Getting pet health insurance is one of the smartest things you can do, for your pet, and for yourself. Is there health insurance for pets? Yes! In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about pet health insurance.
Why Get Pet Health Insurance?
Pets are subject to nearly every single illness, accident and disease as humans, so, just like people, they need health insurance to protect them. But unfortunately, it’s impossible for us to protect them from an illness or an accident.
And with the rising cost of veterinary care, bills can add up quickly. For this reason and many more we’ll discuss in this article, you should consider pet insurance. In this article, I’ll cover everything you need to know about health insurance for pets so you can make an informed decision about whether you should get pet insurance and find a policy that’s right for you, and that you can afford.
Many families are not in a position to cover an unexpected veterinary cost. My own personal vet once referred to what he called, “economic euthanasia.” That’s where there is actually help that can save the animal’s life, but the family just simply cannot afford it.
If you cannot afford unexpected vet bills, you need to get health insurance for your pet. Don’t wait until you’re faced with a difficult and painful choice between your pet and your finances.
How Does Pet Insurance Work?
Pet insurance works in very much the same way as health insurance for people. Price depends on the amount of coverage you desire, plus various other factors like age and health conditions. Getting health insurance for pets is a great way to manage those costs and could very possibly even save your pet’s life.
More and more families are protecting their pets, and their finances, by purchasing a quality, affordable pet health insurance plan. More people are getting health insurance for pets than ever before. These plans not only protect your pet, but they also save you money.
What Does Pet Health Insurance Cover?
Different pet insurance companies offer different types of coverage. Let’s go over some important questions to ask.
What is my deductible? This is the amount you’re responsible for before benefits kick in. Deductibles can be computed on an annual basis, or per incident (annual is usually recommended).
How much will I be reimbursed for my vet bills? This is the percentage of the remaining cost (after the deductible), you can expect the insurance company to cover. Usually you can choose from 70%, 80%, or 90% reimbursement levels, with higher reimbursement levels resulting in a more expensive monthly premium. That’s the same way health insurance works for people – if you want a lower deductible, you pay a higher monthly premium.
It really is just a matter of whether you’re more comfortable paying a bit more each month to get the higher reimbursement level when you do have expenses – or – save money with a lower premium each month and accept the risk of high vet bills occurring. Just like with health insurance for people, it’s so hard to decide sans a crystal ball!
My personal opinion is: if you can afford a big vet bill – if you can at least charge it on a credit card without ruining yourself financially, then it’s probably ok to go with a cheaper monthly premium. But seriously – if you cannot afford unexpected vet expenses, you should pay a bit more each month to make sure you’re covered if something happens!
Is there a limit to my benefits? You should look for companies who don’t have an annual or lifetime limit on the dollar amount they’ll pay to reimburse you for vet bills. If your pet suffers from a serious illness or injury, you’ll be glad your coverage doesn’t have a cut-off point.
Are there any coverage exclusions? You’ll want to look for companies that cover all illnesses, and all accidents. That should include hereditary and genetic conditions, and you should make sure they don’t exclude conditions based on breed.
What is NOT Covered by Pet Health Insurance?
You need to know that no pet insurance policy will cover pre-existing conditions. This is a really big motivator to get health insurance for your pet now, before they are diagnosed with anything. Also, most policies don’t cover wellness care either – the regular annual vet exams and regular vaccines.
What to Look for When Buying Pet Insurance
You should choose a policy that allows you to use any vet. Pet health insurance differs from people health insurance in that you usually pay the vet directly, then get reimbursed. You should also look for a policy that will reimburse you for the actual vet bill – not some sort of benefit schedule of what they estimate things to cost. And make sure their claims process is easy. Look for companies that will let you process your claim online or with an app. Physical forms can be time consuming and delay your reimbursement.
How Do You Choose a Pet Insurance Company?
PetInsuranceReview.com has listed Healthy Paws Pet Insurance as the #1 customer-rated pet insurance plan, and for good reason. Their commitment to customer service and support sets them apart, in addition to an easy-to-use mobile app for claims processing.
Healthy Paws Pet Insurance offers cat and dog insurance that covers injuries, illnesses, genetic conditions, and emergency care. With one plan to make sign up easy, you’re able to choose your deductible amount and coverage, and Healthy Paws pays a flat percentage of covered costs thereafter. Working on a reimbursement basis, you submit your hospital or vet bill via the mobile app, and Healthy Paws issues you a check.
Unlike most pet insurance companies, Healthy Paws does not have limits on claims. The premiums are low, and Consumer Reports repeatedly found that “Healthy Paws’ plan was the only one that paid more than it cost.”
Healthy Paws is my top recommendation for pet health insurance. You can read my full review of Heathy Paws HERE.
Why Pet Health Insurance is Worth the Money
Because of the increased quality of pet medical care, the cost has increased; veterinary care is expensive. And as a result of the medical advances, pet lifespans have also increased. Even the most responsible pet parents may not be able to pay for an emergency procedure.
Something as simple as surgery to remove something your pet swallowed can run upwards of $3,000. I personally know a young family who adopted a male kitten whose name was Smudgy. Smudgy ate string, and it got caught up in his intestines. The estimate for the surgery to save him was $1,000.
This family had two small children. The parents just could not afford the surgery. So, they were forced to put Smudgy down. I’m not sharing this to be dramatic; it actually happened. And unfortunately, this not an uncommon occurrence.
At a recent visit at my vet’s office, I sat in the waiting room with a family who was anxiously awaiting their Jack Russell Terrier to come out of surgery. The vet eventually came to the waiting room, held out her hand to the family and said, “Here it is!” The dog had swallowed a large eraser! I do wonder whether that family had pet health insurance or if they had to endure the financial hardship of paying for that surgery to save their dog.
Pet insurance covers unexpected costs. Emergency veterinary care is the most expensive and also the most stressful. I remember an incident when my dachshund could not breath. It was after hours, so I rushed her to the nearest emergency veterinary hospital. They wanted $95 before they would even look at the dog. My dog could not breath; she was in serious danger.
I’m so grateful I was able to pay that money so my dog could get the emergency care she needed. (This dog was diagnosed and eventually died of congestive heart failure. I’ve had two dogs with this, and believe me when I tell you, it is a very expensive disease and usually lasts for the last couple years of their lives).
Is Pet Health Insurance Worth the Money?
Investing in pet insurance can help save the life of your pet, and help keep you out of the red. It’s common to see pet owners wishing they’d purchased insurance plans before their pet became ill or got injured. Here are two additional articles that discuss whether pet health insurance is worth the money – these are based on my own personal experience:
Is Pet Insurance Worth it for Dogs?
Is Pet Insurance Worth it for Cats?
The Benefits of Pet Health Insurance
Most families rely on savings (if they have it) for emergencies. Unfortunately, having a pet with the sudden onset of an illness can wipe those savings out completely. Diagnoses can lead to expensive urgent care including surgeries and follow-up. I personally have experienced this. I had a doxy with Cushings Disease. Every several months she had to have blood work that cost over $300. And her medicine cost about $95 per month. And that was years ago – I have no idea what these things would cost now.
I had a Boston Terrior with Congestive Heart Failure. He had to have x-rays of his heart, blood pressure tests, blood work – all more than once. And he had to take two medications – one for the heart condition and other for water retention. It cost well over $100 per month for his medications. The doxy who had Cushings Disease fell on the ice one winter and badly twisted her back.
The emergency vet visit and x-ray, alone with the prescribed muscles relaxers that were all she needed, thank God, cost me $1,000. I had a cat with a bladder stone. The surgery to remove it was $700, and that didn’t include the original vet visit, urinalysis, bloodwork, and x-ray it took to diagnose it.
Consumer Reports says, “A serious illness or injury can take a financial toll, even when the patient is a pet. Cancer treatments can easily run $5,000; surgery to fix a torn ACL from, say, a poorly executed jump off the sofa can cost about $3,300. Pet insurance is sold with the promise that by helping to cover some of your pet’s medical bills, you won’t be forced to consider ‘economic euthanasia’ in the direst circumstances.”
More people are choosing to protect themselves from unexpected veterinary bills by purchasing a quality pet health insurance plan.
I’d like to end by showing you two videos I made about pet health insurance where I speak, in detail, about my own personal experience with my pets and their vet bills. It’s the best way I know to help you make the decision I wish I would’ve made years ago. Debra