Is Pet Insurance Worth It?

April 20, 2016

You've made sure your pet is spayed or neutered and all its vaccinations are up to date, but as we all know, there’s more we can do to make man’s best friend the healthiest they can be. When your fluffy  companion gets sick or injured, it's off to the veterinarian where you could end up facing a big bill. You may have considered buying pet insurance, but you're not sure it's worth the added expense to your monthly budget. Check out some of the need-to-know facts about pet insurance to help you decide if it fits into your financial plan.

The Changing Face of Veterinary Medicine

Veterinarians were mostly general practitioners at one time, doing everything from diagnostics to surgery at clinics or even on house calls. Some vets specialized in small animals — mostly dogs and cats — while others looked after livestock, especially in rural areas.

Veterinary medicine today is just as complex as human medicine, with some vets seeking additional training for specialties like dentistry, dermatology, internal medicine or surgery. With the advent of increased technology comes an increase in veterinary fees and potentially a need for pet insurance.

Sample Veterinary Ailment Costs

Some of the most expensive canine ailments include cancers and cardiac problems, costing thousands of dollars to treat. Hip dysplasia, a hip-joint problem that often requires surgery, may run up to $6,000. Stomach bloat can cost between $1,500 and $7,000 per incident. This may involve anything from treating the ingestion of poisons to performing surgery to remove a foreign object. 

Cat veterinary expenses are usually less, but they can still put the family budget into overdrive. Common issues include bladder stones and tooth extraction, both averaging more than $900 to treat. Cats get various forms of cancer as well, which can cost up to $1,500 to treat, and cataracts, which may cost up to $3,000 per eye.

Average Pet Insurance Costs

According to PetInsuranceQuotes.com, an American independent pet insurance agency, the average cost of pet insurance is $32 a month for dogs and $22 for cats as of 2015. The state you live in and the age, health and breed of your animal affect the price. German Shepherds average $39 a month because of the breed's tendency toward hip dysplasia.

Boxers, which are prone to cancer, average $44 a month. Mixed breed dogs are the least expensive to insure, averaging $28 a month. Cats are less expensive all around, but there are exceptions. Persians have a tendency toward breathing and eye problems and insurance for them averages $29 a month.

How Pet Insurance Works

Pet insurance may reimburse up to 90 percent of your total veterinary costs for accidents and illnesses, depending on the policy and the company you select. You must pay the veterinarian up front then submit a claim. Accident-and-illness and accident-only policies are available. A routine care rider can be added to cover regular checkups, vaccinations, or spays and neuters. If your pet is already spayed or neutered, the latter plan may not be worth it. 

Also something to consider is pet insurance does have deductibles, usually between $100 and $1,000. The higher the deductible, the less expensive the coverage. Waiting periods govern how soon you may be able to use the policy, and annual limits determine the amount you can collect within a 12-month period. No matter what policy you choose, plan on budgeting an extra emergency fund to help pay for up-front expenses.

It’s never easy deciding to take on another bill, but combining these facts with a financial management program, like Quicken, can help you figure out if insurance for your furry friend is the right choice for you!

References

 

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