Having a fur companion is loads of fun. Not only does it mean that you’ve got access to free snuggles, a great excuse to go for a walk any time, and a never-ending supply of superior social media content, but it also means you’ve got a crazy-loyal best friend to make memories with for years to come.
Pooch smooches and feline head rubs aside, owning a pet also means you have a responsibility to keep them happy and healthy. Routine preventative-care vet visits are obviously a must, but sometimes unexpected pet health needs and expenses arise. Pet insurance is meant to help with the latter, specifically. Today we’re giving you the full rundown on what pet insurance is, how it works, and whether it’s worth the money.
While all pet insurance companies and individual policies are different, most essentially function similarly to catastrophic insurance in human healthcare. In that sense, pet insurance is meant to cover diagnostics and treatments for medical illness, surgical operations, emergency room care, and rehabilitation care.
In other words, pet insurance typically covers the kind of ailments or injuries you wouldn’t want your pet to experience, but that can be very expensive in the event that they do. Some pet insurance companies do offer wellness and preventive care coverage — like regular checkups, teeth cleanings, and even prescriptions — but this is uncommon and something you’d need to seek out specifically.
“When seeking pet insurance, it’s important to note that there are differences between policies around coverage limits and values,” says Dr. Shlomo Freiman, DVM, and chief veterinary officer of Petriage. “For example, some pet insurance policies have coverage caps for the life of the pet. Others have fixed dollar amounts they will cover up to per condition, and a few have no limit once you pay the out of pocket deductible.”
He adds that, for the most part, pet insurers rarely cover pre-existing conditions, including specific conditions that are commonly associated with certain breeds.
There’s a big debate about whether pet insurance is a smart investment. The answer ultimately depends on what brings you the most peace of mind.
Here’s what we can tell you: the reality is that your cat or dog might someday face a medical emergency that requires spending a big chunk of money you didn’t expect to pay. In such an event — without pet insurance and without the financial reserve to cover these costs — you might face very difficult decisions on whether to spend that money.
If you’re someone who tends to have emergency financial funds on hand, then paying a monthly premium on pet insurance — usually about $30 to $75 per pet — might not seem necessary. The argument is that you could take that monthly chunk and put it into a reserve specifically for pet emergencies. On the other hand, if you’re someone who struggles with budgeting for large, unexpected expenses, paying that small monthly premium feels much more doable and can bring you enormous peace of mind.
In either case, you want to consider that paying the monthly premium for pet insurance might save you money in the event your cat or dog requires an expensive procedure or ongoing, costly treatments. If you’re looking for an authoritative answer, Dr. Freiman says, “Generally speaking, I personally think it is prudent for all pet parents to have pet insurance.”
The best time to buy pet insurance is when your pet is young and healthy — ideally, when your pet is still a puppy or kitten, or right when you adopt.
“Although the hope and expectation is that a young, healthy pet will not need insurance coverage, inevitably, by the time that pet is a senior, the need will arise for medical care that otherwise would require large, out of pocket spending. That’s when insurance [could] pay for itself,” says Dr. Freiman.
Things start to get a little hair when you wait to buy insurance until after your dog or cat is older. Not only is coverage more expensive, but you may find that some pet insurance companies won’t cover pets above a certain age. Companies that do will likely require you to get a recent, clean bill of health from a veterinarian to ensure there are no pre-existing ailments or conditions.
Not all pet insurance policies are created equally. If you’d like to explore pet insurance policies, we recommend starting with one of the following:
Healthy Paws Pet Insurance: Healthy Paws Pet Insurance boasts a top-rated insurance plan that’s been consumer-rated as #1 for the last 10 years. The policy covers accidents, illnesses, cancer, emergency care, genetic conditions, and alternative care such as chiropractic care and acupuncture. They’re also noted for how quickly they pay out claims and that they don’t place caps on claim payouts.
Pumpkin Pet Insurance: New to the scene, Pumpkin Pet Insurance is unique in that it offers a preventive, add-on wellness plan that ships heartworm, flea, and tick medications directly to the consumer. This plan also covers an annual wellness visit and annual vaccines, which is very uncommon among pet insurance companies. It’s able to offer this because of its unique relationship with Zoetis, an animal pharmaceutical company.
Petplan: Petplan makes our list because of how inclusive they are of senior pets and pets with chronic and hereditary conditions. While many pet insurance policies won’t cover certain at-risk breeds or pets above a certain age, Petplan does. In addition to covering dental care and unexpected ailments, injuries, and disease, Petplan also covers holistic therapies, including acupuncture and homeopathic care.
What is your experience with Pet Insurance? Send us a note or comment on Facebook and Instagram.
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