A sick or hurt pet is one of the scariest thoughts imaginable. Most of us would do anything to help our pets in their time of need, but sometimes that caring comes with a steep price tag. No one ever wants to choose between paying a vet bill and saving a pet’s life – and that’s where pet insurance comes in.
Pet insurance policies come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s important to read the fine print to make sure a plan is right for you. It may not always make sense to get pet insurance: monthly premiums can vary wildly based on your pet’s breed, how old they are, and even where they live. It’s important to make sure your pet insurance policy makes sense for you, which is why we’ve provided seven things to consider before buying pet insurance.
1. What your monthly premium will be
What you pay out of pocket month to month for your pet’s insurance will depend on a few things, like the deductible and reimbursement level you choose, but it will also depend on your pet. Your pet’s age, breed, medical history, and even their location will factor into how expensive your monthly pet insurance premium is. According to Value Penguin, the average cost of dog insurance is $49 and the average cost of cat insurance is $29.
If you choose a lower deductible for your pet’s plan, your monthly premium will be higher. Estimate how much you’d be paying month to month on top of how much your deductible is when considering whether pet insurance is worth it for you.
2. Whether your pet has pre-existing conditions
The thought of being faced with an insurmountable vet bill is enough to scare anyone into getting pet insurance, but there are a few things to consider before taking the plunge. All pet insurance plans require a physical exam before covering your pet. This exam would be to reveal any pre-existing conditions your dog may have. Pre-existing conditions are illnesses or injuries that your pet is already showing symptoms of or that have occurred prior to the start of your insurance.
No pet insurances cover pre-existing conditions. Getting your pet insured early in life is a great way to get ahead of any diagnoses so that your pet will be covered. There are also alternatives you can explore. For example, Pawp, is a pet insurance alternative. They provide an emergency safety net for bills. So if your pet has an emergency related to a pre-existing condition, they could be covered.
3. Which treatments are covered
Outside of pre-existing conditions, there are other vet costs and treatments some pet insurances won’t cover. Pet treatments are categorized by different coverage types and these can drastically vary depending on the plan type. Determining what types of coverage you are looking for can help determine whether a policy or plan makes sense for you (and which one).
The majority of plans do not cover routine costs like neutering or spaying, annual vaccinations, preventative treatments, routine exam fees, or dental. If your pet is sick, you might be reimbursed for medication or a procedure but you still might be charged out of pocket for exam diagnosis fees. Some pet insurance providers will add these coverages at an additional cost.
4. What the deductible & caps would be
A deductible is the predetermined portion your policy requires you to pay out of pocket before accessing the insurance payout. Some insurance companies will increase your deductible yearly or based on the age or health of your pet. It is important to determine if your deductible will increase at the end of each policy term and what factors are being considered.
Generally, there are two caps to consider when buying pet insurance. Per-incident cap: the maximum amount an insurer will pay for each “incident.” Period cap: limits how much the policy will pay within a specific time frame. Consider your pet’s pre-existing conditions, common issues that arise in that breed or animal type, and make sure you have enough money to pay the associated deductible.
5. How many pets you have
Having multiple pets presents another challenge with pet insurance. Paying a monthly premium of $47 might make sense for pet owners, but what if you have more than one pet?
Some pet insurance providers offer discounts for multi-pet homes. Most of the time, these discounts range anywhere between 5-10% per additional pet on a plan. For many pet parents, the idea of paying for more than one pet just isn’t possible — especially when there’s still a deductible and wellness care to think about.
Spending on pet insurance doesn’t always make financial sense for everyone. If your pet is relatively healthy, you could find yourself spending hundreds of dollars a month on pet insurance when there are other cheaper alternatives.
The pet insurance alternative, Pawp, for instance, allows you to add up to six pets (cats and dogs) in a household on their plan for no extra charge. This way you can pay one flat fee of $19 for all your pets and have a “just in case” fund should any pet emergency arise. Pawp also allows you to talk to a vet online 24/7, providing unlimited relevant vet advice.
6. What the payout limitations are
Numerous pet insurance plans have a maximum amount of money they pay out every year. If this limit is reached, the entire pet insurance plan is terminated and entirely new policy will need to be taken out. Check the payout limitations of the providers you are looking into and make sure they cover the expected costs of the common issues that may arise with your particular furry friend.
7. How much a plan reimburses you
This is the amount of bills or expenses that an insurance company will reimburse you for the cost of care of the animal. Typical cat and dog insurance plans will help cover the majority of these bills for a variety of reasons. Think about your pet and what is most likely to occur and determine the best policy for them based on this information.
Regardless of the pet you have, the pet you want, their age, breed, or the like — think about whether pet insurance is right for you. While some pet insurance policies may be too expensive, certain pet insurance alternatives provide the peace of mind you need to enjoy your time with your furry friends.