You want your dogs and cats to receive the best care possible when they get sick or hurt. Of course, veterinary bills can add to your pain. Many pet owners get pet insurance for the peace of mind that an emergency won’t bankrupt them and that their pets will be taken care of. Here’s a look at pet insurance and how to use it to save you potentially thousands of dollars.
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How Pet Insurance Can Save You Money
Insurance may be the furthest thing from your mind when you are trying to find puppies for sale and looking at these adorable faces. However, you may receive a free month’s worth of insurance or a similar deal when you get a dog, and insurance is often worth keeping.
For one thing, it helps you budget for your pet’s major expenses (the monthly premium is a predictable cost). If your pet ever needs costly care, insurance may cover much of the price tag. This peace of mind is invaluable.
The monthly premium for your pet insurance depends on factors such as the pet’s species, breed, and gender. Insurers tend to receive more claims for male pets. Breed matters because of size and the inherent risk of genetic conditions. For example, some breeds are more prone to back issues or hip problems.
If you have cats, you can insure your beloved felines, too. Cat insurance typically costs a bit less than dog insurance. Cats are smaller with less-intensive needs if they get medical care.
Another critical factor is the age of your pet. The older your pet is when you get insurance, the higher the premium is likely to be. Similarly, if you get a puppy, your premium might increase as the pet ages. However, it is possible to find coverage that does not increase your pets’ premium costs as your companions get older.
Older pets are more likely to get sick or injured, but even with a higher premium, insurance can save you a good thousand dollars or more.
Why Pet Insurance Is Necessary for Many Dog and Cat Owners
The average American may be living paycheck to paycheck. In fact, 58% of Americans do, according to the CNBC Your Money Financial Confidence Survey. About 70% of Americans say their finances stress them out. Even many people who are well off financially feel stressed.
A major pet expense could wreak havoc in the lives of people living paycheck to paycheck. They might have to add to already high credit card debt or make tough decisions about their pet’s care or ownership.
Even having an emergency fund might not be enough because your car could break down at the same time your pet is in crisis. If you feel you are OK financially but are still stressed, you get peace of mind with pet insurance. You have ways to save money on your policy itself, too. These approaches include:
- Paying in advance, annually if possible
- Insuring more than one pet with the same insurer
- Going with a lower reimbursement percentage
- Picking a higher deductible
What Pet Insurance Typically Covers
Pet insurance can cover illnesses, accidents, emergency care, tests, diagnostic procedures, surgeries, medications, and exam fees. The specifics vary depending on the insurer, the policy, and specific circumstances. Always review the fine print before you get insurance.
The three main coverage options are wellness, accident-only, and accident and illness. Wellness coverage can reimburse you for routine (preventative) care and typically has a $0 deductible. At many insurers, it is an add-on rider, though, not a standalone policy. It may cover spaying and neutering, vaccinations, heartworm preventatives, and microchipping. It’s unlikely to cover grooming, training, and pregnancy.
Accident-only insurance can cover poisoning in some situations, bloat, cuts, surgery, and ingestion of foreign bodies. It probably won’t cover pre-existing conditions and illnesses, and is typically not available for older pets.
Accident and illness policies may offer coverage for cancer, digestive problems, allergies, and related hospitalizations, treatments, medications, and even alternative therapies. However, older pets and pets with pre-existing conditions might not qualify.
For the most peace of mind, you could get accident and illness insurance with a wellness rider when your pet is young.
Pet insurance differs a bit from typical human health insurance in that you probably won’t pay co-pays. You pay a bill in full and get reimbursed by your insurance plan for the percentage listed on the policy. Deductibles apply, too, and range generally from $200 to $1,000. You pay a higher premium with a lower deductible.
How to Choose a Good Policy
Policies can vary considerably, so get quotes from at least three insurers. Keep the specific needs of your pet in mind and factor in common health problems with the breed.
Review the policy’s coverage limits and deductibles before you agree to anything. Ensure your insurer is licensed to do business in the state you live in.
Pet insurance can save you thousands of dollars in vet bills. It provides peace of mind and helps you best care for your companion. When you choose a policy, make sure it meets your needs. You can experiment with variables such as deductible amounts when you compare costs.