Pet insurance is a healthcare policy for your pet that will reimburse you for certain medical expenses to help save money in case your pet gets sick or injured. It is designed to help protect you from having to pay high medical fees or having to put your pet down because the medical procedure was too expensive. (Of course, not all conditions and expenses are covered with every plan.)
The average pet insurance plan is paid monthly and costs a few hundred dollars per year. When you pay these premiums, most veterinary costs will be reimbursed. Some typical exceptions include hip dysplasia, which is a common dog disease, as well as other preexisting conditions. Just like with your typical health insurance, you will only pay a small portion of the bill while the insurer pays the rest. However, with pet insurance, you will have to pay out of your pocket first. After paying the vet, you can then file a claim with the insurance company to get reimbursed.
Even though the monthly premiums can cost up to a few hundred dollars every year, the advantage of this insurance plan is that you will not have to consider costs when deciding on whether to go through with a major treatment procedure such as surgery, and it can save you money in the long run. Sometimes pet owners that do not have pet insurance are forced to have their pets euthanized because they cannot afford to pay for the procedure.
When you do not have insurance, an injury or illness could cost you thousands of dollars. For instance, if your cat or dog gets cancer, radiation therapy can cost anywhere between $5,000 to $10,000. Other surgeries usually cost around $3,000 to $6,000. However, by putting $30 to $40 every month in a pet insurance plan, you can reduce the risk of having to pay thousands of dollars outright in the event of an illness or other crisis.
What Does Pet Insurance Exclude?
It is important to understand the details of your pet’s specific plan. However, many policies will cover most illnesses and accidents. Some common exclusions:
- Hip dysplasia
- Behavior issues
- Dental disease
- Preventative care such as routine checkups
- Preexisting or hereditary problems
Preexisting conditions refers to disorders a pet had before coverage was bought. Unfortunately, even the best insurer is unlikely to cover these conditions.
How it Works
In order to prevent people from purchasing coverages once a pet is already ill, insurers have a waiting period between when the initial policy purchase and when the coverage starts. For accident coverage, however, this period is just a few days. The company will also require that the pet gets a check-up to make sure that there aren’t pre-existing conditions.
To receive reimbursement from an insurer, you first have to pay out of pocket, then file a claim. They will then review the application and, if approved, they will either send you a check in the mail or directly deposit the funds. The process typically takes three days and could take up to a week for more complicated claims.
What Affects the Premiums?
The cost of premiums depends on how comprehensive the coverage is, where you live, and the pet. However, you will have to pay more every month if you want to spend less per incident. The company may also charge on the procedures you want covered. The average premium rates are $25-30 for cats and $40-45 for dogs for policies that cover both illnesses and accidents, according to ValuePenguin.
Apart from the amount of coverage, pet insurers also consider the following factors when calculating their premiums:
- Species – Dogs are more expensive to insure. Male dogs usually have the highest premiums while female cats have the lowest.
- Breed – Large pets cost more to insure because they are more susceptible to health issues while having a shorter lifespan.
- Age – Young pets are cheaper to insure since they do not have a lot of health issues.
- Location – More densely populated areas tend to have higher insurance costs.
Pet insurance is perfect for a non-human family member. It is possible that a pet might never make use of that policy, but there is a big security in having one just in case the worst happens. Pet insurance can help ensure that your animal gets the best treatment possible in case of an injury or illness.