Posted: September 15th, 2016

Pet Insurance

Buying pet insurance for your furry, feathery, scaly, or other type of animal friend may be something you’re thinking about as a responsible pet owner. Americans spend about $56 million on their pets every year, about $14 billion of which goes to vet bills.
Depending on the type of pet that you have and how much their routine care costs, it may or may not be worth the premiums to help you bear the risk of large vet bills in case your pet gets very sick. Here’s what you should know about buying pet insurance.

1. Pet insurance works like healthcare for humans in some ways.

If you want to stick to your family doctor you’ve been going to for over 20 years and they’re not in-network, you have to pay out of pocket then submit a claim. It works the same way with vets. Before you purchase a pet insurance plan, you’ll want to look into whether or not your vet accepts that plan. If they don’t but you really want to stay with this particular vet, contact the insurer to find out how much out-of-network visits and procedures cost for your pet.
Just like with human health insurance pre-ACA, preexisting conditions are not covered. Hereditary conditions might not be covered but this depends on the policy.

2. Pet insurance policies are generally meant to give you peace of mind rather than help with routine care.

While some pet insurance policies are now including riders for routine check-ups, vaccinations, and neutering/spaying, generally pet insurance only covers illness and accidents. There are no co-pays like one would have when seeing a human doctor and getting a free physical with their plan or paying a reduced fee for a visit.
The insurance policy gives you peace of mind. You won’t be financially ruined when your pet gets very sick. You won’t be ruined if your pet needs complex procedures.
However, as more insurers are including riders today, it goes back to being a lot like human health insurance in that the average pet insurance policy costs about $30-35/month but covers more if you pay more. An accident-only plan may be just $10/month while a comprehensive pet policy that includes preventative care would be around $100/month.

3. Older pets, and certain kinds of pets, may be ineligible for coverage.

Depending on the insurer, many will stop insuring dogs over the age of seven. They will stop paying for cats over the age of 10. Certain breeds prone to health issues (breathing issues with pugs and hip dysplasia in golden retrievers) may be subject to a higher premium if not deemed ineligible.
Exotic pets of any age may not be eligible for coverage at all but this varies by insurer.

4. Deductibles can be annual or by the visit or incident.

Read the fine print of your policy, and compare insurers at to find out each one’s stance on deductibles. Not all of them have an annual deductible similar to human health insurance. They are based on the visit or incident.

5. Determine if the maximum payout is worth the premiums paid.

Pet insurance policies have a maximum payout annually. That may not cover all vet bills if your pet gets very sick. Similar to the coverage itself, the higher the premium you pay then the higher your max annual payout would be.