6 things to consider about pet insurance
Pets are a part of the family, providing emotional support and unconditional love. (Something we don’t always get from the humans in our lives.) When your dog or cat gets sick, most people want to spend whatever is necessary in order to help their fur babies get better. However, those bills can quickly add up.
Humans have health insurance to help pay medical expenses, but should you consider buying pet insurance?
The answer is … it depends.
The average cost of serious injury or illness
Here is some data on the average vet bill. According to a CBS News report, “Treating common ailments such as cruciate joint injuries in dogs can cost around $3,480 while owners faced with a furry friend that swallowed something … can expect to spend an average of $1,755 … Cancer, which is diagnosed in 12 million pets annually, will set an owner back an average of $2,033.”
Here are some other statistics:
• In 2017, pet owners spent over $16 billion on vet care
• An average bill for unexpected care can range from nearly $800 to $1,500 (CBS News)
• Every six seconds a pet owner is handed a bill for more than $3,000 (CBS News)
6 things to consider when considering pet insurance
1. How much can you afford to pay?
The first thing to consider is what you can reasonably afford to pay if your pet becomes seriously ill or injured. By serious, we mean something beyond routine visits, shots, or a condition that can be easily treated with medication. Anything beyond that could easily cost you thousands of dollars.
A surgery or extended hospital stay could cost $5,000 to $10,000, for example. If you know you can’t afford to pay such a bill, then pet insurance might be something you should consider.
2. How much does the policy cost?
The other consideration is whether the cost of the policy will outweigh the possible benefits. In some cases, what you pay in premiums might never match the payout. If your pet is relatively healthy, it might be a good idea to open a savings account to pay for vet bills.
Of course, it’s impossible to know what health conditions or injuries your pet might experience. Your dog could eat something he shouldn’t, resulting in surgery to remove the object, for instance.
3. Can you afford to wait for a reimbursement?
With a typical health insurance policy, you take care of the co-pay and/or deductible, while the insurance company picks up the rest and pays the healthcare provider. With pet insurance, reimbursement works differently.
According to PreventiveVet.com, “Right now, you pay your veterinarian, file a claim, and receive a reimbursement of all eligible expenses … The pet insurance policy is a contract between you and the pet insurance company.”
So, you must determine if you have enough money or credit to pay the bill upfront and then wait for a reimbursement from the pet insurance company. If you don’t, then pet insurance might not be a good choice for you.
4. Make sure you know what is covered
The biggest concern for pet owners has to do with knowing exactly what is covered. According to TheBark.com, “Each insurance company offers a slightly different product, and you can’t assume that one policy is like another. Read them! If you don’t understand the terms, it’s worth the cost of a half-hour consultation with an attorney to make sure you do.”
5. Make sure you understand how deductibles, co-pays, and caps work
Just like health coverage, pet insurance policies usually include co-pays and deductibles that you must pay out-of-pocket. The co-pay may be a dollar amount or a percentage. For example, your co-pay might be 20% of the bill.
Most pet insurance companies also have caps on how much a policy will pay. There is usually a lifetime, period, and per-incident cap, so it’s important to pay attention to how each cap is defined and applied.
“Those purchasing pet insurance must be aware of the multiple-benefit caps, as an animal may reach one cap before another and lose out on further payouts,” according to TheBark.com.
6. Understand what is not covered
Pet insurance carries various exclusions, so pay careful attention to those when comparing policies.
Most policies include exclusions for:
• Congenital conditions – These are usually deemed preexisting and thus not covered.
• Hereditary conditions – These are often related to abnormalities seen in various breeds such as hip dysplasia, certain eye conditions, or abnormal bone development in large dogs.
• Developmental conditions – These are usual structural, caused by trauma or infectious agents.
We all want to protect our beloved pets, but vet bills can be incredibly expensive. Do your homework to determine if pet insurance is something you should consider buying to help pay the costs. Avante Insurance is here to offer advice and consultation for all your insurance needs, so contact us today for a free quote.