Is Insurance Right for My Pet?
Most people rely on insurance to cover medical bills. But, did you know that there are insurance plans available for pets as well? While they may not be right for every pet owner, insurance plans can help to pay for unexpected veterinary bills and even for vaccines and well visits depending on the plan. Let’s learn more about pet insurance!
How does pet insurance work? Insurance for veterinary bills works more like car insurance than health insurance. You typically pay a monthly fee for your pet’s insurance plan and there is a deductible that must be met. You pay your vet, then submit a claim for reimbursement. There is often a waiting period before the plan goes into effect and pre-existing conditions are not covered. There is usually a per incident or an annual maximum reimbursement allowance. Essentially, you’re paying for something that you hope not to have to use, but it’s there as a safety net should unexpected medical bills arise. Plans vary, but the average cost is $15-50 per month depending on the type of pet and the type of coverage purchased.
Is one plan better than another? Not necessarily. It really depends on the company and whether you are choosing an accident plan that cover illness or emergency-type problems or a plan that includes items like vaccines, parasite preventatives and other wellness options. Do some research to see what best fits your and your pet’s needs and budget. There are many purveyors of pet insurance, but these four are reputable and well known: PetPlan, Nationwide, Trupanion, and the ASPCA.
Are there restrictions on what is covered? Yes—there are restrictions based on hereditary and pre-existing medical conditions. If purchasing insurance, it makes the most sense to purchase a plan when your pet is young. Insurance plans will not cover a condition if the plan is purchased after an illness or accident occurs or for a pre-existing condition. There may also be higher costs for certain breeds or for older pets. Plans do not generally cover pregnancy/birthing costs, preventable/vaccinatable illnesses, behavior issues or grooming costs.
What kinds of things does pet insurance cover? Most plans will cover diagnostics, medications, exam fees associated with an illness or accident as well as many surgery and hospital fees. The average cost of removing a foreign object from the intestinal tract is $2500-3500. Orthopedic procedures and hospital stays are usually in the same range. Treatment for toxins or other emergency visits can average $1500 or more just for diagnostics and treatments. No one wants any of these events to happen to their pets, but it pays to be prepared for the unthinkable so your pet can receive the best possible care in the event of an emergency or unexpected injury or illness.
Is pet insurance worth it? Are there alternatives? There is no easy answer to this question. For many people, pet insurance is a godsend if an emergency arises. Insurance often allows for better care than paying for all costs out of pocket. However, you may be paying for a plan that you never or seldom use, so putting the money you would spend on an insurance plan into a savings account for your pet or applying for a credit card like Care Credit may be a more appealing option to help pay for any veterinary bill from a mundane vaccine visit to a serious illness. Again, do research and see what works best for your family and your fur babies. Whatever you do, it helps to think about budgeting for veterinary care and unforeseen circumstances involving your pets so you’re not caught short if an emergency arises.
Our office has information on several insurance companies so, if you need more information, just ask!
This blog brought to you by the Patton Veterinary Hospital serving Red Lion, York and the surrounding communities.