Health insurance isn’t just for humans. It’s frequently possible to get a veterinary insurance policy on your pet. Dogs and cats ┬ádon’t tend to rack up bills of the same magnitude as their owners, but they can still be quite hard on the average family’s wallet. The following is a frank look at health insurance for pets, to see whether or not it would be a good fit for your pet and their needs.

Reasons You Might Want Pet Health Insurance

Happy dog owner kissing him on the headYou might consider health insurance if you have a pet that is particularly exotic or long-lived. Exotic pets cost more to take care of at most stages, and medical care isn’t an exception. If your dog or cat has the potential to live a long and healthy life, it is almost inevitable that you will be taking them to the veterinarian on a fairly regular basis. If this is the case, health insurance may be a good idea. Premiums tend to be high, but if you need to undergo more than three or four veterinary visits in a year, the costs tend to balance themselves out quickly. Another consideration might be that you want to avoid any huge veterinary bills in the future. Illnesses such as cancer, procedures such as surgeries, and animals being hit by moving vehicles can be quite costly. The question you have to ask yourself is if you have $5,000 available to pay for these items out of pocket, or would you rather spend a smaller portion on an insurance policy to balance your risk?

Reasons You Might Skip Pet Insurance

You might not wish to pursue health insurance if your pet is short-lived or known to be fragile of health. This is not intended as a cruelty, but the fact is that many smaller pets, such as rats and hamsters, have much narrower windows between injury, disease and death than larger, hardier animals do. In many cases, taking out an insurance policy won’t actually help you preserve their health, because any illness or injury will be too catastrophic.

You shouldn’t pursue an insurance policy if you won’t be able to take care of the premiums. Veterinary insurance premiums can be quite high, even if the monthly cost is relatively low. Investigate your potential premiums carefully, as you will need to confront them if you intend to actually get any benefit out of your policy. They are the most likely aspects of insurance policies to fluctuate.

What The Policies Cover

All pet insurance companies will have a list of covered and non-covered items in their policy. Fact is, they will all likely have some similarities but they will definitely differ in the details. Your job will be to look at each of the coverage options in detail. Generally speaking, most (but not all) will cover normal vet office visits, wellness care, as well as cover the costs of illnesses and injury. You also shouldn’t be surprised in that most of the policies will not cover pre-existing conditions.

What Companies Offer Pet Insurance?

Believe it or not, there are several large players in this field. Some of the big names are Healthy Paws, Pet Plan, and PetFirst. Another company that many dog or cat owners seem to prefer is Embrace Insurance. I would recommend you do your due diligence on these companies and determine what the policy would cover, what they cost, and whether or not it makes financial sense for you to buy coverage. In doing research, it appears that most of these companies will offer you a policy on your animal up until age 14 (although this differs by a year or two based on company).

Veterinary Insurance Versus Credit Payments

The most common alternative to insurance for pets is a to pursue a credit-based solution. This will allow you to pay their entire bill when the veterinarian requires it, and then pay it off in installments thereafter. In many cases, veterinary offices have financing options, but they tend not to be very competitive with respect to insurance rates so a credit option may be better from a perspective of long-term cost.

Credit solutions are preferable to insurance in some ways in that they do not cost any money to upkeep as long as they remain unused. There are no premiums to pay. However, they will not actually defray the cost of a veterinary bill in the way that insurance can, so individuals expecting bills in the future may find this doesn’t function as a sufficient stopgap. However, for individuals that cannot afford insurance premiums, this can be an ideal alternative that will still allow them to be prepared for the worst with their pets.

Summing It Up

With so many competing financial needs, getting insurance for your dog or cat might not make sense for everyone. However, if you are an animal owner and lover, and want to try to limit any large out of pocket veterinary bills, then pet insurance might be something you should consider. It’s just another piece of an overall financial puzzle.

Jason

Founder of FinancialSumo.com, his writing has appeared on many financial, entrepreneurial and small biz sites across the internet. When not writing, Jason enjoys spending time with his family in San Diego.
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