To many Americans, pets are just as much a part of the family as human relatives. So it makes sense that there should be a way to ensure you can afford to take care of your pet when your pet gets sick. That’s where pet insurance comes in—much like health insurance for people, it allows you to invest a small amount each month in an insurance policy that will cover you in the event that your pet needs an expensive health procedure.
Pet insurance is becoming more popular among American pet owners, and since 2002, the number of pets in the United States covered by pet insurance has more than doubled. However, there are still many pets without insurance, and that’s where it gets complicated. Pet insurance is about protecting the pet owner and the pet when the animal is sick or injured; it’s about planning for illnesses and injuries that are unexpected.
Pet insurance is set up much like health insurance for people. There is a monthly premium; there is a deductible that is either per incident or annual; the pet owner selects a co-pay percentage or reimbursement level; as the pet owner, you can go to any licensed veterinarian; and you generally pay the doctor first and then are reimbursed after filing the claim. The last item is important to remember—if you have to pay the veterinarian up front and then get reimbursed later, that means you have to have the money to initially pay.
It’s also important to note the things that usually aren’t covered, such as pre-existing conditions and related treatments. Experimental treatments, breeding issues, and cosmetic surgery like tail docking and declawing are also not usually covered by pet insurance policies. Emergency care may or may not be covered—this is an important question to ask the insurance company. Since emergency animal hospitals are open 24/7, they are generally more expensive and therefore might not be offered as part of the coverage.
It’s extremely important to do your research on pet insurance companies before committing to one. Pet insurance companies can vary greatly in regard to how much of your claim is covered, or how much you get reimbursed. Choose a plan that protects your wallet when it really matters—when your pet needs treatment or a procedure that is very expensive. Did Fido eat that pile of pennies again? Removing foreign objects from a pet can cost upwards of $6,000… or you can pay as little as $30 a month and have most of that bill covered.
The relative affordability of pet insurance compared to the payout for an expensive treatment is clear, and more Americans every day are realizing the benefits. Protecting and caring for the ones we love doesn’t stop with our human relatives—pets are part of the family too.