too should purchase pet insurance, here are some important factors to consider:
Costs of Pet Care
Experts agree that, on average, veterinary costs can cost anywhere between $200 and $400 annually for a dog and $90 to $200 for the same period for a cat. When purchasing a pet care plan, costs can be driven up due to the accident and illness component.
This is also the primary reason most pet owners purchase pet insurance, to begin with. When all of these prices are pulled together, pet care can become quite pricey.
For example, let us say your cat has diabetes – to initially diagnose that disease will likely cost you $300. This is then followed by the treatment, which could cost as much as $240 to $360 per year for the remainder of their life. Or, if your pet develops heartworm, this might cost you anywhere between $400 and $1,000 to treat.
If you are to add on to those costs at any time during a visit to the emergency room, this cost could mean that you are paying upwards of $1,000.
If, however, they are plagued with a disease that is worse, like cancer, these treatments are especially expensive and could run a pet owner anywhere from $5,000 or more. As you can see, owning a pet and caring for them can become quite expensive – especially once they become ill.
In addition to the nature of their health, another factor that shapes how much veterinary care can cost is the kind of breed the animal is – especially in the case of dogs. The reason for this is that some breeds are predisposed to develop certain medical conditions and illnesses.
For example, the condition known as hip dysplasia—where the hip ball and socket bones may not be properly aligned and eventually lead to pain—tends to affect larger dog breeds. When dogs encounter this problem, they will eventually need to undergo hip replacement surgery, which can cost anywhere between $3,500 to $7,000 per hip.
Pet Insurance Coverage
Like human health insurance, there are several types of coverage for pets when researching which coverage options are best. Among the most common types of coverage, there are three that each pet owner should pay attention to and consider:
The first – wellness – is a kind of coverage that includes “routine” or “preventative” care such as vaccinations, regular tests, and dental work. This coverage typically does not have a deductible and does not cover illness or accident.
The second option – accident – address any injuries that come as a result of an accident, such as poisoning, being hit by a car, or getting cut. Those who tend to purchase accident-only coverage are those who own older pets that have aged out of comprehensive coverage.
The third option – accident and illness – is the most comprehensive of the three. Not only does it allow those purchasing insurance to pay for veterinary treatment for injuries, illness, and disease, but it also allows the insured to pay for the accident and illness-based issues even if there have been changes to their regular condition.
Levels of Coverage
Like human insurance, within pet insurance, there are also different levels of coverage such as “basic,” “enhanced,” and “premium” – all of which range from the least (and the lowest level of coverage) to the most expensive (and the most coverage). Along with the coverage options, unlike human health insurance, it’s very rare for pet insurance to cover pre-existing conditions.
In terms of the typical plans, pet health insurance options tend to include familiar elements such as deductibles, co-pays, and annual or lifetime coverage caps. There may also be a waiting period (of when coverage will begin) which can range from 10 to 30 days prior to the plan’s start date.
Unlike human insurance – where the options range – most pet insurance plans are designed based on a reimbursement model where you pay upfront and then receive your money from your insurance company after you have already paid for vet services.
In terms of percentages, the most frequent plan is based on an 80% reimbursement plan – though there are instances where both 90% and even 100% coverage are available to customers.
In addition to the more obvious forms of coverage, many pet owners opt to add extra benefits as part of their coverage options.
At times these may be additional benefits at no cost, but in some instances, they might entail additional cost.
A few examples of extra benefits include the cost of emergency treatment if the pet is abroad, liability coverage if your pet bites someone, the cost of a reward if your pet has been stolen, or the cost of taking care of the pet if its owner is ill and has been hospitalized.
Is pet insurance worth it for your household? Considering the average costs of care and the fact that pet care bills can get quite expensive if your pet is ill, we recommend seriously considering purchasing pet insurance to avoid it leading you into exorbitant costs or, at worst, financial ruin.