What they don’t tell you about pet insurance: Written by the team at Money.com
Pets have always been part of the modern familial hierarchy in America, with 67% of households owning at least one. This reflects a significant increase since 1988 when only 56% of households did. Despite the economic hardships that pets can impose, pet ownership has increased steadily through the decades. Dogs, cats, aquarium fish, birds, reptiles, and other animals are now seen as valuable family members who serve as entertainers, companions, and even protectors of the homestead.
How much for my pet’s medical bill?!
With approximately 85 million households in the United States owning a pet, caring for these nonhuman family members has become a $99 billion a year industry, more than doubling since 2010. This statistic not only testifies to their popularity but also to the level of financial sacrifice some pet owners make to keep their pets healthy and happy.
The cost of veterinary care alone is expected to reach $30.2 billion this year. As veterinary care continues to incorporate many of the advanced diagnostic and surgical techniques that are commonplace in human healthcare, the cost of veterinary care will likely continue to rise. And with many pet owners facing economic strains due to the pandemic, a sudden pet health emergency, even if not grave, could have them facing the possibility of “economic euthanasia,” having to put their pets down because they lack the funds to cover sudden veterinary expenses.
What alternatives are there though?
An increasingly popular option to prevent this type of situation is a pet insurance policy. Unlike human health insurance which usually pays out directly to the medical provider, pet insurance works on a reimbursement basis. Here’s how:
- You must first pay the veterinarian for the procedure needed and then request reimbursement from the pet insurance company. The reinstatement amount is never 100% of the cost, although some of the more complete plans cover up to 90% of vet costs.
- After this, the reimbursement process is usually simple, requiring only the vet’s invoice (and sometimes some treatment records) along with a completed claim form. You will then receive your money quickly.
How Pet Insurance really works
Like other types of insurance, pet insurance is essentially a package of many different types of coverage. Some packages cover only the bare essentials, while others are more and include preventive care and rehabilitation. Dental coverage for pets is rare, but a few carriers are now offering it as an option in their pricier policies. However, nearly all pet insurance policies exclude preexisting conditions and specific conditions such as hip dysplasia. They also can include payout caps on particular procedures, on the yearly payout, or even on the total the policy will pay. Most pet insurers will reimburse you for care rendered by any licensed American vet, but some limit policyholders to certain veterinary clinics and networks.
All pet insurance plans have a deductible of one type or another. Most insurers give their customers a choice of deductibles; policies with lower deductibles cost more. Being able to adjust the deductible allows customers to pick a policy with a monthly payment that fits their budget. So, here’s the big question, exactly what can you do to budget properly? Well, here are some steps:
Look for quality instead of quantity
When you are looking at an insurance plan, you might feel more attracted to a plan that offers more services. However, you should be careful to pick the one that offers quality over quantity. It’s tempting to cut costs, but this might compromise the quality of your pet’s life. In the long run, it might end up costing you more.
However, if your pet receives quality care, it will be healthier, which means you would be spending a lot less on vet visits down the lane.
Determine the age and size of your pet
One of the first things you should do before getting pet insurance is to evaluate the different costs at different stages. When your pet is younger, you might have to spend more money on insurance, considering you will need to get it neutered or spayed. Plus, if you have a dog, you would need to spend money on training and vaccinations. Some dogs have upper respiratory problems to deal with, while the older dogs can have joint problems. This, of course, depends on the type of pet you have. However, it is clear you will need some insurance to sustain them.
One thing you can do is to score a discount on your premium. Not many people know this, but with a pet insurance premium, you can easily offer a discount for 5% to families that own 2-3 pets. If you have 4 or more pets, the nationwide pet insurance policy is 10% discount. In this way, you can save more.
Eliminate unnecessary expenses
You can also opt for more budget-friendly pet insurance to cut down on other expenses. For instance, search online to get the best deals for pet food, litter, poop bags, or anything you think might give you a good deal. You can also see if you are getting cheaper grooming services. This would help to save money in the long run. The money could then be used to purchase a better pet insurance policy.
Don’t settle for the first provider you find
Before you decide to take up an insurance policy, you should compare pet insurance providers to see what each provider is giving before coming to a final policy. This would help you understand which plan provides better premiums, deductibles, sample reimbursements, and other details. Choose the one that best suits your pet’s needs!
Some companies also offer pet insurance to their employees. You should check to see if your company is one of those. If yes, you should opt for it instead of purchasing an insurance policy yourself. This way, you can keep a greater amount for emergency funds instead of paying it every month for insurance purposes.
Pets can lighten up your home, and they are good companions. More people are starting to realize that. However, it is equally important that their health is looked after, and they are given the best kind of medical care. Therefore, it is important that you invest in a health insurance policy that can give them the best care while not being too heavy on your pocket either. If you can apply the above budget tips, you are sure to provide them with good health coverage that can improve their quality of life.