Dollars and Pets: What to Know About Pet Insurance

Pet insurance can help you afford the cost of veterinary careIf your pet was injured and needed to be hospitalized tomorrow, could you afford the bill?

We all want to do the very best we can for our pets. After all, they’re members of our family! And we’re fortunate that in this day and age, we have access to very advanced veterinary care for our pets. From cancer treatment, to life saving oxygen, to surgical procedures and more, it’s possible to treat almost all injuries and illnesses our pets may encounter.

This advanced care comes with a cost, though. And with veterinary expenses averaging $1800 per year, per pet, it’s easy to see why veterinary care might put a significant financial strain on many families.

This is where pet insurance comes in. Just as human health insurance can bridge the gap between needed care and cost, pet insurance is designed to offset the financial burden of unexpected illness or injury to our pets. But, does it make sense for you? It’s important to weight the costs and benefits so that you can begin to make a decision for your personal situation.

Pet Insurance Basics

Pet insurance is usually designed to help pet owners meet the cost of unplanned injury or illness. Some plans also have options to cover preventive care such as exams, dental cleanings, vaccinations, and even prescription pet food. However, these plans are usually more expensive on a monthly basis.

Pet insurance companies typically expect pet owners to pay for veterinary services up front and then submit the invoices to them for reimbursement after care is complete.

Unlike in human health insurance, pet insurance plans don’t have a network of providers – so you can rest assured that your coverage is effective even if you have to go to the emergency clinic.

How to Pick A Plan

There are many pet insurance options available now, all with different perks and designs. To pick a plan that works for you, you need to do a bit of research and compare apples to apples. This can be a bit daunting, but if you compare the following, you’ll be off to a good start.

  • Monthly costs (premiums)
  • Deductible amounts
  • Lifetime limits
  • Exclusions, including breed and congenital disorders
  • Waiting periods (some companies require a wait before the insurance kicks in)
  • Payout maximums per incident
  • Add on costs
  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Age limits

Also consider consumer reviews online and customer service. It can be helpful to call your top 3 companies and talk to them to get a feeling for how they handle their calls and customer care.

The sooner you sign your pet up for pet insurance, the lower the monthly premiums will be. So consider signing up your puppy or kitten right away, before any pre-existing conditions can arise.

Peace Of Mind

Perhaps the biggest plus to pet insurance is the peace of mind it can afford you. Pet insurance can save your pet’s life. If your pet is critically injured or has a diagnosis of cancer, having a pet insurance policy will allow you to focus on what’s important – your pet’s medical care – rather than how you will pay for treatment. It’s an individual decision, but that kind of peace of mind can be priceless.

If you have other questions about pet insurance, please call us. Many of our team members at Berkeley Veterinary Center have pet insurance for their own pets, and we’d be happy to share our experience.

Tags: ,