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Should You Buy Pet Insurance?

Money Girl explains what pet insurance covers, the best places to buy it, and 5 tips to know if you should get coverage to protect your furry friends and your finances.

By
Laura Adams, MBA
April 23, 2014
Episode #353

Page 1 of 2

If you love your pets as much as I love my yellow Lab, Dixie, you probably consider them true members of your family. Since no one wants to be caught in a situation where you can’t afford their veterinary care, you may have wondered if you should have pet insurance.

Pet Insurance 5 Tips to Know if You Should Buy It

Although the right pet policy could help you cut veterinary expenses, not all policies are created equal. In this episode I’ll explain what pet insurance covers, the best places to find it, and 5 tips to know if you should buy coverage to protect your furry friends and your finances.

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How Much Americans Spend on Pets

According to the American Pet Products Association, Americans spent about $60 billion on their pets in 2013. Veterinary care makes up about 25% of that astounding amount, which is approximately $15 billion. And that number is expected to continue growing each year.

If you’ve taken a pet to the vet, you’ve probably experienced serious sticker shock from the cost of even minor issues. It can be scary to think about footing the bill to treat a major pet health problem.

One of my friends had a dog that used to eat her toddler’s dirty socks like they were liver treats. After socks kept mysteriously disappearing and her dog had a serious blockage, the intestinal surgery to remove nearly 20 baby socks cost several thousand dollars!

Whether you should buy pet insurance is a financial and an emotional decision. 

Should I Buy Pet Insurance?

So, how do you know if getting pet insurance will end up costing or saving you money in the long run? When people ask me that question, my response is always the same: It depends.

Whether you should buy pet insurance is a financial and an emotional decision. It hinges on many factors such as your income, savings, risk tolerance, pet’s age and breed, how much you’d be willing to spend on a pet’s care, and the type of pet coverage you’re considering.

See also: How to Choose a Veterinarian

 

In a moment, I'll give you 5 tips to know if you should buy pet insurance. But first, it's important to understand what pet insurance covers.

What Does Pet Insurance Cover?

In general, pet insurance covers the cost and treatment of accidents, illnesses, and routine wellness visits. But not all services, medications, and treatments are always reimbursed; each carrier offers different plans.

Common exclusions include pre-existing medical conditions and breed-related diseases. Most plans require a vet to examine your pet and complete a health checkup form that you submit soon after enrollment.

Find out if there is a waiting period after you purchase a plan when certain claims wouldn’t be covered. Also make sure that you can go to any veterinarian that you want.

When it comes to making claims, some companies pay a percentage of a covered cost and others pay a maximum amount per diagnosis only, after your deductible (which is the amount you must pay before benefits begin). Either way, you typically must pay a veterinarian first, and then file a claim for reimbursement.

Where Should I Buy Pet Insurance?

Some of the most well-known American pet insurance companies include:

Quick and Dirty Tip: Get free price quotes from several pet insurance companies and compare the coverage offered. That way you’ll know if you’re buying the best policy for your situation.

Depending on your pet, the coverage amount, and the deductible you choose, monthly payments typically range from $15 to $50.

And now, here are my 5 tips to help you decide if you should buy pet insurance:

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