If your pet was hospitalized with a critical injury tomorrow, could you afford the bill?
Many of us consider our pets to be family, and of course – they are! With advancements in veterinary medicine over the past decade, we now have access to advanced medical care for our pets – including cancer treatment, advanced surgical procedures, and critical care that rivals human level medicine.
As wonderful as it is to be able to provide this life saving care for our fur friends, it certainly does not come cheap. Canine Journal estimates that the annual cost of pet care is topping $1800 per pet. So it’s no wonder that some families struggle financially with providing the kind of veterinary care they want for their pet.
Enter: pet insurance. Designed to bridge the gap between medical care and cost, pet insurance can offset the financial burden of unexpected injury or illness to our pets. But is the monthly cost worth it? The Pet Experts at Wheaton Animal Hospital delve into this question, so you can weigh the costs and benefits for yourself.
Pet Insurance 101
Unlike our preventive care plans, which are monthly plans to make wellness care more affordable, pet insurance was designed to help pet owners meet the cost of unexpected injury or illness. There are some pet insurance companies now who also will cover preventive care, such as exams, vaccinations, and dental cleanings. However these policies typically are more expensive on a monthly basis.
Most pet insurance companies expect pet owners to pay for veterinary services up front, and then submit the bills for reimbursement after care is complete. For this reason, many pet owners choose to have a Care Credit account as well, to cover these costs while the insurance company sends you the reimbursement amount.
Unlike in human medical insurance, pet insurance does not require that pet owners choose a specific provider – meaning your pet’s policy will cover visits to any veterinarian your pet needs, including an emergency clinic or specialist.
Comparing Apples to Apples
There are now many pet insurance companies offering coverage, so it’s smart to do a little research before you select one. To pick a plan that works for your financial situation is a personal decision, but if you compare apples to apples you’ll be on the right track.
- Monthly costs (premium amounts)
- Deductible amounts
- Limits (age, lifetime, per incident)
- Exclusions (breed, congenital)
- Waiting periods (some policies require time before the policy kicks in)
- Payout maximums
- Add on costs
- Pre-existing conditions
You may also want to consider customer service and online reviews when selecting the plan that is right for you and your pet.
Many employers are now offering pet insurance plans as a part of their employee benefits package, so check in with your company to see if this is the case for you.
No insurance company covers pre-existing conditions. So it makes sense to sign your pet up as soon as possible, (as a puppy or kitten is ideal) before any pre-existing conditions (that won’t be covered) arise.
Peace of Mind Is Priceless
For some, the peace of mind that a pet insurance policy can provide is simply priceless. Pet insurance could very well save your pet’s life. If your pet has a critical injury, or receives a cancer diagnosis, having a pet insurance policy can allow you to focus on your pet’s medical care, rather than how you will pay for treatment.
If you have questions about pet insurance, please contact us. Many of our team members have pet insurance policies for their own pets, and we’re happy to share our experiences with the different companies.