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Save money on your vet bills from pet insurance and how to choose the right policy.

Insurance, including coverage for your pet, will most likely save you money on your regular as well as emergency veterinarian bills. People routinely purchase insurance to (1) protect their health, homes, vehicles and even their lives and (2) save them money. This is the exact same concept for pet insurance – it can help you minimize the cost of costly emergency vet bills as well as provide basic, preventative care for your dog or cat, or other more exotic pet(s).

The entire point of having insurance is it will prove valuable to cover unexpected and substantial costs. It will do the same exact things in protecting you from substantial costs for your pet. Insurance will limit your liability from unexpected costs that may result from a lengthy illness or disability, a tree crashing through your home's roof during a storm or damage caused to your vehicle by a distracted driver. So why not get it for your pet?

Parents often begin buying life insurance once their children are born to ensure the family will have sufficient financial resources in the event of a parent's death. Dogs and cats are often treasured as valuable family members that contribute joy, companionship and comfort to everyone. However, most pet owners fail to insure their pets.

The pet insurance industry started in the 1990s. Today, there are dozens of insurers offering a variety of policies that can be customized to meet almost any budget. There are also a number of other programs that have been created over the years that help people pay the bills for a vet. As dogs and cats are now almost in effect a member of the family. Find resources that help with vet bills.

Benefits of Pet Insurance

The average cost of a single trip to a veterinarian is about $300 for a dog and $150 for a cat, not including medication or follow-up visits according to multiple sources such as CareCredit and Statista. Now of course, surgeries or more specialized needs are much more. A pet requiring treatment for a serious injury or major illness can easily result in a vet bill of $5,000 or more.

 

 

 

Like other types of insurance, the main benefit of pet insurance is it helps to avoid having to pay a major unexpected expense and will prove very valuable if your pet is injured or becomes ill. Not only that, but it can also help you pay for (save you money on) some or all of preventative exams for your dogs, cats, or other insured pets. Insurance will provide you with more options to treat your pet rather than having to face the choice between incurring major debt that could take years to pay or euthanizing a valued companion.

Consider pet insurance as more of a savings account. Or think about an insurance policy for your dog or cat in the same terms as your own personal health insurance policy. You are essentially paying a monthly amount (premium) to ensure that your pet can receive annual check-ups as well as adequate care in an emergency. While you could create a pet savings account by stashing money in the cookie jar each month, you may be tempted to use those funds if a non-pet emergency arises.

Pet insurance also provides a more valuable investment. If you squirrel away $20 a month in the cookie jar for two years, you'll have $480 to spend on your pet. The same amount spent on an insurance policy may give you access to $5,000 or more in covered services anytime within those two years and beyond.

The vast majority of pet owners who purchase insurance typically state that a major benefit is the peace of mind that comes from knowing their pets are protected and can receive care wherever they go.

Cost of Coverage

Numerous factors impact insurance costs including the age, gender, breed, type of pet (dog, cat, etc.) and location of the animal as well as the amount of coverage you want. While some insurers do not impose breed restrictions or an upper age limit for insuring pets, older animals and specific breeds, such as a pit bull, may cost more to insure. Larger dogs and certain dog breeds are more likely to develop specific health issues with age.

A major factor is also the amount of coverage you want for your pet insurance policy, such as the deductible, what is coverage (preventative, emergency care, etc.) and more. The concept of how much insurance coverage will be for your pet(s) are very similar as to your own personal health insurance plan – those prices vary too based on coverage. This means that the cost of pet insurance will vary widely.

 

 

 

 

Policies generally will not cover known pre-existing conditions but will cover animals that may develop congenital or hereditary conditions. The best time to obtain insurance is when your pet is young and healthy.

Deductible costs, the percentage paid for covered services and the annual maximum payout all impact premium costs. Most policies will allow you to choose any veterinarian and will pay about 80% of covered services. Better (a.k.a. more expensive) policies will cover up to 90% or even more but may also come with higher premiums.

A deductible is an amount you must pay before the insurance begins to pay for the majority of covered services. Deductibles typically range from $50 to $1000. Policies may include an unlimited annual maximum payout cap while others may allow you to set a limit, such as $5,000, in return for lower premiums.

Depending on your specific needs, it may be possible to insure a pet for as little as $10 per month. Comprehensive policies with low deductibles can cost up to $200 a month. However various studies show the median monthly premium is about $50 per month for dogs and $30 per month for cats. You may save money by bundling pet insurance from the agency that provides your auto or home insurance.

You can generally choose to pay premiums bi-weekly, monthly, semi-annually or annually. If you have several pets, look for insurers that offer discounts for multiple pet coverage.

Factors to Consider in Choosing a Policy

Pet insurance is primarily intended to deal with emergencies rather than routine care, but plans can be customized to offer a variety of services. As some people think a benefit of the coverage is for regular, annual vet visits, and yes, that can be added to a policy too. Determine if you want just coverage for major accidents and illnesses or a broader policy that also covers routine visits, preventive care, common medications like heart worm medications or dental treatment.

Accident coverage typically covers bite wounds, broken bones, eye injuries, poisoning and most emergencies. Illness coverage usually covers conditions including cancer, skin infections, arthritis, allergies, ear infections, parasites and obesity.  Most pet owners choose a policy that will cover the majority of vet bills if a pet gets injured or becomes ill. This coverage typically includes diagnostic testing, surgery, in-hospital care.

Some insurers offer add-on coverage for rehabilitative services or alternative medicine such as acupuncture. Wellness coverage can often be added to help pay for annual exams, teeth cleaning, spaying/neutering, vaccinations, flea and tick treatments and routine testing, but, depending on premium cost, it may make better financial sense to cover those costs on your own.

Consider how vet services will be paid. Some policies allow for direct payment to the veterinarian while others may require you to pay the vet up front and then be reimbursed by the insurer. Also, check to see if there is a waiting period before your pet can receive services.

 

 

 

 

Take the time to shop around for the coverage that fits your needs and budget. Many insurance companies, including aggregators such as Lemonade, Spot, or Healthy Paws, provide free pet insurance quotes online. After you purchase insurance, continue to check the market every year or two. New insurance providers are constantly being added to the market.

Saving money with insurance policies for your dog, cats, or pets

Obtaining pet insurance is a valuable investment that could both save you money on a wide range of veterinarian costs (including expensive surgeries) as well as extend or even save the life of your pet. If the time comes when your beloved cat or dog or some other requires emergency care, by having insurance, you'll be able to obtain and authorize the medical treatment required without having to subject yourself and your pet to years of financial hardship.

By Jon McNamara

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