Updated - May 6, 2022
Did you know that about 68% of households in America have pets? That’s 85 million families. At the time we updated this article in May of 2022, that number has increased to 70% of families. That's 90 million families.
If you’re reading this article, chances are you have a furry friend at home, too.
Owning a pet is a huge responsibility, as you probably already know. Aside from the responsibility of regular routines, walks, feeding times, and grooming, the financial responsibility alone could be a heavy burden.
Because of this, you may have already wondered, “is pet insurance worth it?“
Think about this:
Heaven forbid something bad were to happen to your pet, are you prepared for the financial responsibility? Vet bills can cost thousands of dollars in an emergency situation. And, as any experienced pet owner will tell you, emergencies do happen.
Owning a pet is about the equivalent of raising a three-year-old that never grows up. They put things in their mouth that they shouldn’t, they run in the streets if you don’t watch them, and they try to eat everything from dirt to batteries.
As much as we wish we could, it’s impossible to stay with your pet every minute of every day. We just have to do our best to keep them safe.
This is why most experienced pet owners will tell you to open a pet insurance policy.
Read on to learn more about pet insurance and see if it’s right for you and your furry friend.
What Is Pet Insurance?
First off, let’s talk about what pet insurance is.
Pet insurance is not that different from people insurance. In a nutshell, you will sign a contract with the insurance company that says you will pay an agreed-upon premium in exchange for coverage of any agreed-upon medical expenses that your pet may incur.
Just like people insurance, pet insurance has premiums, deductibles, and claims.
Depending on the pet insurance policy that you choose, pricing and coverage can vary. This can be especially helpful, as you don’t have to try to squeeze into a one size fits all plan.
What Does Pet Insurance Cover?
Pet insurance coverage can be anything from emergencies only to coverage of routine medical care.
Typically, pet insurance plans will cover routine checkups and routine vaccinations.
Before choosing a pet insurance policy, you might want to have a conversation with your vet. Certain breeds in dogs, for example, can be pre-disposed to certain medical conditions.
A purebred German Shepherd has a higher chance of developing heart disease during old age. A dachshund will have a higher risk of spinal damage or back pain during old age.
Knowing whether or not your pet has increased risk of disease will help you choose the best pet insurance coverage for now and in the future.
Like all things, pet insurance has its pros and cons. Let’s take a quick look at each side of the pet insurance debate.
Emergencies Are a No Brainer
This is arguably one of the most important reasons to open a pet insurance policy.
If your pet had somehow escaped and wandered onto the road and was struck by a car, the last thing that you want to go through your mind is, “Can I afford this? “
No matter how careful you are, emergencies can and will happen. All it takes is one person to drop a chicken wing and your little Chihuahua could grab it and swallow it whole, blocking its air flow.
In the event that something like this does happen, most veterinarians don’t offer any kind of payment plan. So if you’re not prepared to drop a few thousand dollars at any given time on your pet, an insurance policy might be worth it.
An emergency situation should never be a debate, and with pet insurance, it doesn’t have to be.
Premiums Are Low
A common misconception about pet insurance is that it’s very expensive. This could not be farther from the truth.
The fact is that you can pretty much choose how much you want to pay for your premium.
Premiums can start as low as the cost of a meal. While the more coverage you have, the higher your premium will be, it is possible to get decent coverage at lower costs.
Deductibles Are Reasonable
On top of low premiums, deductibles tend to be pretty reasonable as well.
A policy might not be worth it if your deductible is $2000. Luckily, most pet insurance policies have deductibles in the low hundreds range.
Now that we’ve looked at a few pros on the pet insurance argument, it’s time to analyze the cons.
You Might Not Use It
Best case scenario, you’ll never actually use your pet insurance.
It’s true if you never use your insurance plan you could consider it a waste of money. You could’ve spent that extra cash on vacation or built up your savings account.
While no one wants to see their pet get sick, it's hard to watch that hard earned money disappear every month.
It Doesn’t Cover 100% of Medical Costs
No matter what coverage plan you choose, you will likely still be responsible for some of the medical costs.
As a matter of fact, the average pet owner with insurance will still pay around 20% of the medical expenses.
Pet owners can also expect to pay out of pocket in some situations. Of course, if the medical expenses are covered by the insurance policy, you will be reimbursed either partly or fully.
This is often a disadvantage because many people think since they have a policy, they won't need savings to account for veterinarian expenses.
This can leave many pet owners in a sticky situation.
Premiums Could Be High
This is the disadvantage of having a low premium. Typically, if your premium is low it won’t cover a lot of medical costs.
For example, if you opted for a cheaper plan with a lower premium, you might only get coverage for emergency situations. While your insurance would cover things like car accidents and seriously upset tummies, it wouldn't cover the cost of long-term treatments.
Hip dysplasia is very common in older dogs and can cost close to $8,000. Chemotherapy can cost more than $5,000 and glaucoma is about $6,000. If you chose to pay a higher premium monthly then your insurance plan would likely cover these costs.
Having a plan with a higher premium and more coverage will likely benefit you and your pet in the long run more than a plan with a cheaper premium. Unfortunately, premiums can get pricey if you're not careful.
2 Important Things You Didn’t Know About Pet Insurance
There are a lot of myths floating around the internet in regards to pet insurance. We are going to clear up the air and debunk the most important ones right now.
Here are a couple of things that you didn't know you didn't know about pet insurance.
Anyone Can Qualify
Unlike people insurance, any pet can qualify for pet insurance.
No matter how old, young, or unhealthy your pet is, you can still qualify for an insurance policy. Of course, you may have a higher premium or deductible, but at least you will still be able to qualify for a plan.
It's easy to think that a brand new puppy is perfectly healthy and doesn't need an insurance plan, but have you ever considered what would happen if that puppy broke its leg? Or accidentally ate some gum off the street?
What about the older dog that's developing arthritis? This pre-existing condition doesn't disqualify your pet from a policy.
You Can Use Any Veterinarian You Like
You might feel discouraged when considering pet insurance because someone told you that you would have to change veterinarians. You finally found the perfect vet that gets you and your pet, and your pet gets them.
The good news is that you can use any licensed vet of your choosing. Even if the veterinarian of your choice doesn't accept insurance, you can always file a claim later for reimbursement.
You never have to worry about finding in-network coverage.
So, Is Pet Insurance Worth It?
What do you think? Is pet insurance worth it?
Our thoughts on the matter are simple. If you have insurance on yourself then you should have insurance on your pet. If your neighbor didn’t have health insurance and you would warn them to open a policy, why wouldn’t you open one for your best friend?
There's no waiting when it comes to the health of your pet. Get a free quote now to get started.
If you’re considering looking for pet insurance for a friend that’s not so furry, check out this article on pet insurance for exotic animals.