Is Pet Insurance Worth the Cost?
Rising costs of veterinary care are prompting pet owners to insure their pets. With 179 million pets in North America according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association, veterinary care costs pet owners $15.25 billion annually. If you’re thinking about purchasing insurance for your pet, you’ll have a few options to consider ranging from the level of care to the insurer.
Deciding on Whether to Buy
What insurance, if any, should I buy? Well, that depends on your desired outcome. Both Consumer Reports and Checkbook.org, a non-profit consumer organization, compared the costs of a lifetime of veterinarian bills for a typical pet dog to the costs of premiums offered by the top insurers, and the premiums ended up costing more in the long run. So… if you’re looking to save on general costs, insurance will not save you and your pet money. Premiums most likely will cost more in the long run.
But… if you’re using insurance for its intended purpose, which is to insure against catastrophe, then pet insurance can and will save you money in the case of an accident or severe illness.
Consumer Reports also devised hypothetical situations in which a kitten with a heart condition and a 10-year-old cat with cancer were covered under an insurance plan. In both cases, the pet owner saved money with insurance versus paying out-of-pocket.
Simpler than Human Health Insurance
While you consider your pet a family member, the insurance industry views Fluffy or Rex as property, which makes the insurance policies easier to understand than human health insurance policies. There’s no such thing as in- or out-of-network; you can visit any vet you please. The levels of coverage are also easier to comprehend than human health insurance: the usual options are accident coverage, accident and illness coverage, or a premium level covering accidents, illness, and other conditions. And with an average of $14 monthly premiums, pet insurance is much more affordable than human health insurance. The premium for the highest level of coverage doesn’t top $100 per month.
Beware Pre-Existing Conditions
Keep in mind your pet may not be covered at all if they have pre-existing conditions. Be sure to talk to the insurance company before purcha
sing a plan for your pet to ensure something you may consider normal won’t disqualify your pet from coverage. And if your pet hasn’t been to the vet in the last year, the insurance company will require a visit before insuring your pet.
And unlike human health insurance, pet insurance requires you pay your vet first, and then the insurance company pays you after you file a claim. This is an important point if your pet requires an expensive procedure. Check with your vet that you won’t have to pay thousands of dollars before you can take your pet home. In some cases, veterinarian offices will work with you on a payment plan or allow payment upon receipt of your insurance reimbursement.
Healthy Paws & Most Affordable
Unlike most pet insurers, Healthy Paws and Trupanion don’t increase premiums as your pet ages. Thus, they offer the lowest costs in premiums over your pet’s lifetime. If you can help it, enroll your pets in an insurance plan while they’re young. And only buy insurance to cover major expenses. It will be a waste of money if you purchase coverage for annual checkups and routine procedures.
Plus, Nationwide Pet Insurance offers Veterinarian Pet Insurance (VPI) for exotic pets, including birds, iguanas, or other pet.
Hope for the Best
While we want our pets to live long, healthy, and happy lives, we also want to be in the best position possible to decide for our pet’s care in the event of an emergency. We also want the best possible care if our pet develops an illness. For both scenarios, pet insurance provides the flexibility we need under emotional circumstances. Not to mention, pet insurance offers the peace of mind we want when it comes to our four-legged children.