Is Pet Insurance a Good Investment? Find Out Why the Answer Depends on YOU
Bringing a pet into your home brings joy, companionship,
love and a new friend for your entire family. And, inevitably,
it brings something that's not always thought about at first,
especially for new pet owners: veterinarian bills.
In the past five years alone, vet costs have risen 73 percent,
to a whopping $19 billion.
About 5 percent of U.S. pet owners have pet health
To combat the skyrocketing costs of caring for your pet's
health needs, pet health insurance companies offer all kinds
of plans for just about every pet. They operate a lot like
health insurance for humans, complete with deductibles, co-payments,
annual premiums and limitations for pre-existing conditions.
Depending on what you want (and your budget), you can choose
a full-coverage plan that will cover even routine care, or
a plan that's just there for emergencies or major procedures.
An estimated 1 percent of U.S. companies have even begun
to offer such coverage to employees. Rebecca Lewis, vice president
for marketing and communications at Veterinary Pet Insurance
Inc., said, "We've seen a real big interest from a corporate
standpoint. With unemployment low, benefits become a real
key part of retaining and obtaining new employees. The role
of the pet has truly evolved. Pets are seen more as a family
But is health insurance for Fido really a good investment?
The answer, it seems, depends not on your pet, but on you.
Who Should Get Pet Health Insurance?
An estimated 5 percent of U.S. pet owners have pet insurance,
according to American Demographics magazine -- an increase
of over 4 percent since 1995.
Like any kind of insurance, though, when you get health insurance
for your pet, you are gambling that your total expenses will
be higher than the amount you've paid in premiums, co-pays
and other costs. On average, pet insurance can cost between
$2,000 and $6,000 over the lifetime of your pet.
So, for someone who is prepared to do and spend anything
to save their pet's life, and would not think of having it
any other way, health insurance would be worthwhile. Keep
in mind, too, that these days treatments for pets have become
increasingly sophisticated. Maladies that would have been
fatal for pets just a few years ago can now be cured -- at
a price ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. Here are some of the
newer treatments to hit the veterinary world:
MRIs for screening
If you know that you would spend thousands of dollars for
medical procedures for your pet, should they arise, and spending
it could send you into debt or worse, you're likely a good
candidate for pet insurance.
If you opt for pet insurance, protect your pet by reading
the fine print
On the other hand, if you know you would stop treating your
pet if costs got too high, and instead put the animal to sleep,
pet insurance may not be worthwhile for you. Likewise if you
have ample savings to cover any health costs that may arise.
"About half see the pet as disposable. If it got really
ill they just wouldn't treat it. [The other half] were willing
to treat, whatever it took," said Jack Stephens, founder
of Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), which conducted research
on the issue.
Tips for Finding the Right Pet Insurance
So you've decided to go down the pet insurance route. Here
are some things to look out for when choosing your plan:
Plans vary widely based on species, age, pre-existing
conditions and lifestyle (indoor vs. outdoor). Take your
time to find the best plan for you and your pet.
Watch out for exclusions based on pre-existing and hereditary
conditions, such as hip dysplasia.
Some companies won't cover an animal over the age of
8 (unless covered prior to that age), and most charge
higher premiums for older animals.
Most policies have caps on how much will be paid out
annually, per incident, or over the pet's lifetime Watch
for these and compare them, along with co-pays and deductibles,
Choose a reputable company that's registered with your
Some companies offer discounts for multiple pets.
Get a Quick Pet Insurance Quote Now
To find a number of pet insurance companies, search
online for "pet health insurance." You can
also get a quick quote now from Veterinary Pet Insurance,
which says they are the "nation's oldest and largest
pet health insurance company."
a pet health insurance quote now!
If pet insurance is not for you, there are still methods
that can save you money while keeping your pet in good health.
Ask your vet for health/wellness packages. Some offer
discounts for vaccinations, spay/neuters or checkups for
Consider a discount program that offers 25 percent to
50 percent savings on pet care. Certain veterinarians
and pet vendors belong to such programs.
Some humane organizations offer financial aid for pet
Feed your pet the best food you can afford. As with humans,
low-quality food will make your pet more susceptible to
Humane societies, vets and other pet organizations often
offer low-cost clinics for vaccinations.
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