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Here's Why You May Need Pet Insurance

Insurance Ranked - Updated January 9, 2023
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Here's Why You May Need Pet Insurance

Is Pet Insurance Worth It?

Having a pet brings so much love and warmth to your family and just like any other family member, you have to care for them. The costs of food, toys, treats, and care are affordable, but unexpected illnesses and emergencies can result in a high vet bill.

This is where pet insurance may help out. It makes the difference between being able to afford a procedure that could save your pet's life, struggling with a bill in the thousands, or even having to make the difficult decision to say goodbye.

Do I Really Need Pet Insurance?

According to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA), only around 1% of pets are insured. With so little information available on pet insurance, it can be hard to decide whether or not pet insurance is worth it.

No matter what type of insurance you get, you may find that it either helps you or doesn’t provide much of an added benefit. You may end up spending more on monthly premiums than vet care during your pet’s life (which is an ideal outcome since you want your pet to be healthy), but pet insurance can quell any fears about a high bill if your pet has health issues.

Consider the costs first. The average annual vet visit ranges from $40 to $200 for cats and dogs, while exotic pet care usually runs a bit higher. Emergency vet visits can be much higher -- sometimes even over $2,000+, but when your furry family member is in need, you’re probably willing to do whatever is necessary to take care of them.

Compare that to pet insurance premiums, which run on an average of $28/month for cats and $38/month for dogs, $15/month for birds, and $9/month for exotic pet insurance (these vary based on your pet’s age, health, breed, location, etc). [Contact pet insurance providers for a quote.]

Just like regular health insurance, pet insurance covers some of the costs needed to keep your pet healthy and happy. You can choose different levels of coverage (with varying monthly premiums based on the amount of coverage) depending on your pet’s needs. Plans can give you basic coverage for accidents and injuries, accident-only coverage, or a comprehensive plan for accidents, injuries, and hereditary conditions.

Plans also come with a deductible (a specific amount you should pay out of pocket) before you receive coverage, which can reach up to $2,500 a year. When you visit the vet, you will have to pay the full bill and then submit a claim with your pet insurance after to be reimbursed (around 20% to 100% of the costs).

Let’s look at some more pros and cons of pet insurance:

Pros:

  • Comparing pet insurance options is simple since all you need to do is contact a company for a no-commitment quote in minutes
  • Pet insurance premiums are typically affordable
  • You can choose which tier of coverage you would like and keep your monthly payments low
  • Deductibles for pet insurance are affordable for most plans
  • You can choose your own vet with any pet insurance plan instead of worrying if it is in-network like regular health insurance
  • Pet insurance can keep you from paying extremely high vet bills, dealing with debt if your pet falls seriously ill, or even making a painful decision of turning down treatment that you can’t afford

Cons:

  • Exotic pets don't have many options for coverage (for more information, look to our guide on how to cover exotic vet bills)
  • If you have an older pet or a pet with a pre-existing condition, you could end up paying high premiums that may outweigh a regular annual vet visit
  • You will still have to pay for procedures upfront until your claims are processed so you’ll have to make sure you have an emergency fund in case of an emergency
  • Pet insurance can cover a lot, but it doesn’t cover everything so you’ll still have to pay some costs out of pocket
  • Pet insurance can have coverage limitations that limit the amount you can claim, which means if your pet becomes seriously ill, you may reach the limit quickly and have to pay the remainder
  • If you’re only making annual visits, pet insurance may not save you much in the long run

After comparing all of the information, is pet insurance really worth it?

Well, it depends on the situation. If you’re taking care of an older pet or one who has pre-existing conditions and illnesses, then the monthly premiums can absolutely be worth the cost -- especially when it comes to covering emergency vet bills or expensive procedures. Pet insurance gives you a safety net when it comes to unexpected emergencies and expenses, even if your pet is young and healthy.

If you decide to get pet insurance, it’s best to do it when your pet is young; this way, you can ensure you get good coverage and low rates while saving on monthly premiums. Whatever decision you do make, it’s still important that you build a nest egg for any unexpected vet care.

How to Choose Pet Insurance

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Your first step should be to contact several pet insurance companies for a quote. (If you have an exotic pet, such as a bird or rodent, then your only option currently is Nationwide.)

Ask your vet about your pet's needs, any potential health problems that may come with their breed, and what insurance they recommend.

Additionally, the cost of insurance varies greatly depending on your pet: the average monthly premium for dogs is around $45, coverage for cats is around $28, and exotic pets typically have much higher quotes.

When deciding on a policy, look for the coverage your pet needs, other benefits, and your ideal deductible and choose the one with the lowest premium. Be sure to read your policy thoroughly before following through.

Once you choose a company, you will have to provide the following information:

  • Name
  • Breed
  • Age
  • Any pre-existing conditions
  • Name of veterinarian and contact information
  • Visit your vet if you haven't in the past year

Your pet insurance coverage won't begin immediately since most policies have a waiting period (mostly to make sure that people don't sign up solely to cover a large vet bill). This is why it's so important that you get coverage before anything happens.

Some key factors you should look for when choosing the right coverage for your pet:

  • Plan coverage for dental cleaning and vaccinations (although this can be paid for out of pocket since the costs are lower)
  • Accident coverage
  • Illnesses
  • Chronic, congenital, and hereditary conditions
  • Treatments for life-threatening illnesses
  • Coverage for lab tests, blood work, prescription medication, X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and more
  • Coverage for animal hospitals and vet offices

Be sure to look online for reviews on reputable sites like Trustpilot to read real customer reviews -- both good and bad. Feedback from real customers can help you make an informed decision.

We like Pumpkin and Embrace Pet Insurance for their coverage, benefits, and good customer reviews. 


Is pet insurance worth it?

Pet insurance is the most beneficial to get when your pet is young and you have lower premiums, and it can pay for expensive treatments and procedures in the future.

What is the benefit of pet insurance?

Pet insurance can save you money when your pet is injured or ill by covering expensive treatments and medical care.

How does pet insurance work?

Like regular health insurance, you pay a monthly premium and when you need it, pet insurance covers a portion of a vet bill while you pay the remainder out of pocket.

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