pet insurance

What happens if your furry family member suddenly falls ill or gets into an accident? We all want to provide the best healthcare for our pets, but will you be ready if a really big (and expensive) problem develops? A recent survey by the Associated Press found that a significant number of pet owners (41 percent) are extremely or somewhat worried they could not afford the medical bills for a sick cat or dog. Is pet insurance the answer? When people ask us that question our answer is always the same: It depends…

What is Pet Insurance?

True pet insurance is provided by a third party and can be used either at any vet or one within a participating network of providers. Like human health insurance plans, there may be a deductible, co-payments and exclusions. Premiums typically vary depending on your pet’s species, breed and age and whether you buy comprehensive or catastrophic coverage.

Healthcare Costs

Annual preventative medical care for pets can range from $150 to $300. However, preventive care is only the tip of the iceberg. If your dog or cat has a medical emergency or develops a critical illness such as cancer, your bill could quickly hit the thousands. According to an analysis of claims data by Nationwide Pet Insurance, the following are the five most common canine conditions requiring surgery and the average price tag for treatment:

  • Benign skin mass — $999.
  • Skin abscess, inflammation or pressure ulcer — $458.
  • Tooth extraction – $829.
  • Torn ACL or cartilage – $2,667.
  • Malignant skin mass – $1,431.

Cats are slightly cheaper. The following are the top five medical conditions for felines and their average costs:

  • Tooth extraction – $924.
  • Skin abscess, inflammation or pressure ulcer – $458.
  • Benign skin mass – $291.
  • Bladder stones – $985.
  • Cancer of the abdominal wall — $813.

What to Ask For When Buying

Not all plans are created equal so it is important to do some homework. You need to be sure to ask plenty of questions before signing up. For example, make sure you know the answers to the following:

  • Does the policy include preventive care such as physicals and immunizations?
  • Is there coverage for accidental injuries?
  • Are there any exclusions to the coverage?
  • What about pre-existing conditions?
  • How much are deductibles, co-payments and other fees?
  • How are claims handled? Does the bill need to be paid out-of-pocket first?
  • Is there a limit to how much the plan will pay out each year?

Pet Insurance: The Bottom Line

So, now you have everything you need to know about shopping for pet insurance, but what about that first question? Should you actually buy it?

If you are talking from a purely financial standpoint, the easiest method may simply be socking a little extra money away in your savings account each month. However, we all have a lot of emotions tied up with our pets and if having pet insurance gives you peace of mind in the case of a major pet medical bill, it can be money well spent. Buying insurance can also make sense if it is difficult to set aside from your budget each month for pet-related expenses.

However you decide to plan for future pet health expenses, we are here to help! No matter what life stage your furry companion is currently in we can offer guidance on Puppy Programs, Wellness Plans, and many different options for Pet Insurance. Make sure you are prepared to give your pet a long, happy, and healthy life!