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Is Pet Insurance Worth It?

Why you should consider pet insurance.

All pet owners know that sense of dread you get when your pet isn't feeling well. Pets are members of the family, after all, and no one wants to see their family members injured or sick!

But we also know that vet bills can be rather expensive, and that expense isn't always something you can pay directly out of your own pocket. That's where pet insurance could be beneficial. We've broken down what is and isn't covered in standard pet insurance policies so you can educate yourself and decide if pet insurance makes sense for you and your family.

What’s covered?

Health insurance for your pet can be used after your deductible is met for unforeseen expenses:
  • Allergic reactions to food or insect stings or bites
  • Antibiotics or other prescription medications or ointments
  • Food poisoning
  • Hospital stays
  • Infections (eye, ear, urinary tract)
  • Injuries resulting from accidents (broken bones, wounds)
  • Surgeries, X-rays, other scans
Some policies cover accidents and illnesses (arthritis, cancer, diabetes, digestive issues, heartworm, leukemia, etc.) while others cover accidents only. Be sure you know what’s covered under your policy.

What’s not covered?

Unlike people insurance, pet insurance will typically not cover routine healthcare costs, although some insurers may offer policies that do cover routine expenses for an additional cost. Generally, the following is not covered:
  • Annual well visits, routine bloodwork
  • Claims occurring during the initial waiting period of a new policy
  • Deductible amounts — depending on your policy, these can be charged annually (paid once per year) or per-incident (paid for every incident throughout the year)
  • Routine dental maintenance
  • Microchipping
  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Preventative treatments for fleas, ticks, heartworm, etc.
  • Spaying or neutering
  • Vaccines
  • Costs beyond your maximum limits

How much does it cost?

Per, the average monthly cost to insure a dog is $42.45 per month and to insure a cat is $20.99 per month. Several factors help determine the premium to cover your pet:
The size, breed, and age of your pet. Larger and older pets cost more to insure. Starting coverage while your pet is younger will help keep premiums lower. Covering some dog breeds will also require a higher premium due to their tendency to develop certain conditions.
Deductible costs must be met first. Common deductibles are $100, $250, $500, or more. If you’re willing to pay a higher deductible of $500 or more, your premium will be lower.
Reimbursement rate will also affect your premium. After your deductible is met, insurers will cover a percentage (50% to 100%) of your expenses. Keep in mind that you must pay your vet first and then apply to receive reimbursement.
Maximums is the other factor. Know your policy caps or maximum reimbursement amounts. You will pay a higher premium for a no-cap policy.
Discounts. If you have more than one pet, ask for a multi-pet discount. The scenarios below show how the deductible and reimbursement rate can affect your out-of-pocket costs.
SCENARIO I: High deductible; low reimbursement percentage
               Total expense: $1,000
               $500 Deductible
               Remainder to be claimed: $500
               Reimbursement rate of 70%: $350
               $150 Remaining (30%)

                              $650 = Your total out-of-pocket costs (deductible + remaining 30%)
SCENARIO II: Low deductible; high reimbursement percentage
               Total expense: $1,000
               $300 Deductible
               Remainder to be claimed: $700
               Reimbursement rate of 90%: $630
               $70 Remaining (10%)

                              $370 = Your total out-of-pocket costs (deductible + remaining 10%)
If your deductible was an annual deductible and it had already been met, Scenario I would cost you $150 and Scenario II would cost you only $70. Of course, there is no way of knowing, but if you have a pet you suspect may be a frequent vet visitor, opting for a higher reimbursement percentage can be wise.

Prevention is the cheapest solution

Pets are toddlers who never grow up, and given the chance, they will “get into something.” Here are a couple of tips to help keep your pet safe:
  • Invest in garbage cans with lids, not flaps. (Trust us, this one’s well worth it.)
  • Install childproof locks on pet-level cabinet doors.
  • Give away houseplants that are toxic to animals or at least put them out of reach.
  • Pick up anything off the floor you don’t want your pet to eat.
  • Keep electrical cords out of sight or unplugged.
  • Purchase a properly fitting and well-latched harness and leash.
  • Secure your pet inside your yard with a sturdy fence.
  • Use a pet harness or carrier when transporting your pet by car.
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