Is pet insurance worth it?

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Accidents and illnesses can happen at any time, resulting in an unexpected and expensive vet bill. When this happens, people often wonder if buying a pet insurance policy is a good idea. Many pet owners think so, with more than 3.1 million pets insured in the U.S. in 2020, an increase of 18.9% since 2016. To get pet insurance or not is a personal choice. Before you buy, let’s consider the pros and cons and discuss the costs and benefits of pet insurance.

Key Takeaways

Per MoneyGeek’s calculations, the average cost of pet insurance is about $27.59 for dogs and $14.96 for cats per month.

About 5000,000 pets are economically euthanized each year because their care costs more than the owner can afford.

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Though routine vet care is not always covered by pet insurance, you can likely save thousands on emergency care, making pet insurance worth it to the average pet owner.

Pros & Cons of Buying Pet Insurance

Do I really need pet insurance? Only you can decide if pet insurance is worth the cost, but it does have its benefits.

Pros & Cons of Buying Pet Insurance

Pet insurance offers peace of mind and financial protection against increasing vet costs and surprise bills. There are many reasons a pet owner feels pet insurance is worth it. For instance, you might own a breed predisposed to hereditary or congenital conditions, have multiple pets with high vet costs or face the possibility of a pet health emergency. Most people decide if pet insurance is worth it after comparing premium prices to the amount of savings the plan could provide.

Is Pet Insurance Worth It for You? The Costs vs. the Benefits

No one is required to purchase pet insurance, and some people are fine without it. But many who skip it find themselves in a situation where they have to pay for unexpected vet costs that cause financial strain. Instead, these owners could have offset those high costs with a pet insurance plan.

 

REASONS NOT TO GET PET INSURANCE

 

You can self-fund care.

 

If you’re in a good financial situation, you can probably afford to pay for your pet’s health care. Some owners keep a separate fund they regularly contribute to for pet emergencies and vet care.

 

You have other financing opportunities.

 

Some vets offer financing options for large expenses that can help you save on significant health care costs.

 

Your pet is in good health.

 

If your pet is healthy and only sees the vet for routine care, pet insurance may not be worth the cost. If you opt not to buy pet insurance, consider starting a savings account for unexpected emergencies.

 

Pet owners with a healthy pet and strong finances may not think pet insurance is worth it. But, consider this: around 500,000 pets are economically euthanized each year because their owners cannot afford their care. You don’t know what the future holds, and if you’re ever in unfortunate financial circumstances, pet insurance could save your pet’s life.

 

For example, a cat suffering from megacolon requiring a colectomy could cost around $800. If you have insurance, you could save about $470 on veterinary costs, which could make it worth getting pet insurance for cats. Large and active dog breeds are prone to ACL tears, which can cost around $2,250 to repair. With a savings of roughly $1,775, you may find pet insurance is worth it for a dog as well.

POTENTIAL SAVINGS WITH PET INSURANCE FOR COMMON VETERINARY PROCEDURES

 

POTENTIAL SAVINGS WITH PET INSURANCE

One of the best ways to determine if dog or cat insurance is worth it is to consider the costs of different levels of veterinary care. Weighing the costs can help you decide if you should get pet insurance for your dog or cat.

Comparing the Costs of Routine Veterinary Care

Annual check-ups, vaccines, spay and neuter, dental cleanings and preventive medications are examples of preventive care. Routine vet care is often the cheapest veterinary cost, averaging $242 annually for dogs and $178 for cats, according to the American Pet Products Association.

 

If you have a young and healthy pet, the average yearly cost of pet insurance — $594.15 for accident and illness coverage for dogs and $341.81 for cats — may be higher than simply paying for routine care out of your pocket. Most pet insurers don’t include routine care as part of the pet insurance package. Instead, routine care coverage is sometimes available as an add-on option or standalone policy, which can cost anywhere from $5–$30 more per month.

Comparing the Costs of Pet Medical Emergencies

Pet emergencies are often the most expensive type of vet care, usually accompanied by large vet bills. The average cost for foreign object removal surgery is $2,000, but you can save about $1,550 with pet insurance. Emergency surgery could run as much as $7,000, with pet insurance standing to save you thousands, depending on the policy coverages. For medical emergencies, pet insurance may be worth the cost.

MONEYGEEK EXPERT TIP

Veterinary costs vary widely by location, and medical emergencies can cost thousands, especially if your pet is hospitalized. Most vets won’t finance in-house, putting many pet owners in a difficult financial position without insurance.

Comparing the Costs of Chronic Pet Illness

Chronic illnesses are usually not curable and last for a year or more. For instance, kidney failure can happen in both dogs and cats. The cost of an uncomplicated kidney transplant ranges from $12,000–$15,000. With pet insurance, pet owners could save thousands of dollars on this expensive operation, making pet insurance worth it for this chronic illness.

The Average Cost of Pet Insurance

The price you pay for pet insurance could add up to significant savings on veterinary care throughout the year. Each company has different coverage options, exclusions and limitations, with varying premium costs. Use the information below to help you decide if pet insurance is worth it for you and your pet.

The Cost of Pet Insurance Plans

The more coverage you want, the more you’ll pay for a pet insurance plan. MoneyGeek found that the average monthly cost for a low level of coverage with a $5,000 annual limit is $27.59 for dogs and $14.96 for cats. Cats are usually kept indoors and visit the vet less than dogs, so they are less risky to insure. On the other hand, dogs are more energetic and adventurous, so they are more prone to injuries and illnesses. The table below shows the average cost of pet insurance plans for dogs and cats with the most popular pet insurance companies.

 

Monthly cost of Pet Insurance

Common Pet Insurance Coverage Options

While pet insurance coverages vary by company, there are generally three levels of coverage to choose from.

Lower

Provides up to $5,000 of coverage per year

Average

Provides up to $10,000 of coverage per year

 

Though buying more coverage means you’ll pay more in premiums, your pet will also have more protection. A lower level of coverage may be ideal for a cat, but a dog that is always with you may benefit more from an unlimited plan. The deductible you choose also affects your pet insurance premium, with $250 and $500 being the most common deductibles. The lower your deductible, the less you pay out-of-pocket, but the more you pay for premiums.

What Pet Insurance Typically Covers

The pet insurance industry is not currently regulated, so there is no standard of coverage like you’ll find with human health insurance. Pet insurance coverage varies by company, so what one policy covers, another may not. Typically, there are three coverage types: accident and illness, accident-only and wellness plans. Accident and illness plans cover both types of vet care, while accident-only coverage excludes illnesses. Wellness plans cover routine and preventive maintenance, like vaccines and exam fees.

 

COMPARING PET INSURANCE

MONEYGEEK EXPERT TIP

Certain breeds are more susceptible to some conditions than others. For instance, Labradors are prone to hip and elbow dysplasia and cancer. Siamese cats tend to have respiratory problems, which can cause upper respiratory infections (URI).

Pet Insurance Frequently Asked Questions

MoneyGeek answers common questions about pet insurance plans that cover accidents, illnesses, emergencies and more. By understanding the answers to these frequently asked questions, you can make a more informed choice about pet insurance for your cat or dog.

Is pet insurance worth it?

You have to decide if pet insurance is worth it for your unique situation. To do that, consider the monthly or annual cost of pet insurance, as well as how much your vet would charge for pet care. If your out-of-pocket cost would be less with pet insurance, it may be worth it.

When is it OK not to get pet insurance?

You may not want pet insurance if you have the financial means to pay for pet care and can shoulder the cost of pet ownership on your own. Keep in mind, emergency vet care can cost thousands of dollars, making pet insurance worth the price.

What is pet insurance good for?

Pet insurance is good for covering the medical costs associated with accidents, illnesses and emergencies. Plan coverages vary by company, so make sure you understand what is and isn’t covered before deciding on a pet insurance provider.

What are the pros & cons of pet insurance?

Pet insurance can offer peace of mind, financial protection, various levels of coverage to meet most budgets and the option to choose your vet. However, pre-existing conditions aren’t covered, plans aren’t regulated and it can be expensive for certain breeds.

Do you need pet insurance before going to the vet?

If you want your visit to be covered, you do need pet insurance before going to the vet. Pet insurance doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions. If your pet is seen or treated for something before coverage is in effect (after the waiting period), it’s considered a pre-existing condition.

 

This article originally appeared on MoneyGeek.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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How to pamper your pets without blowing your paycheck

 

Any pet owner will tell you that the best thing they ever did was to get a pet. We just got a new bunny named Willow and I can’t tell you how great it’s been for my whole family. And apparently, getting a pet was a wise choice. Studies have shown that dog owners have more than a 20 percent lower chance of death, and my guess is that rabbit owners live even longer. 😉 The downside? Caring for our furry, feathered, and reptilian friends can be expensive.

Here are some easy ways to save money on things for your pet.

 

 

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At least at first, take the time to compare prices for pet food and other essentials at pet supply stores, the grocery store, big box stores, like Walmart and Target, and online (an easy way to do this is to go to Shopping.Google.com and enter the names of what you want.  If you’re ordering regularly, you might find that you’ll save the most if you take advantage of subscription and loyalty programs. For example, with Chewy’s AutoShip program you’ll save 30 percent on your 1st autoship order (20 percent off medicines) and then 5 percent thereafter. Amazon’s Subscribe and Save service offers up to 15 percent off your first order and then 5 percent thereafter.

 

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If you belong to a wholesale club, like Costco or Sam’s Club, see if they carry your preferred brands of food, litter, and other supplies. The wholesale price will very likely be lower than retail. There are also online wholesale retailers, like Bargain Wholesale and Boxed.com. Keep in mind, however, that if you have a small pet, a 50lb bag of food may not be your best bet. The food may expire or lose its freshness before your pet has the time to eat it all.

 

 

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When you’re buying your food and other supplies, get in the habit of checking the sale or clearance section for toys — they’re going to get destroyed anyway, so they don’t have to be in perfect condition. Online pet retailers, like Chewy, have Daily Deals or quantity deals, like Buy 3 Get 1 Free.

 

 

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Monthly boxes can be a convenient way to stock up on essentials. BarkBox allows you to customize the box, and you’ll get free extra toys if you sign up for multi-month deliveries. With Bullymake, you’ll save 40 percent off your 1st box–now only $23–and if you join their mailing list, save an additional $10. Chewy’s Goodie Boxes are for dogs and cats – they even have a “Birthday Box.” With PupBox, you can get training tips, toys, and treats, depending on your dog’s needs.

 

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If you’re a little handy, make your own pet toys and treats and save big. A simple Youtube search will result in countless tutorials and recipes.

 

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In my experience, the best deals for carriers and crates, are at online at etailers, like Chewy, Petsmart, and Amazon. In-store, especially in small pet stores, crates and carriers can be significantly more expensive. Also, avoid fancy crates. A friend spent a small fortune on a beautiful fabric and screen crate and her puppy destroyed it in a flash.

 

 

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Professional grooming can cost a fortune, so try – try, being the operative word – to do it yourself. And you may not be great at everything. Maybe you’re a whiz at baths and haircuts, but nail clipping and teeth cleaning is too much. At least you know that you’re saving money by doing some of the grooming yourself. And when it comes to baths, if you can DIY but don’t want the mess, see if there’s a self-service pet wash nearby. It will be cheaper than a pro bath and your bathroom will be spared.

Big box pet stores also offer in-store grooming and have coupons available like 20% off a bath or bath + haircut at Petco.

 

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This will be pricey even for a tiny bunny, but there are a couple things you can try. If you need ongoing service, ask if the service provider offers discounts for regular customers. There are also services, like DogVacay or Rover, where you can find local animal lovers to care for your pet in their own home.  This can be less expensive than boarding your pet at a facility.

 

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Shop around, ask your friends and neighbors which veterinarian they use and why. I found that a vet in a neighboring town had lower rates for visits, surgeries, and boarding, plus they were highly recommended! It’s a 20-minute drive, but the savings are worth the trip.

 

 

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If you get your medication from your veterinarian, be sure to ask for manufacturer’s coupons and rebates (they usually have a stack of them). Online stores all offer various savings plans and subscription services, so do a quick search to see who has the best deal for your pet’s meds. GoodRX and LowestMed have quick search options to help you compare pricing and find the best coupons. 1800PetMeds will honor a competitor’s price. With PetCareRX’s PetPlus plan members pay a $99 yearly subscription to get wholesale prices and free shipping — or you can pick up prescriptions at your local pharmacy! Allivet offers up to 70 percent off and you can save an additional 5 percent off with auto-ship.  Or try the Pet Drug Card, which is a free program. Just join and print your card to get up to 75 percent off your prescriptions at 60,000+ participating pharmacies.

 

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One of the first big medical expenses you’ll have for your pet is to have them spayed/neutered. You can save on spaying and neutering at one of PetSmart Charities’ approved clinics. Or, if you’re adopting a pet from the ASPCA or a local shelter, don’t rule out a pet that is already fixed.

 

 

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You can quickly find and compare policies with Pet Insurance Quotes or Pet Insurance Review. Discounts for multiple pets are available with Nationwide, Embrace Pet, and ASPCA Pet Health. Your homeowner’s insurance may also include pet coverage.

There are typically three types of pet insurance coverage: Wellness (for routine vet visits and vaccinations), Accident & Illness, and Accident-Only plans. Because premiums have increased in recent years, it’s common to purchase an Accident & Illness or Accident-Only policy because treatments for accidents and/or illnesses tend to be expensive.

When you’re shopping for insurance, pay close attention to the following:

●  Deductibles: you’ll pay per incident or yearly. If your pet is accident-prone, then a yearly deductible makes the most sense.

●  Reimbursement rate: the low end is 70 percent and the high end is 90 percent of costs

●  Maximum payout

Pet Insurance is typically reimbursement-based. This means that you must pay your vet or animal hospital first and then submit your receipts for reimbursement from your insurance company. Ideally, set aside some savings for pet-related expenses.

 

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If you can pay for your pet supplies, vet visits, and other pet-related expenses with a credit card, you can earn points towards cashback or airline miles, depending on the card. Your credit card may also have pet-related offers. In a recent email from American Express, I learned that I could save $15 off orders over $100 at PetMeds if I paid with my Amex card.

 

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I know I say this a lot, but it holds true for pet expenses, like so many others. On Slickdeals.net* when I searched “Pets”, I found dozens of deals on everything from treats to food at retailers, like Amazon, Target, Walmart, Chewy, and Petco. On Couponcabin.com*, there are many cashback offers and coupons. For example, at PetSafe, you can earn 7 percent off plus 6 percent bonus cash. I found a similar offer at PetCareRX. It’s worth the time to look for savings opportunities before you decide where to place your order!

 

Read more:

This article originally appeared on Truetrae.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

 

*The writer has a financial relationship with Slickdeals and CouponCabin.

 

 

adamkaz

 

 

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Featured Image Credit: Sandy L Smith.

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