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Understanding Pet Insurance: What It Covers, How It Works and What It Costs

3 minute read


As more pet owners consider their animals as family members, pet insurance is growing in popularity. The rising cost of pet care, particularly in the case of ongoing or emergency medical treatment, has led to pet insurance plans that cover certain medical expenses. Many pet owners are turning to these plans for peace of mind when it comes to the health of their furry friends. With a quick online search, you can find the many local pet insurance providers offering deals right now.

What Does Pet Insurance Cover?

Pet insurance is a type of protection that covers certain medical costs, providing peace of mind and protection from financial burdens. Basic plans typically provide coverage for accidents, injuries, and illnesses that do not stem from pre-existing conditions.

However, more comprehensive plans also cover tests and diagnostics, hospitalization, medications, dental checkups, and treatments. Some plans may also cover end-of-life expenses, reimburse policyholders for traveling or seeking out specialists, and other rare veterinary conditions.

How Does Pet Insurance Work?

Pet insurance functions similarly to typical human health insurance, with monthly premiums covering specified situations in the policy. Depending on the plan, coverage can vary. Many pet insurance plans follow a co-pay model, only covering a portion of the costs associated with the procedures and treatments covered by the policy.

Some pet insurance providers work directly with veterinarians and animal hospitals, but others do not. Policyholders will be responsible for the co-pay portion of the costs when their pets receive medical care. Then, they must submit a claim to the insurance company and wait for reimbursement.

How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost?

The average cost of an illness-and-injury-only policy for dogs is around $45 per month ($540 per year), and $28 per month ($336 per year) for cats, according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association.

Cost statistics for nontraditional pets were not available. However, most personal finance professionals do not recommend purchasing insurance for animals like rabbits or gerbils, which tend to have short lifespans.

Getting the Most Out of Your Coverage

Pet insurance insiders suggest purchasing coverage early in the animal’s life to lower the chance of pre-existing conditions taking a bite out of the wallet. It’s also important to do your homework and seek out insurance before bringing a new animal home. Additionally, pedigree dogs are much more expensive to insure, so it’s best to consider the cost before making a purchase.

Caveats and Risks

Most pet insurance policies are designed for emergencies and don’t typically cover scheduled checkups or routine vaccinations. Most plans don’t cover illnesses and medical conditions that result from congenital or pre-existing conditions.

Pet owners should always read the fine print, understand what is and isn’t covered before purchasing a policy, and set aside a comparable amount of money in an emergency care fund if they choose not to purchase insurance.

Is Pet Insurance a Financial Necessity?

While pet insurance provides peace of mind and protection from unexpected emergencies, it’s not a requirement. There are situations in which it doesn’t make sense to buy it, particularly for adult animals in the latter half of their life expectancy.

If pet owners decide not to purchase pet insurance, setting aside a comparable amount of money in an emergency care fund can help cover surprise expenses.

Find a Reputable Provider

There are many well-regarded pet insurance providers on the market, such as Healthy Paws, Pets Best, Petplan, AKC Pet Insurance, Nationwide, and ASPCA Pet Health Insurance. While these providers are trusted, it’s important to check locally or ask a vet for further recommendations.

Always Be Prepared!

Pet insurance can offer pet owners peace of mind and protection from unexpected financial burdens associated with pet care. As a beginner, it’s important to understand what pet insurance covers and how it works, to choose the right policy for your pet’s needs.

Though it can provide financial support for emergencies, it’s essential to read the fine print, do research, and set aside money in an emergency fund for animals that are not eligible for coverage. With the right information and preparation, pet insurance can help you provide the best care for your beloved animal friend.

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