Is Pet Insurance Worth It? We’ve Got the Pros and Cons
How much coverage do you have in place for yourself, your car, and your home? Is their pet covered by a policy?
As a pet owner, you’re not alone if you don’t currently have insurance for your pet. According to a Liberty Mutual study from 2021, only 26% of pet owners have purchased pet insurance.
However, in light of the high cost of veterinary care, it’s an option worth considering. It costs $225 for dogs and $160 for cats to go to the vet annually, depending on your pet’s age.
The cost of an emergency vet visit can range anywhere from $800 to $2,500 or even higher. The cost of cancer treatment for your pet could run you $10,000 or more.
Is your personal, vehicle, and home insurance adequate? If so, what kind of coverage does it have?
If you don’t have pet insurance, you’re not the only pet owner. Americans own nearly 70 million pets, but according to a Liberty Mutual study from 2021, only 26 percent of those owners have pet insurance.
In light of veterinary care’s high costs, it’s a viable option to consider. Annual vet visits for dogs and cats cost $225 and $160, respectively, depending on the age of your pet.
Emergency veterinary care can cost anywhere from $800 to $2,500 or even more. Your pet’s cancer treatment could cost you as much as $10,000.
How does pet insurance work?
At first glance, pet insurance sounds a lot like health insurance for people. Human health insurance and pet health insurance share some similarities, but they also have important differences. nbsp; nbsp; nbsp; nbs
Most pet insurance companies don’t pay your veterinarian directly, so this is an important distinction to know.
Instead, you may be required to pay for your pet’s treatment at the time of service.
Once the bill is submitted to your insurance provider, they will reimburse you for a portion of your costs. However, there are a few notable exceptions to this rule.
Pet insurance policies, on the other hand, often include a great deal of “fine print.” Deductibles and pre-existing conditions are not the only things to keep an eye out for when purchasing a policy for your pet.
There may be a list of exclusions, varying waiting periods, and annual maximums for coverage.
It’s also worth noting that, unlike current human health insurance, most pet policies only cover illnesses and injuries.
It is rare in the world of pet insurance to find wellness coverage, and it can be pricey if it does exist.
Rather than covering all of your pet’s veterinary care, pet insurance is primarily designed to cover emergencies that you would otherwise be unable to afford.
Prior to signing up for coverage, make sure you understand how pet insurance works so that you don’t make any unintentional purchases.
Why Do I Need Pet Insurance?
There are many reasons to consider pet insurance, but the following are the three most important.
1) You’ll Never Have To Decide Between Your Wallet & Your Pet
There are few decisions as difficult as deciding whether or not to have your pet undergo emergency surgery.
With pet insurance, you can focus solely on what’s best for your pet’s health instead of worrying about the cost.
2) Accidents Happen
No matter how meticulous you are with your pet’s care, mishaps are bound to happen. Whether it’s a toenail that gets caught in the couch cushion or a torn cruciate ligament from jumping off the bed, your dog could have an accident that leads to massive veterinary costs.
The vet bills for an accident or illness with your pet can run into the thousands of dollars, but if you have a good emergency pet insurance plan, you can recoup a large portion of those expenses.
3) Manage Your Annual Vet Budget
Even if it’s only a rough estimate, you probably have a budget in place for the vet bills you expect to accrue in the upcoming year.
Vet bills can quickly spiral out of control if you don’t have pet insurance in place.
In addition, many companies let you customize your pet insurance policy to meet your specific financial and functional requirements.
If you sign up when your pet is young, you have a wider range of options, from major accidents and illnesses to vaccinations and other routine checkups.
How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost?
According to NAPHIA, the average annual cost of an accident and illness policy for dogs is $594 and for cats is $342. It comes to around $50 per month for dogs and $28 for cats.
The annual cost for dogs is $218, and the annual cost for cats is $134 if you opt for an accident-only policy. However, they won’t pay out if your pet gets sick after being hit by a car or ingesting something poisonous.
The cost of veterinary care in your area, the age and breed of your pet, and the insurance policy you select can all have a significant impact on your monthly premium.
As your pet grows older and more vulnerable to health problems, expect your insurance costs to rise. Because of this, it’s possible that you’ll end up canceling the policy just as your pet is in need of it the most.
New York City-based Labrador retriever Monthly premiums for insuring $5,000 in assets with a $500 deductible and an 80% reimbursement rate were as follows:
|Dog’s age||Monthly cost|
|7 weeks to 1 year||$27.83.|
What Pet Insurance Covers
Similarly to human health insurance, pet health insurance offers a wide range of coverage options and costs.
Insurers may use different names for the same types of coverage, but the following are the most common:
Vaccinations, routine tests, and dental care are all included in this type of plan, as the name suggests. Routine or preventative care may also be referred to as “routine” care.
There is usually no deductible for wellness coverage, but it does not cover illness or injury.
For example, if a foreign object is accidentally swallowed or hit by a car, this coverage will pay for the medical bills.
If you have an older dog or cat that is no longer eligible for comprehensive insurance, accident-only coverage may be the best option.
Accident and Illness
Injuries, illnesses, and diseases are covered by this type of insurance, as well as any changes in your pet’s normal condition.
Some pet owners choose to include wellness coverage with a comprehensive accident and illness policy, depending on the insurer’s offerings.
Levels of Coverage
Most insurers offer different levels of coverage within each type, with terms like “basic,” “enhanced,” and “premium” sometimes used.
Basic, as you might expect, is the most affordable option and offers the least amount of coverage. Preexisting conditions in animals are almost never covered by pet insurance, unlike human health insurance.
Typical Coverage Conditions
There are deductibles, copays, and annual or lifetime coverage caps, all of which are familiar with human health insurance.
Pre-existing conditions are almost never covered by insurance. Waiting periods are another common feature of pet health insurance. They range from 10 to 30 days.
It’s also important to understand that pet insurance is typically designed to reimburse you after you have already paid for veterinary services.
The most common reimbursement percentage is 80 percent, though 90 percent or even 100 percent coverage is occasionally available.
In addition to the coverage provided by the type and level of coverage you select, most insurers also provide a number of additional benefits, some of which are included as part of the coverage and others of which are available at an additional cost.
A few examples include:
- Covering the cost of emergency treatment for the pet when out of the country
- Liability coverage if your pet bites or injures someone (typically part of homeowner’s insurance but some pet insurance includes it)
- Coverage of the cost of offering a reward for the return of a lost or stolen pet, sometimes including the reward itself
- The cost of caring for your pet if you are hospitalized
- Membership in an online community dedicated to pet ownership
The 5 Pros of Pet Insurance
So is pet insurance worth it? There certainly are a lot of reasons to get your pet covered:
1. It’s Easy to Compare Options
Human health insurance, on the other hand, can be a maze of plans and riders that require the assistance of a professional to navigate, whereas pet insurance is relatively straightforward.
Policies are straightforward, tiers are straightforward to compare, and you can obtain a no-obligation quote from a variety of companies in minutes, making comparison shopping a breeze.
2. Premiums Can Be Low for Young Pets
For less than the cost of your Netflix and Hulu subscriptions, you can get coverage for your pet if it is young and healthy, or if you choose a lower tier of coverage.
A low monthly premium is a small price to pay for the peace of mind that comes with knowing your pet will be able to receive the care they require.
3. Deductibles Are Reasonable
Most plans’ deductibles are reasonable when compared to the cost of a single late-night animal emergency room visit. If, God forbid, your pet becomes seriously injured or ill, you should seek medical attention immediately.
You may end up paying at least the cost of the deductible regardless, but pet insurance allows you to provide your pet with the additional care and peace of mind that you may not have been able to provide on your own.
4. You Get to Choose Your Vet
When it comes to pet insurance, there are no “out-of-network” provider headaches to deal with. As long as your veterinarian is licensed, eligible expenses should be covered, and you shouldn’t be concerned about whether or not your veterinarian “accepts” your plan.
In the event that you pay for the expense out of pocket and then submit a claim to the insurance company for reimbursement, all you require from your veterinarian is a copy of their invoice and the completion of a section of the claim form (or the submission of your pet’s records).
5. You Can Do More for Your Pet
According to a recent joint analysis by Nationwide and VetSuccess, pet owners who have pet insurance are more likely than those who do not to seek medical treatment for their pets.
Parents of insured dogs visit the veterinarian 73% more frequently, while cat parents with insurance bring their feline companions to the veterinarian 43% more frequently.
No one wants to be forced to choose between caring for a sick pet and paying off a large debt.
Too many pet owners, when faced with a catastrophic medical crisis they hadn’t anticipated, are forced to make the heartbreaking decision to opt for “economic euthanasia,” which results in the death of their beloved pets.
in Australia, according to researchers at the University of Melbourne. If you purchase pet insurance, you may be able to avoid having to make such a difficult decision for yourself and your pet.
The 5 Cons of Pet Insurance
But for some, the cons of pet insurance outweigh the pros. Here are a few of the biggest problems with pet insurance policies:
1. Premiums Can Be High for Older Pets
Your pet’s monthly premium could be as high as $50 or more per month if your pet is older, has a pre-existing condition, or is in a high-risk tier.
You’ll want to carefully consider whether the annual cost is a good investment in your future. It is reasonable to expect to pay more if you require more customized coverage (for example, if you wish to have a specific chronic or behavioral condition covered).
2. You Still Have to Pay Up Front
Even if you have pet insurance, it will not protect you from having to pay a large sum of money if your pet requires a costly procedure.
Regardless of whether you have insurance, it’s a good idea to have a separate savings account for vet emergencies to ensure that you can cover any upfront costs while your claims are being processed.
3. It Doesn’t Cover Everything
According to a report by the New York Times, even when a pet owner has insurance, they are still responsible for approximately 20% of their pet’s medical expenses.
Routine wellness checkups are typically not covered (unless you pay an additional fee for them), which means you’ll have to pay for them out of pocket.
Certain hereditary or genetic conditions may also be excluded from coverage. Make certain to thoroughly review the specifics of each policy.
4. The Coverage has Limitations
Many plans also have a limit on how much you can claim, either annually or over the course of your pet’s life. If your pet is unfortunate enough to suffer from a serious medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention.
You could quickly reach the limit of your plan’s coverage and be forced to pay the difference in cost.
5. You Could Even Spend More
If your pet only requires routine veterinary care, you won’t be able to save much money. Pet owners who have insurance spend an average of $324 out of pocket on a dog and $264 out of pocket on a cat, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.
According to the journal Animals, which publishes research in zoology and veterinary sciences, a dog without insurance would cost $251 and a cat without insurance would cost $146, according to the journal Animals.
Yes, pet owners who have insurance spend more on veterinary care than those who do not have insurance.
This is primarily due to the fact that, unsurprisingly, owners who have pet insurance take their animals to the veterinarian more frequently than those who do not.
As our animals age more quickly than us, it is important that they receive the kind of care that veterinarians are trained to provide. Simply being aware of this is important if you are already having difficulty paying your vet bills.
And these figures do not include the cost of pet insurance premiums on an annual basis.
The average cost of dog insurance is $49.50 per month, while cat insurance is $29.70 per month. This means that for a dog, the average cost of pet insurance is $918, and for a cat, the average cost is $620.40. (barring catastrophic expenses like unexpected vet bills).
If your pet is fortunate enough to remain healthy and free of major problems, the cost of pet health insurance may outweigh the benefits.
However, that is the essence of insurance: while most of us will spend more money on monthly premiums to cover those rare but expensive calamities, those of us who are unfortunate enough to experience such a tragedy will be grateful to have insurance.
Pet insurance alternatives
There are a variety of other products available to pet owners to assist them in managing the cost of veterinary treatment. In many cases, it is easy to mistakenly believe that these products are insurance.
It’s important to understand how these products differ from pet insurance, despite the fact that they can be extremely beneficial.
“Wellness plans” are available at many veterinary clinics. These plans are sometimes referred to as “preventative care plans” or “preventative health plans.”
You can enroll in one of these plans by paying a set monthly fee in exchange for a predetermined package of wellness care services.
If your dog has heartworm disease, a canine wellness plan may include all of the services your dog is expected to require in a calendar year, including vaccinations, one or two physical exams, heartworm testing, fecal parasite testing, and a complete blood testing panel.
Using one of these plans, you can spread the cost of your pet’s wellness care over a year, and you may even be eligible for a small discount on certain services.
But it’s important to remember that a wellness plan is not the same thing as pet insurance. If your pet is struck by a car, a wellness plan will provide only limited (if any) benefits to you and your family.
Wellness plans can be a useful addition to pet insurance, but they are not intended to replace pet insurance coverage.
New companies, such as PetAssure, are developing additional pet insurance alternatives, such as a discount plan, to complement existing policies.
According to the company, PetAssure members can receive a 25% discount on the cost of veterinary care when they visit any participating veterinarian in the PetAssure network.
As of right now, the PetAssure program is only available as an employer-sponsored benefit. It is possible, however, that they will make their product available for purchase by pet owners in the future, making this a viable option for some pet owners.
It is important to understand that, while these pet insurance alternatives can be beneficial, they are not insurance policies in themselves.
If you find yourself in an emergency situation and discover that you do not have the insurance coverage that you thought you were purchasing, this is the last thing you want to happen.
Before enrolling in a wellness plan, discount plan, or other pet insurance alternative, thoroughly research the product and its benefits so that you can be confident that you understand the product and its benefits.
Should You Get Pet Insurance?
In the same way that property insurance (car, home, etc.) does not necessarily “save” or “make” money in an average scenario, it may be worth the investment in the event of a catastrophe.
While it’s true that you won’t get the most bang for your buck with a generally healthy pet, there’s no way to predict what illnesses or injuries will occur, and for many pet owners, simply knowing that they have a safety net in place is worth it.
In addition, because pre-existing conditions are generally not covered, it is best to begin your pet insurance policy when your pet is young and healthy. This means that you should expect to spend more money than you save during the first few years of your pet’s life.
Pet insurance can assist in defraying routine medical expenses and can be especially beneficial in the event of an unexpected medical emergency. Maintaining coverage may allow you to make medical decisions for your beloved pets that are based on their quality of life rather than their financial well-being.
2022 Pet Insurance Statistics & Facts
Below are some pet insurance trends that fascinate us, and we think they may surprise you too.
- 95% of U.S. pet parents consider their pets to be family members.
- 33% of U.S. consumers adopted or considered adopting a pet during the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of those pet parents chose not to insure their new family members.
- 67% of pet owners say they know about pet insurance, but only 26% have it.
- 63% of pet parents say they couldn’t afford unexpected medical care for their pets.
- 36% of all pet parent age groups have been in debt for a pet, and 42% of millennial pet owners have been in pet-related debt.
- Millennials are more likely to have pet insurance (34%), while 18% of Gen Xers and 9% of Baby Boomers have it.
- If a $1,000 pet-related emergency were to come up tomorrow:
- 37% would use a credit card
- 28% would use cash
- 18% would use savings
- 13% would take out a personal loan
- Americans spent $31.4 billion on vet care and product sales in 2020, and it’s estimated to be $32.3 billion in 2021.
- Some of the basic annual expenses for dog and cat owners include:
- Surgical vet visits: $458 for dogs and $201 for cats
- Routine vet visits: $242 for dogs and $178 for cats
- The average annual cost for a U.S. dog insurance policy (accident and illness) was $594.15 in 2020. This works out to an average monthly premium of $49.51.
- The average annual cost for a U.S. cat insurance policy (accident and illness) was $341.81 in 2020. This works out to an average monthly premium of $28.48.
- Dog insurance is about 76% more expensive, on average, than accident and illness policies for cats.
- 3.1 million pets were insured in 2020 in the U.S., with an average annual growth rate of 23.2% for the previous 5 years (82.9% insured dogs vs 17.1% cats).
- The majority of insured pets in the U.S. reside in California (19.2%), New York (8.7%), and Florida (5.8%).
- The #1 issue reported by dog owners is stomach issues (which, according to Healthy Paws, can cost more than $29,000 a year), followed by skin conditions and pain.
The Bottom Line
Is pet insurance a good investment? Looking at the average costs of care listed above, it’s easy to conclude that paying less than $200 per year for accident-only coverage or around $600 per year for accident and illness coverage would be a reasonable investment to protect against a multi-thousand dollar vet bill—especially if that bill could result in something as terrible as economic euthanasia for your pet.
The return on investment for wellness coverage is less certain. If you have wellness coverage, the chances are that the amount you pay will be approximately equal to the amount you would have paid otherwise.
If you decide to purchase pet insurance, make sure to do your research and shop around for the best coverage at the lowest possible price.