The insurance landscape can be confusing to navigate. You can (or have to) get insurance for your health, your life, your car, your cell phone, your computer, your home, your apartment, your kids, your travels–and the list goes on. And that’s just the typical types of insurance: Did you know that European residents can buy a policy for alien abduction?
You’ll probably be okay without alien abduction insurance, but there’s one type of policy you shouldn’t overlook: pet insurance. Pet insurance acts similar to health insurance for humans—including premiums, deductibles and co-pays—and keeps you from having to pay a huge surprise medical bill if your dog or cat suddenly needs surgery.
Below, we’ve outlined three major reasons to consider getting pet insurance for your beloved animals, as well as some things to look out for when choosing a pet insurance policy.
Reasons to Get Pet Insurance
You’d rather pay a small fee each month than a huge lump sum.
Insurance for pets works on the same basic principles as health insurance for humans: You pay a monthly fee (the premium) so that when you do need medical care, the cost of the care (deductibles and copays) is lower than it would be if you paid upfront.
Some people prefer to set aside money each month in a savings account rather than pay pet insurance premiums. However, it requires self-discipline and planning to avoid dipping into a pet emergency fund, and that can be tough if you face other non-pet-related expenses, such as car repairs.
In addition, there’s no way to predict how much money you’ll need to save. What if you’ve only been saving for three months and your cat swallows a toy and needs stomach surgery that costs $2,000? Odds are that you won’t have enough saved, but you’d still be covered if you had insurance. Insurance gives you more control over your monthly budget and you can sometimes get a discount if you’re insuring more than one pet in your house.
You want to keep your pet alive as long as possible.
For many people, pets are members of the family and they will pay any medical bills to keep their cat or dog healthy and alive for as long as possible. However, this commitment comes with a high price tag: Surgeries and medications for pets often cost thousands of dollars. These costs pile on top of one another as animals age and begin to develop multiple health issues simultaneously, leaving owners with huge medical bills on top of routine care and living expenses.
If you’re committed to getting your dog or cat whatever care she needs at the best veterinarians (no matter how expensive), pet insurance could be a good option for you. Pet insurance can help stagger the costs throughout your animal’s lifetime and ensure that you don’t get hit with a ton of expenses in later years. Pet insurance can also keep you from having to choose between going into serious debt for your pet’s medical care or putting him down prematurely—a heartbreaking choice for any pet parent.
You have a very mischievous puppy or kitten who won’t stop getting into scrapes.
Many people associate health issues and pet insurance with older pets whose bodies are beginning to age. However, younger animals can get themselves into all sorts of health trouble: They may swallow a foreign object and need surgery to remove it or eat something nasty outside that gives them major stomach issues. Pet insurance will make sure you’re covered if your kitten or puppy does something like this.
If you’ve had your pet for only a few months or years, you probably haven’t saved as much on your own. Pet insurance can be a good way to defray health costs if your puppy constantly needs vet visits and you haven’t been able to put away a huge chunk of cash yet. Plus, spending less money on surprise medical bills means you have more to spend on fun items, such as new cat or dog toys.
In fact, health insurance premiums are often lower for younger pets precisely because they don’t suffer from age-related medical issues, so it might not cost that much to insure your new addition to the family. Trying to get insurance later in your pet’s life might result in higher premiums and any health issues she’s recently developed due to age might not be covered, as they would be considered a pre-existing condition.
Choosing an Insurance Policy
If you’ve decided that you’re ready to purchase pet insurance, here’s some things to keep in mind while researching policies:
- Know the various premiums, deductibles and co-pays, and whether they will increase or decrease depending on your animal’s age or breed
- Check to see what conditions are excluded –some common examples of excluded conditions include congenital, hereditary, pre-existing, chronic and breed-specific conditions
- See if the policy covers accidents, illnesses or both
- Investigate if routine care (a.k.a. wellness coverage) for annual exams, flea and tick treatments and vaccinations is covered or available for an additional fee
- Inquire if there are any other add-ons you should know about, such as dental or travel insurance
- Ask if your employer offers discounted pet insurance. Pet insurance is actually one of the fastest-growing optional employee benefits
- Unlike human health insurance, there’s no “in-network” vs. “out-of-network” providers, so you should be able to go to whichever vet you choose. Make sure the policy allows for this
- Depending on the plan, you might have to pay vet bills in full upfront and then be reimbursed by the insurance company after the fact
Keeping Your Pet Healthy
While you may purchase pet insurance, of course you hope you never have to use it and that your dog or cat always lives a perfectly healthy life. Here are some steps you can take to keep your pets healthy and avoid unnecessary vet bills:
- Stay up-to-date on vaccinations, as these can protect your pets from contracting perfectly preventable diseases
- Guard against parasites, such as fleas, ticks and heart-worms, and make sure your pets follow their preventative medication schedule
- Spay or neuter your pet — not only will this keep them from accidentally having babies that could end up in shelters or on the street, it can also guard against some health problems, such as certain cancers
- Engage in other preventative care measures, such as feeding your cat or dog supplemental treats to help your pets stay healthy
It can be tough to contemplate the idea of your beloved pet getting sick but having pet insurance can really help cover the costs if your dog or cat unexpectedly falls ill or gets into an accident. Pet insurance can keep you from having to choose between serious debt and your pet’s well-being and it can give you great peace of mind because you know your four-legged family member is covered.
About the Author:
Jordan Smith is a full-time stay-at-home mother of 2 daughters and a new dog named Luna! She loves blogging, crafting, and spending time with her family. She also enjoys strolling the streets of downtown Charleston, South Carolina and all the amazing food her hometown has to offer.