Owning a pet means having a loyal companion, but it also means paying emergency vet bills if your dog eats something it shouldn’t or your cat develops diabetes. Pet insurance policies protect your financial well-being and your pet’s health, though many can seem expensive upfront. So, is pet insurance worth it?
To understand whether or not coverage is right for your furry friend, you need to consider the benefits and the costs. Many assume that pet insurance costs as much as human health insurance, but this isn’t true. You can find many plans for a relatively low rate. Conversely, the cost to take your pet to the vet for emergency care or complex treatments can exceed thousands of dollars.
While pet insurance can cover expensive vet bills, it includes many complexities, like other insurance policies. Learning the different coverage exclusions, deductibles, and cost expectations can help you make the best decision as a loving pet owner. Read on to discover everything you need to know about whether or not pet insurance is the right choice for your family.
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Pet Insurance Is Becoming More Popular
While pet insurance may not be brand new, it’s gained more traction over recent years. In 2021 alone, nearly 4 million cats and dogs received pet insurance coverage, showing a 28% increase from the year prior.
To put this figure into perspective, approximately 69 million homes in the U.S. own dogs, and 45 million own cats, so only a small percentage of pet owners are insuring their pets. But why has this figure recently spiked?
Veterinary care continues to become more expensive as technology advances. Now that vets offer state-of-the-art treatments that extend pets’ lifespans, people pay more to keep their pets healthy. With this rise in costs, more pet owners choose pet insurance to make it easier to budget for a fixed monthly premium instead of shelling out thousands for unforeseen events.
What Does Pet Insurance Actually Cost?
The average cost of pet insurance varies based on animal type, pet age, and coverage. As the average pet premium data shows, an accident and illness policy will cost around $584 for dogs and $343 for cats, equating to $49 or $39 a month. Accident-only policies reduce these averages by more than half, with dogs costing around $239 and cats around $130.
Accident policies cover most accidents, like if your cat swallows a toy. Accident and illness policies also cover typical illnesses, like gingivitis, diabetes, and hip dysplasia.
The main factors affecting how much your pet insurance monthly premiums cost include the following:
- Your location
- Your pet’s age and breed
- Your policy’s coverage details and exclusions
- Any discounts you qualify for
What You Can Expect To Pay on Your Pet’s Insurance Throughout Their Life
Is pet insurance worth it? To answer this, you can estimate the costs for your entire pet’s lifetime, not just monthly rates.
All rates typically increase as your pet ages since they may face more health complications. To help you understand rate fluctuations better, let’s look at quotes from a top Insurdinary pet insurance partner for a spayed, mixed-breed female cat. The monthly premiums below reflect the received quotes for a $200 deductible:
- Eight weeks old: $34.67
- Two years old: $38.24
- Four years old: $54.45
- Six years old: $75.66
- Eight years old: $103.89
- Ten years old: $131.97
- 12 years old: $151.80
While each increase may not seem like much, the totals can add up quickly. Using the rates above, the first year of owning your cat would only cost about $416. By the time they turn 12, you’d be paying over $1,800 a year.
Keep in mind that the quotes above only reflect rates for a mixed-breed spayed cat in a specific area code. Your location may greatly affect the rates you receive, so always explore rates from several pet insurance providers.
What Does Pet Insurance Cover?
Pet insurance coverage depends on the plan you choose, though most policies include illnesses, injuries, and accidents. The most commonly covered services include the following:
- Accidental injuries (wounds, bone fractures, swallowing foreign objects)
- Sudden illnesses (allergies, glaucoma, gastrointestinal issues)
- Chronic diseases (heart disease, arthritis, diabetes)
- Dental complications (gingivitis, periodontal disease)
- Hereditary conditions (hyperthyroidism, hip dysplasia, von Willebrand disease)
- Prescription medications
- Cancer diagnoses and treatments
- Emergency exams
- Diagnostic exams (blood work, X-rays, MRIs, fecal exams)
Many plans also offer coverage add-ons. For example, you can add routine wellness care coverage to pay for checkups, vaccinations, and flea prevention. Other popular add-ons include alternative treatment coverage, pregnancy and breeding insurance, end-of-life coverage, and behavioral modification therapy.
Deductibles, Payouts, and Coverage Limitations
Most pet insurance plans include deductibles, payout limitations, and other coverage requirements you should learn before signing up. You usually must meet your deductible before your coverage kicks in. After fulfilling your deductible, your insurer will pay for a percentage of the remaining costs, typically 70%, 80%, 90%, or 100% (up to a certain amount), depending on your plan.
For example, say you select a plan with a $15 monthly premium, $500 deductible, 80% reimbursement rate, and maximum payout of $10,000. You’ll pay $15 per month to keep your coverage. Now, say your pet gets into a severe accident costing $12,000 in vet bills. You will first have to pay $500 before your coverage kicks in.
After fulfilling your deductible, your insurance company will pay a maximum of $10,000 of the total $12,000 owed.
Every insurance provider offers different reimbursement rates and payout limitations, so we recommend selecting one that aligns with your needs. For example, Trupanion Pet Insurance, offers 90% reimbursement rates with no payout limitations, making it an excellent choice for protecting your pet in emergencies.
Is pet insurance worth it? Let’s look at the non-covered services to gain a deeper perspective.
Pet insurance does not cover any pre-existing condition your furry friend has. For example, if your policy covers cancer treatments, but your cat had cancer before signing up for coverage, the plan will not cover any cancer-related exams, treatments, or surgeries. Signing up for pet insurance while your animal is young and healthy is the best way to take advantage of coverage options.
Other services that pet insurance typically doesn’t cover include the following:
- Neutering surgery (unless you add it on)
- Wellness checkups and vaccinations (unless added on)
- Teeth cleanings
- Experimental treatments beyond board standards (i.e., acupuncture)
- Elective surgeries
- Cosmetic procedures
- Preventative care
- Pet daycare boarding
- Grooming services
- Food and other supplies
You may be able to add a few of the above services to your plan for an extra monthly fee, depending on your provider.
Weighing the Cost of Out-of-pocket Veterinary Care
Now that you know how much insurance costs and what it can cover, let’s explore the alternative to see if pet insurance is worth it. According to a study by americanpetproducts.org, routine vet visits cost dog parents an average of $242 annually and cat parents $178 annually. Surgical visits can increase average annual costs to $458 for dogs and $201 for cats.
Emergency visit costs can quickly become unaffordable out-of-pocket. The average cost for an unexpected veterinary visit ranges from $800 to $1,500 since they typically include blood work, expensive testing, treatments, prescription medications, and often, surgery. Only 39% of American pet owners have the savings to cover such costs.
Because an unexpected vet visit can cost thousands and routine care can cost hundreds, pet owners must save around $5,000 to $10,000 to prepare for potential pet emergencies. While an accident may not happen, a disease diagnosis can require long-term treatments, each costing hundreds or thousands.
While pet insurance may not seem valuable for routine checkups, it can save your finances, help your pet receive treatment, and prevent severe debt in the case of unplanned emergency care.
Is Pet Insurance Worth It? The Final Verdict
The question, “Is pet insurance worth it?” does not have a one-size-fits-all answer. Every pet and owner is unique, so you must consider your own coverage and financial needs.
Pet insurance may be worth it if the following statements apply to you:
- You have a young, healthy pet.
- You want your pet to always receive the treatment they need.
- You want to avoid veterinary debt.
- You prefer to budget for a fixed monthly premium instead of surprise emergency vet bills
Pet insurance may not be worth it if the following apply to you:
- You have a senior pet with many health complications.
- You already have money saved for vet emergencies.
- You prefer paying for any unexpected vet expenses out of pocket rather than a fixed monthly premium
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How To Shop for Affordable Pet Insurance Plans
So, is pet insurance worth it? If you decide yes, the next natural step is picking the best policy for you and your furry friend. At Insurdinary, we want to help you find the coverage you need at the lowest rates so you can save money while enjoying peace of mind. With our rate comparison tool, you can receive quotes from the top pet insurers in moments like Trupanion Pet Insurance, providing top-notch plans with no payout limitations and affordable monthly rates. Find pet insurance today using Insurdinary, or contact our team with any questions.