Considering pet insurance? Here’s what you need to know.
Many pet owners consider their pets to be beloved family members, deserving of the same care and well-being as human family members. But if your furry pal got sick or injured, could your budget handle the expense?
Pet insurance can help you manage the cost of owning a pet by providing financial peace of mind in the event of a medical emergency. It can make pet health care more affordable and give you the comfort of knowing you have help paying for your four-legged family member’s pet care when he or she needs it.
To help you decide if pet insurance makes sense for you and your pet, it pays to learn more about how it works as well as the pros and cons.
How does pet insurance work?
A pet insurance policy is similar in many ways to a human health insurance policy — you select a plan and an annual deductible, and pay monthly premiums. Depending on the level of coverage you choose, most pet policies reimburse between 70% to 90% of eligible costs after you meet the deductible.
Unlike human health insurance, pet insurance policies usually let you take your pet to any licensed veterinarian or animal hospital. You’ll pay for treatment upfront, then submit your receipt to the insurance company for reimbursement.
Understanding different pet insurance policy options
Pet insurance covers a variety of treatments based on the plan you select. Here’s an overview of the three main types of pet insurance policies.
- An accident-only policy covers situations like broken bones, a bite wound or ingesting poison.
- An accident and illness policy is also referred to as a comprehensive policy and is the most popular type. It combines accident coverage with coverage for treating minor to serious conditions — from allergies to cancer — and procedures like surgery and diagnostic testing.
- A wellness policy typically covers routine and preventive care, like vaccinations and annual checkups, and is usually available as an add-on to one of the above policies.
Most pet insurance policies require a waiting period of a few days up to a month after a policy is purchased before coverage begins. Once the annual deductible is met, eligible costs are covered, based on your chosen reimbursement level, up to your pet policy’s annual or lifetime limit.
Pros and cons of pet insurance
Understanding the pros and cons can help you decide if pet insurance makes sense for you.
- Can take your pet to any licensed vet, vet clinic or hospital to receive care
- Annual deductibles are generally low, averaging from about $100 – $1000 per year
- Can manage the cost of monthly premiums by selecting a deductible and reimbursement percentage to fit your budget
- Flexibility to customize coverage options to meet your pet’s specific needs
- Enjoy peace of mind and financial security knowing your pet is covered — at a reasonable monthly cost — in the event of an emergency
- Must pay for treatment upfront and wait for reimbursement
- Most policies don’t cover pre-existing conditions
- Most plans have multiple exclusions, like elective procedures, coverage for senior pets or certain breeds; and coverage for preventable diseases, like kennel cough, may be denied if you fail to keep routine vaccinations up to date
- You may still have out-of-pocket costs for care
- You might not use all the benefits you pay for
How much does pet insurance cost?
Pet insurance policy costs can vary depending on factors like your pet’s breed, species, age, size and health profile. Costs can also vary based on the type and level of coverage you choose. The average monthly premium for an accident and illness policy is about $30 per month for a cat and $50 for a dog.1
Consider the needs of your pet and your available budget for pet healthcare expenses. While the cost of pet insurance will likely play a role in your decision, the good news is that there are pet insurance policies to fit almost any budget. Keep in mind that premiums can be higher as your pet ages, so you may want to consider getting a policy when your pet is young and healthy.
Other factors to consider
Before purchasing pet insurance, be sure to review any potential policy carefully to ensure that you understand any exclusions, limits and waiting periods. Ask questions if you’re unclear about what is and isn’t covered. It can also be helpful to talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s health and risk factors to help decide if pet insurance makes sense.
Pet insurance can help provide financial security and help ensure that costs don’t get in the way of getting your pet needed care. Whether or not you decide to purchase pet insurance, setting money aside to cover a pet emergency, or even routine pet care expenses, is always a good idea. Commerce Bank has savings account options to help you save for any need, including pet-related expenses.
- Planning for a family pet: How much will it really cost you?
- Preparing for the unexpected: How you can protect yourself and your finances
1 “Average Premiums,” North American Pet Health Association, https://naphia.org/industry-data/section-3-average-premiums/, accessed May 5, 2021