5 Pros and Cons of Pet Insurance — Is It Worth It?
Pet insurance might seem like a win-win — after all, it meant to cover your pet’s health care costs and protect your wallet from expensive vet bills. And like other types of human insurance policies, like heath insurance or life insurance, it can be a lifesaver in the event of an unexpected emergency.
Here’s what you should know about pet insurance, including the pros and cons of purchasing a policy for your beloved furbaby.
What is pet insurance?
Many pet owners consider their pet as a family member. Pet insurance gives you the option of managing the costs associated with maintaining your pet’s health, as well as covering a portion or the full bill for an emergency procedure or treatment.
There are three main types of pet insurance plans in the market, which have varying premiums, coverages and exclusions.
Accident: This level of pet insurance typically protects you and your pet in the event of an accidental injury, like bite wounds or if Fido ingests something toxic.
Illness: Illness coverage is available if your pet needs treatment for major and minor illnesses, like allergies, urinary issues and cancer.
Wellness: This type of insurance coverage includes preventative care, and might include routine vaccinations and vet exams.
Deciding which coverage is right for you depends on your pet, its health history, its veterinary care needs and your budget.
5 pet insurance benefits
Like any type of insurance policy there are pros and cons associated with pet insurance. Here are a few advantages of pet insurance.
1. You can go to your preferred veterinarian
Unlike your own health insurance that requires you to visit an in-network physician, pet insurance doesn't enforce the same restrictions. You can visit any licensed vet or specialist and your pet can be seen at any vet clinic or hospital for care.
2. You’ll get financial relief
Depending on the insurance coverage you choose, pet insurance can help alleviate the financial burden of unforeseen veterinary costs. Some pet insurance options cover 70% to 90% of your claim, and a few insurers even cover 100% of costs (although this is rarer to find).
3. More employers are offering pet insurance
The American Pet Products Association’s latest survey found that millennials are currently the largest generation of pet owners. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that some employers are adding pet insurance plans to their list of employee benefits.
4. You can customize coverage
Pet insurance offers the flexibility of creating a coverage plan to meet your pet’s specific needs. You can often combine different tiers of pet insurance plans (for example, accident and illness). Insurers also provide you the option of choosing your deductible amounts based on your budget.
5. You’ll gain confidence knowing you have protection
Seeing your pet injured or in pain is already difficult to get through. Facing a sudden $2,000 procedure that you can’t afford can put you in an even more heartbreaking situation. No one wants to have to make the painful choice between paying the mortgage or losing a cherished companion.
Pet insurance can provide financial support for pet parents so they don’t have to put a price limit on their pet’s life.
5 disadvantages of pet insurance
Although there are a number of benefits that pet insurance offers, there are just as many considerations, too.
1. Not routine visits aren’t always covered
As mentioned above, many insurers don’t include routine or preventative exams, visits or vaccinations in their policies. This means that in addition to the pet insurance coverage you purchase, you’ll also pay for routine vet visits, separately. Your insurer might give you the option to include wellness coverage as an add-on, but that means your monthly premium will be more expensive.
2. You might still have out-of-pocket costs
Since a majority of policies only cover a percentage of eligible claims, you’ll still pay for some of the bill. If you’re not prepared and don’t have emergency savings for this expense, you still might find yourself in the red.
Also, most plans have a maximum benefit limit. If you have a pet with recurring health concerns that pushes you past this limit, you’ll have to pay full price on your vet bill.
3. Not an option for pre-existing conditions
If your pet has pre-existing health conditions or is considerably older, the likelihood of getting approved for a pet insurance policy is slim. In this situation, you might be better served setting aside funds in a sub-savings account specifically for pet health care costs.
4. You pay upfront costs
Ultimately, a pet insurance plan is a reimbursement plan. You’re responsible for paying 100% of costs up front. And instead of your vet’s office submitting a claim to your insurer on your behalf, you’re required to submit your own claim, directly.
You’ll still need some way to pay for your pet’s vet bills in the meantime, before your insurer processes your claim.
5. You might not use all the benefits
Some pet insurance plans cover conditions and treatments you may or may not ever use. For example, your pet might not ever need chemotherapy treatment or alternative therapy, like acupuncture but you’re ultimately still paying for the “what ifs”.
And if you don’t maximize your policy benefits, you might be paying more for pet health care than you would’ve without pet insurance.
Does pet insurance make sense for you?
When deciding whether pet insurance makes sense for your pet, make sure to take your pet’s current state of health and research any genetic or breed-specific health concerns that might come up.
Assess what you can realistically afford to put toward an insurance policy, along with how much money you’ve saved for emergencies. Plan ahead to see if pet insurance might be worth it for you.
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