Health - especially in the past couple of years - has been on a lot of our minds. There are so many more things to worry about on a daily basis from keeping distance, to flu season, to medical costs of any kind.
And that’s just us!
When it comes to our fur babies, we know to take them to the vet once a year for shots and check-ups. Aside from that, most of us hope for the best then deal with any emergency costs when they come up.
For any of us who have suddenly found ourselves at a surprise vet visit, though, we know that those emergency costs can quickly add up. Especially when we are willing to do whatever it takes to help our pup feel their best.
Insurance has become more available for people, and likewise insurance for pets has seemingly been cropping up all over. It’s not cheap by the month, so at the end of the day is it worth it?
How does pet insurance work?
Pet insurance and human insurance aren’t completely unalike. They both have different levels of protection that cover different health needs and cost different amounts.
The lower level might be like thinking about liability insurance on a car. It would cover accidents and certain types of injuries.
Higher up plans might begin to include genetic conditions, age-related illnesses, and so on. And like people insurance, the more thorough the coverage the more expensive the plan will be.
It’s common for pet insurance to have a deductible, or amount that you have to reach out of pocket on health expenses before the insurance does its thing. On average these deductibles can range anywhere from 0 and kicking in immediately to $2,500.
Most insurance that we as people use works around a co-pay, or paying a certain amount for doctor’s visits with the insurance taking on the rest. Pet insurance, however, tends to work mostly around reimbursement. This just means that you would pay the full amount due then send in a claim after the vet visit to get paid some money back based on your specific policy.
How much does pet insurance cost?
When it comes down to the cost, it’s really a tricky question. Cost will vary based on a variety of factors, such as what type of dog you have, how old they are, and how much coverage you want (only accidents versus the whole shebang).
As of June 2021, according to the Penny Hoarder, the average monthly cost between the top 11 pet insurance companies was $42.45 a month to get your pup covered. Bear in mind, you will still have to pay vet and medical pet costs until you reach your plan’s deductible.
Pet insurance: the good
So what are some of the benefits of having pet insurance?
Getting started early is cheaper. Much like insurance for a young and healthy person is going to be cheaper than for someone who is older and already having health issues, the same goes for dogs.
If you get health insurance for your pooch when they are young, it’s going to be much, much cheaper than waiting until it might be more necessary. Plus, you know you’ll have protection in case anything unexpected happens.
Deductibles aren’t actually too bad. If anyone has wound up in the vet’s office in the middle of the night after their pup got into something they shouldn’t have, you’ll know how quickly the bills can stack.
If your pup ends up really injured, sick, or in any other situation that hopefully would never happen, you at least know that past a certain money amount your fur baby is covered. It at least takes one piece of stress off the table during an otherwise stressful time.
It’s much easier to compare than people insurance. If you’ve ever shopped for your own health insurance policy, you’ll probably already know how big of a pain it can be. There are piles of fine print, fancy terms, and a lot to understand.
In contrast, pet insurance is actually pretty straightforward. Policies are much easier to compare and companies are happy to give out no-commitment quotes. It lets shopping around and making the right choice for you much simpler.
“Out of network” isn’t a thing. With human insurance, finding a policy is only the beginning. Past that, you have to find a doctor you like in the same network or hope your current doctor accepts your insurance company. It can get to be a real pain.
With pet insurance, there is no ‘in’ or ‘out’ of network. You simply send the bill to your pet’s insurance company after the visit and get reimbursed. Done and done!
It helps with big cost surprises. For the most part, pet insurance isn’t for the yearly shots or check-ups. Most people get it to deal with the really big and unexpected things that can happen.
If a sudden bill is too big and overwhelming, it has happened where some pet owners have made the difficult decision to go with an “economic euthanasia.”
Having pet insurance means that cost doesn’t have to be an obstacle to being able to treat and heal your pup in the event of an emergency.
Pet insurance: the less great
Older pets are pricier. If your pooch is more mature or has an existing condition, the monthly plan price could get overwhelming. An older dog could start at $40 a month upward.
It’s no surprise that as dogs get older they will begin to suffer more health issues, which is when you really want the cost offset aside from emergencies.
You have to be able to decide if it’s something you can afford for your older doggo and if it’s worth it for you both.
You’re still responsible for paying up front. As mentioned before, pet insurance doesn’t do co-pay. So you have to pay the full vet bill then submit it to the insurance company for reimbursement.
The big takeaway here being that you still need to have enough money on hand at the time of the vet visit or emergency. If you don’t, insurance doesn’t fill the gap.
There are limits to what is covered. A lot of plans have limits to what you can claim. Some of them are limited over the year - such as you can’t make ten broken leg claims in one year. Others are limited over the life of your pup - such as in that instance you can’t make ten broken leg claims over the course of your pup’s life.
It varies based on the plan but if your pooch unfortunately experiences a number of medical woes or a major catastrophe, you could end up maxing out your plan fairly quickly.
If nothing bad happens, you don’t save any money. This is really a pro and a con. None of us want anything bad to happen to our doggos. The idea of things going smoothly is what we would hope for!
Of course, if that’s the case we really won’t save any money by having pet insurance.
If your plan costs the average of $42.45 a month, in one year you will have spent $509.40. You can look at your normal yearly pet costs to decide whether that’s more of less than you’d usually spend. Remember, this is on top of your regular vet costs.
So what’s the pet insurance tea?
At the end of the day, we can’t know whether or not our beloved dogs will have a health emergency. And it’s not really about saving money on a monthly basis; it’s about having a net in case of a crisis.
Surprise pet medical costs can get wildly pricey, and if it’s unexpected it may be hard to have the funds to spare. Having pet insurance can help ensure that you are taken care of in terms of not going into debt. It also means your fur baby being taken care of in terms of getting the care they need.
The final answer will really depend on you and your pooch’s personal situation, but our take is it’s definitely worth looking into. Get the information and see how it fits into your life. But we pay our own health, home, and car insurance hoping that nothing will happen but being prepared in case it does. It only makes sense we’d do the same for our best doggo friends.
For more doggie photos and pup-related fun, follow us on Instagram at @joyrideharness. And for a more detailed blog post about finding the best size dog harness for your pup, check out this blog post!