Is Pet Insurance Worth It?

pet insurance

Most veterinarians recommend pet owners purchase insurance, but is pet insurance worth it?

That decision is ultimately yours.

Instead of being sold another financial product, ask yourself the question – Is pet insurance worth it for your family’s needs (four-legged family members included)?

Keep in mind that like other types of insurance, pet insurance is designed to ease the burden of costs for emergencies, such as broken bones, surgeries, or cancer.

It is not generally designed to ease the costs of pet ownership and basic medical care.

But what do you do if your pet is injured or sick and you can’t afford the costs of medical care? Without pet insurance, you either pay out of pocket, put it on a credit card, or start a payment plan.

For some pet owners, this thought is enough to make them consider paying for pet insurance monthly.

According to Value Penguin, in 2021, “The average monthly cost of pet insurance is $48.78 for dogs and $29.16 for cats for plans that cover both accidents and illnesses.” The costs range from $25 – $70 per month for dogs and $10 – $40 for cats.

Like life insurance, there are several factors that determine what you will end up paying for pet insurance, including the species, breed, age, where you live, and pre-existing conditions.

The cost of pet insurance tends to be higher for dogs, older animals, and larger animals, since these types of animals tend to have more health issues.

It is also important to note that the cost of pet insurance will depend on the type of coverage you choose.

If you select a comprehensive plan that covers accidents, illnesses, and vaccinations, you’ll pay more than a plan that only covers accidents.

Forbes Advisor compared the average cost of pet insurance and found:

Accident and illness coverage for dogs is $585.40 annually. Accident-only coverage for dogs is $194.09 annually.

Accident and illness coverage for cats is $349.93 annually. Accident-only coverage for cats is $126.08 annually.

Beyond weighing the overall costs of pet insurance, there are several other factors you should consider when trying to determine if pet insurance is worth it for your four-legged family member.

What Does Pet Insurance Cover?

Similar to health insurance, pet insurance policies generally have deductibles, which means you will be responsible for paying a veterinarian out of pocket before your pet insurance coverage kicks in.

Then, even if you meet your deductible, it doesn’t mean that the pet insurance policy you purchased will cover everything.

A comprehensive plan – Covers a wide range of medical expenses for accidents and illnesses, and also includes diagnostic tests and vaccinations.

Accident and illness coverage Covers veterinarian bills for sudden accidents and illnesses. Sometimes will cover additional medical needs resulting from accidents or illnesses, such as medications.

Accident-only coverage – Covers veterinarian bills for sudden accidents only

Wellness-only plan – Covers wellness exams, vaccinations, flea and tick. medication. Most insurance companies will only sell this type of policy in addition to a standard policy.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Dental?

Routine dental care, such as teeth cleaning, is typically not covered by pet insurance.

The good news is that many pet insurance plans cover dental issues that affect a pet’s overall health, such as dental illnesses and dental accidents.

However, it depends on the policy you select. Some policies only cover accidents, such as broken teeth, but they will not cover dental illnesses, such as periodontal disease.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Pre-Existing and Hereditary Conditions?

Again, it depends on the policy you select, but most pet insurance policies will have stipulations regarding pre-existing or hereditary conditions.

For example, if you have a dog breed that is prone to hereditary conditions like hip dysplasia, your insurance premium may cost more, you may have a higher deductible, or you may have care limits.

There are also instances where insurance companies decline coverage due to chronic conditions.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Neutering?

Since neutering and spaying are considered elective and preventative procedures, these surgeries are generally not covered by pet insurance.

However, some wellness plans (an add-on to pet insurance policies) cover these procedures.

In an interesting turn, some pet insurance companies have spay and neutering clauses in their policies, requiring pets to have the procedure done by a certain age.

If not, owners will face insurance exclusions. For instance, if your dog was not neutered by the required age, the insurance company may not cover prostate problems.

Does Pet Insurance Cover X-rays?

According to Pet Helpful, “One x-ray may cost anywhere between $150 to $180. Any additional radiographs are approximately $90 to $100. The cost increases significantly if sedation is necessary.”

Keep in mind that these numbers do not include additional costs, such as the cost of the veterinarian visit.

Having a pet X-rayed can add up quickly.

Most pet insurance policies do cover X-rays if they are the result of an accident, but you will need to read the fine print to see when X-rays are covered and when they are not.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Vaccinations?

Since vaccinations are considered preventative care, they are not covered by most basic pet insurance policies.

Some of the more comprehensive plans do supplemental wellness care plans, which cover wellness visits, flea and tick medication, and vaccinations.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Putting a Pet to Sleep?

Not all pet insurance policies cover putting a pet to sleep, but some will under special circumstances.

If your veterinarian recommends putting your pet to sleep, some insurance companies will cover the cost of euthanasia.

But most will not cover burial or cremation costs.

Can Pet Insurance Be Used Anywhere?

Unlike health insurance, pet insurance works anywhere (as long as you are visiting a licensed veterinarian).

This is because the claims process works differently. With health insurance, your doctor submits a claim to the insurance company he or she has a relationship with (or the one in-network).

But, with pet insurance, you are the person responsible for submitting the claim after treatment. The pet insurance company will pay you directly after you submit the bill as a claim.

How Much Pet Insurance Do I Need?

Many pet owners choose to purchase pet insurance because they don’t want to have to make the difficult decision between paying to save their pet’s life, placing their pet in a shelter, or putting their pet to sleep.

That’s why it is wise to research the costs of veterinarian care.

If you have a keen understanding of how much you’d pay out of pocket for pet medical care, you’ll be able to make an informed decision.

Value Penguin claims, “According to data based on average claims from PetFirst holders, the most common dog treatments cost $252.75 on average, while the most common cat treatments cost $266.79. […] In most cases, paying for treatment out of pocket for the most common dog and cat conditions is less expensive than the annual cost of insurance.”

Then again, unexpected emergencies are more expensive.

Pawlicy explains, “The average cost of unexpected veterinary care for both dogs and cats is typically between $800 and $1,500.”

The best way to determine how much pet insurance you will need is to do your research.

Speak with your veterinarian and ask for the costs of standard procedures.

Then, weigh the costs to see if it will cost you more or less to invest in pet insurance.

So, is pet insurance worth it?

It depends on your unique situation.

Some pet owners have money saved to cover these types of expenses and do not need pet insurance. In fact, they may spend more money on insurance than they would paying out of pocket.

Others feel the risk of serious injury or illness, which can reach thousands of dollars, makes the monthly premium worth it for peace of mind.

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