Is pet insurance a good idea for you and your dog? Many dog owners debate whether or not to purchase a pet insurance policy. The cost of dog ownership can be high, but is pet insurance worth it? What does it cover? How much will it cost? Here's some information to help you make an informed decision.
How Does Pet Insurance Work?
Most pet insurance works in a similar way to auto insurance. You select a coverage plan and pay a monthly premium.
You typically have the option to choose whether your plan covers most health issues, only major illnesses, or something in-between. The monthly rate varies based upon the coverage. Other rate factors include your dog's age, breed, and reproductive status.
It is important to know that, in general, veterinarians do not process pet insurance. You and your veterinarian work together to make decisions about your dog's treatment. The insurance company has no involvement at this point. You pay the bill yourself and then submit the claim to insurance. If covered, the insurance company reimburses you for a percentage of the bill (based upon your plan's coverage). This requires you to have cash or credit available to pay your vet bills while waiting to get the money back form the insurance company, so planning ahead for emergencies is still necessary.
Is Pet Insurance Worth It?
Pat insurance is a good idea in most cases.
Many dog owners without insurance find themselves regretting it when something happens. Pet insurance can help you save money on dog expenses, but it still costs money up front. Premiums generally range from about $5-50 per month. Lower cost plans have higher deductibles and cover less. The higher cost plans can have deductibles as low as $100 per year and cover up to 90% of your vet bill.
That's not too bad considering that routine vet services and products is typically costs about $600-1300 per year (remember this does not count unexpected illness/injury).
Remember that pet insurance is not just for older, sickly pets. Getting a pet insurance policy for your young, healthy dog can be quite affordable and even cover routine things like wellness exams, vaccines, lab work and preventive care. In fact, getting your puppy started on an insurance plan early can really help keep costs down.
Before you can decide if pet insurance is truly worth the money, you should do some research. This comparison chart can help get you started. Also, check out NAPHIA's pet insurance buying guide. It's also a great idea to ask your vet for some recommendations. Then, check out some of the insurance companies themselves and ask for some quotes. Here are some of the the most common pet insurance companies:
- Embrace Pet Insurance
- Nationwide Pet Insurance (formerly VPI)
- Pets Best
- Healthy Paws Pet Insurance
- ASPCA Pet Health Insurance
- AKC Pet Healthcare
Pet Insurance Alternatives
Pet health insurance can be great, but it's not for everyone. Here are a few alternatives to help you budget for vet costs and, in some cases, save money:
- Start a savings account specifically for pet expenses. Find one with a good interest rate, and you can even save a little extra. This is really the best option for vet cost planning, as it will not limit which vet you can see.
- Apply for a line of credit through a company like CareCredit. Be aware that not all vet clinics accept these plans, so do your research in advance.
- Choose a vet that offers pre-paid wellness plans. However, know that you will be limited to that vet/chain to get services under the plan.
- Sign up for a program like PetAssure. You pay a membership fee to get a discount at certain vet offices, just make sure those clinics are in your area and to your liking.