When you have a cat or dog, part of keeping them happy and healthy is ensuring that they receive the care they need. This means visiting the vet when your furry family member falls ill or needs a routine checkup, which can result in a high bill.
Pet insurance for cats and dogs can cover a variety of health issues that include accidents and illnesses, although there are some types of health issues that aren’t always covered -- usually health issues such as preexisting conditions, preventative treatments, and illnesses that are common to a breed.
Pet insurance can mitigate the costs of a vet bill after you visit a clinic. Regular health insurance has the insurance company pay for your medical bills upfront, but pet insurance has you pay the vet bills out of pocket before you file a claim for reimbursement.
However, just like regular health insurance, pet insurance allows you to choose your level of service and the following:
Choosing a pet insurance plan is more than just choosing a monthly payment -- you should take your annual maximum, deductible, and reimbursement level into consideration. Depending on the type of pet you have and their health issues (or predisposition to specific health issues), you should weigh the pros and cons of the level of service you are choosing.
Example: The lowest monthly premium you receive typically comes with a high deductible, low reimbursement, and low annual maximum. However, this means that you'll receive less coverage for treatments and unexpected visits.
More comprehensive plans come with higher monthly premiums but they give a higher reimbursement; whether this is worth the cost for you depends on your pet and their individual health issues.
Before you pick your coverage, consider how much you can pay in a lump sum out-of-pocket in case of an emergency. Pet insurance can reduce (not eliminate) the amount you pay, so you will usually have to pay some amount out of pocket. It's important to know what you are able to pay upfront to give your furbaby the best care and coverage they need.
The best time to insure your pet is when they are young and healthy (as soon as you get them) since older pets may unfortunately be denied coverage due to preexisting conditions.
Pet plan coverage generally includes accidents, illnesses, and juries but may exclude the following:
Some insurers allow you to purchase add-ons for dental or wellness coverage, but many individuals choose to pay for these services out of pocket.
It's important to read your policy thoroughly since the exclusion of preexisting conditions means you may not receive coverage for serious ailments and illnesses your cat or dog may face such as kidney failure, heart problems, blood pressure issues, and more. Before signing a pet insurance policy, make sure that your pet receives the coverage they need.
While the process of getting pet insurance for cats and dogs is similar, the costs and health issues that face them are different.
For example, monthly coverage for dogs ranges from $25 to $100 and deductibles range from $0 to $1,000.
The cost of dog insurance also depends on the dog's breed and age. Coverage for larger breeds and older dogs generally comes with higher premiums due to health problems that are age-related (bone, joint, ligament issues, dental disease, hip dysplasia) or breed-related conditions to which they are predisposed (arthritis, respiratory issues, etc). Finding pet insurance for senior dogs (age 7+) is particularly difficult and most of the companies that do offer coverage come with premiums that are double what you would pay for a younger dog. However, there are plans made specifically for senior dogs that come with few exclusions and affordable rates.
Puppies usually receive coverage starting from around 8 months with low monthly rates (premiums usually increase as your dog gets older). If you get coverage for your dog when they are young, they're more likely to have comprehensive coverage for age-related issues when they are older.
Some of the most common conditions for dogs covered by pet insurance include environmental allergies, ear infections, cancer, and osteoarthritis.
Cats can receive coverage for $10 to $100 a month and allow you to be partially or fully reimbursed for vet visits and treatments. Deductibles range from $0 to $1,000 and annual maximums can go as low as $5,000 and high as $15,000.
The lowest premium plans are accident-only plans, which cover injuries and are ideal for healthy, outdoor cats. More comprehensive, mid-tier plans cover both accidents and illnesses (cancer, unexpected injuries, and more).
The cost of pet insurance varies by breed and age. Cats with strong genes cost much less to insure while certain cat breeds (example: the Abyssinian) are more expensive due to their active lifestyle or genetic predispositions to specific health conditions like dental disease, kidney failure, and knee problems.
As your cat gets older, the cost of their coverage increases due to age-related health issues. Some of the most common conditions cats face include kidney failure, hyperthyroidism, cancer, diabetes, and allergies.
It's also essential that you insure your cat as soon as you get them to get comprehensive coverage and affordable rates: cats insured at a young age are less likely to be denied coverage for preexisting conditions in case they fall ill in the future. Unfortunately, some insurers will stop coverage for senior cats due to the costs of medical care, although this varies by company.
So is pet insurance worth it? Overall yes. However, there are some cases in which it depends.
Purchasing a low-tier plan for a young and healthy pet can allow you to pay an affordable monthly premium while still receiving coverage in case of an emergency or expensive procedure.
Coverage for older pets is a bit trickier. Only a few companies, such as Pumpkin, will even offer coverage. It comes with higher premiums and the possibility of being denied reimbursement due to preexisting and hereditary conditions. Unfortunately, it may not be worth the cost of hundreds of dollars a year for bare-bones coverage, especially when you can use that monthly premium to build emergency savings for your pet.
Pet insurance is there to give you peace of mind and coverage for expensive bills during an emergency. (Just remember, you have to pay for procedures upfront before it is reimbursed.) If this helps you afford life-saving medication and treatment for your furbaby, then of course -- it's absolutely worth it.
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Pet insurance can cover unexpected illnesses, accidents, and treatments that your cat, dog, or exotic pet may have to deal with in their lifetime.
When you buy pet insurance, you pay a monthly premium and choose a deductible. During a vet visit or emergency, the insurance will cover all or part of the bill.
Yes, although generally the expenses that come with treatment may not be covered immediately. However, you can receive coverage in the future.
Typically, yes. Pet insurance can pay for expensive treatments and procedures that may be hard to cover out-of-pocket.