Is Pet Health Insurance Worth It?

Pet insurance can help provide for the much-needed costs of medical treatment, but is it worth the cost?


For most of us, going without health insurance is unimaginable. We wouldn’t even think about risking our families’ well being without it. So, why not protect one of our most beloved family members—our pets?

When choosing veterinary care for our pets, we want to provide the best care possible. And we want to do so without concern for the costs that are associated with quality care. Pet insurance can help with this dilemma, insuring that we’re financially prepared should accidents or illness strike.

Pet health insurance policies are much like human health insurance policies, protecting against illnesses, accidents and emergencies. They offer different plans based on desired coverage. Premiums can be paid monthly, some as low as $20 a month. Benefit limits, deductibles, and the amount of coverage will vary based on the policy premium you choose.

Many policies include coverage for medical treatments such as lab fees, x-rays, pet medications, and surgeries. More comprehensive policies cover a wider range of ordinary services such as physical exams, teeth cleaning, vaccinations, spay/neuter surgeries, and more.

Unlike your HMO, pet health insurance differs from your typical human healthinsurance in its simplicity. You see a licensed veterinarian of your choice. His or her veterinary staff fills out the proper insurance form. You then pay forservice at the time of your visit (no-co pays). Soon after, you are reimbursed by your insurance provider.

There are a few things to consider when choosing the best pet insurance plan. As with many other insurance products, all insurers are not created equal. In addition to affordability it’s important to choose a quality company that will be around to provide the promised coverage should an emergency arise.

Animal health insurance is not always the “do all end all.” Many policies cap out the limit that they will insure. This can be particularly limiting in cases where costly specialty veterinary care is desired. It is also common for insurers to limit coverage relating to hereditary and pre-existing conditions, such as hip dysplasia, which is common in some of the larger dog breeds.

For obvious reasons you can expect to pay higher amounts when insuringolder animals. Starting a pet insurance policy with animals in their puppyhood or kittenhood can result in more reasonable premiums. Some veterinary pet insurance companies don’t have age limits, but you’ll certainly pay an extra premium to cover the increased health risk associated with geriatric pets.
Some insurance companies, however, won’t even insure after 9 years of age, though they’ll insure indefinitely, if coverage was in place before the specified age restrictions.

Make sure to do some thorough research when getting a pet insurance quote. It is not uncommon for some of the lesser pet insurance companies to deny coverage based on overly restrictive policy stipulations. It is equally important to understand just what your policy covers. That way you’ll have no costly surprises and a good financial grasp of the situation when consulting with your veterinarian.

In most cases, and at the very least, it’s advisable to take the affordable approach and insure against catastrophe. This seems to be the area where most people have the biggest pet insurance needs. You should be able to find an appropriate insurer and policy based on your specific financial needs.

When the cost of care gets too expensive all too often the choice is euthanasia. Thanks to the affordability that pet health insurance allows, it no longer has to be that way. For those insured who aren’t forced to make that choice, it’s more than worth it. After all, if something were to happen to your cat or dog, it’s nice to be secure in the knowledge that you have provided the best of care, not having based your decision on how much it was going to cost.