Every Pet Owner Needs Pet Insurance -- Here's Why
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When you own pets, they become part of your family — and whether you own a cat, dog or another animal, your goal is keeping your pet as healthy and happy as possible. Unfortunately, keeping your pet healthy can come with incredibly high costs thanks to expensive vet bills and pricey medical procedures.
There's a way to cut down your costs without sacrificing your pet's health, though: pet insurance. Like health insurance for humans, pet insurance can help you with the costs of caring for your pet. And pet insurance is important for every pet owner.
Ron Levine / Getty ImageWhat Pet Insurance Includes
Pet insurance brings pet parents one big benefit: it'll give you peace of mind.
With a pet insurance policy, you’ll rest easy because you'll know that should your pet become seriously ill or injured, you won’t have to break the bank to get them the care they need. Pet insurance covers medical procedures that could save your pet's life, and it can also help alleviate some of your annual expenses with wellness coverage. This unique coverage makes it easier and more affordable to get your pet to their regular veterinarian checkups without worrying about the cost.
Here are the details of what pet insurance can include and what you can expect:
You'll Choose Your Coverage Level
Just like you can choose a health insurance policy that meets your health needs, pet insurance companies let you choose coverage that meets your pet's needs. There are many types of policies that provide various levels of coverage for various things. Basic insurance usually covers accidents and illnesses, but you can also choose to upgrade to a wellness plan that includes coverage for wellness checkups, vaccinations, and other routine vet services. Your insurance plan can be customized to include what makes the most sense for you and your pet.
You'll Pay Premiums and Deductibles, Just Like Health Insurance
Like most human health insurance plans, pet insurance policies have monthly premiums that vary depending on the extent of coverage, the amount of your deductible, maximum annual limits and other factors. You can expect to pay anywhere from $30 to $50 per month, according to ValuePenguin1, but insurance is usually cheaper for cats than for dogs.
In addition to your monthly premium, you'll also be responsible for your annual deductible. The deductible is the portion of the vet bill that you’re responsible for paying before insurance kicks in. The higher the deductible, the lower the premiums.
Claims and Reimbursement Differ from Policy to Policy
The most important difference between human health insurance and pet insurance? Pet insurance typically reimburses you, while health insurance for humans kicks in at the of service. Pet insurance policyholders must pay for vet services during every visit -- but you'll be reimbursed by your pet insurance plan.
There Are Annual Maximums
Not surprisingly, the higher a plan’s annual maximum is, the higher your monthly premiums will be. CBS News2 reports that veterinary services can cost upwards of $20,000 for pets' serious medical issues, which means that policies with low limits in the $3,000 to $5,000 range really won't cut it. It's a smarter idea to stick with a more expensive plan with no annual limit so all of your pet's costs are covered.
Expect Waiting Periods
To prevent people from quickly buying pet insurance policies, using them to ensure that expensive services that their pet needs are covered and then canceling their policies, most pet insurance plans impose waiting periods on some services. It’s not unusual for there to be a 14-day waiting period for illnesses and a five-day waiting period for injuries. Some plans also impose waiting periods for specific conditions, so you'll want to make sure your pet doesn't have one of those conditions.
There Are Age and Breed Restrictions
If you’re buying pet insurance for a cat, you only really have to look at the age limits that may be in place. Usually, plans allow coverage starting at six to eight weeks of age for dogs and cats, but they often impose maximum age limits for pets. The maximum age varies from one plan to the next, so if your pet is older, it's important to shop around.
Popular Pet Insurance Options
When you initially search for pet insurance for your dog, cat or other pet, you’ll find there are tons of different policies and options. Pet insurance is a big business, and there are lots of players in the industry. Luckily, however, the best of the best is limited to just a handful of options. Here are the most popular pet insurance companies every pet parent needs to check out:
Pets Best offers a variety of pet insurance plans, including accident-only coverage. However, its base plans have extremely low annual maximums that make them less appealing. On average, Pet Insurance U3 reports that Pets Best plans cost around $38 per month.
Healthy Paws pet insurance offers a single, comprehensive plan that covers many bases for pet parents. There is no limit on annual payouts, and you are reimbursed based on the cost of the actual vet bill.
Formerly known as Veterinary Pet Insurance, Nationwide offers three plans that cost an average of $33 per month according to Pet Insurance U4. Nationwide's Whole Pet plan covers a lot of services, but it costs an average of $60 per month for dogs and $32 per month for cats.
One of Embrace's top advantages is you can customize your insurance policy to specifically suit your pet's. For this reason, the average cost per month for the base plan is just $13 for dogs and $9 for cats according to Pet Insurance U5. The company will enroll pets up to the age of 14 years, which is flexible, and it pays wellness claims in about five days and illness and accident claims in about 10 to 15 days.
With three tiers of coverage, Figo is a flexible option for many pet owners. It's one of the newest companies in the industry, and you can choose from plans with annual maximums ranging from $10,000 to unlimited for optimal flexibility.