Pet Insurance? That’s a thing? What is it?

Pet insurance acts as a healthcare policy for your furry friends. Most are paid on scheduled monthly payment plans and cost roughly a few hundred dollars a year depending on your breed, age and location. For example, the pet insurance for a greyhound will be significantly cheaper when compared to a bulldog. The pricing will also depend on where you live and your pet’s age as well; a puppy is cheaper than an old hound.

Pet insurance acts as a safety net in case of emergency and high medical fees. With the right policy, an unplanned injury or illness will only act as a monetary speed bump and not an unfortunate reason to put your pet down. You will still have to pay upfront for most insurance policies but you will be reimbursed for a large majority of the costs.

This may seem like an unnecessary cost, but an emergency situation can break your bank. Animals and disease are unpredictable; a cancer diagnosis or severe injury—like being hit by a car—can cost thousands of dollars for care.

Here are a few things to consider when deciding if pet insurance is right for you:

To start, if you decide to get pet insurance, make sure you do this immediately when your pet is a baby. This way your pet will be covered at a cheaper rate if they do develop any chronic conditions along the way.

Not everything is covered in pet insurance. Here’s a list of what’s excluded—or will require additional coverage and costs—on most pet insurance plans:

  • Pre-existing conditions: these are illnesses your pet shows before your coverage begins, including conditions they develop. This is why it’s important to insure your fur-baby early.
  • Preventative, elective and cosmetic procedures: these are essentially procedures where the pet can live a normal life without it or procedures that the owner could have prevented such as illness caused by a lack of vaccinations.
  • Boarding and grooming.
  • Food, including prescription food.

What is covered under pet insurance will depend on the plan you choose. Most basic coverage includes:

  • Illnesses, small to large, including chronic illness and sudden illnesses such as cancer. This is why purchasing pet insurance immediately is important. A chronic illness they develop beforehand isn’t covered, but the chronic condition you didn’t see coming is.
  • Hereditary and congenital conditions they might not have as puppies, but can develop with age.
  • Hospitalizations
  • Accidental injuries, such as being hit by a car.
  • Necessary surgeries
  • MRI, CT Scans, X-Rays, etc.
  • After-hours emergencies
  • Visits to specialists

Some conditions will require additional coverage:

  • Behavioral therapies
  • Loss due to theft or straying
  • Boarding kennel fees
  • Non-natural death
  • Vacation cancellation (think boarding fees)

Some plans can be special for specific injuries such as accidents. Accident-only plans can cover broken bones, car accidents, or wounds caused by the pet themselves or other animals. Pet owners also have the option for Wellness Routine Care plans, which cover vaccinations, annual check-ups, and flea, tick and heart-worm preventative treatments. These wellness plans benefit both parties as they save pet-owners and insurance companies down the road.

Ultimately, your pet insurance option comes down to your choice. The owner’s lifestyle also plays a large role. For instance, a stay-at-home family will likely not need the same coverage as a family or pet owner who enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking and camping. Pet owners should also consider the reimbursement options they want. A pet with low health issues will likely need fewer trips to the vet and the owner may only need a 70 percent reimbursement option. Whereas an animal with greater health issues, like a bulldog, will be more costly and i a 90 percent reimbursement option is more ideal.