To a pet owner, having a sick animal family member is a worst-case scenario. Besides not being able to explain to the pet what’s going on, or communicate to them with words to find out what’s wrong, pet owners may run into financial challenges.
Pet insurance can reduce some of the costs of animal care, but people still understandably wonder if it’s a worthwhile purchase.
Pet Insurance Is a Widely Available Product
There’s no doubt taking a pet to the vet could leave you with an expensive bill. In 2014, pet owners spent $15 billion on veterinary care. However, about $870 million of that amount reflected money spent on pet insurance. Those statistics demonstrate pet insurance is a product people are willing to buy. You’ve probably seen application forms in veterinary offices and maybe even supermarkets.
However, as popular as this type of insurance is, it’s not appropriate for all pets.
It May Not Be Useful If Your Pet Has a Pre-Existing Condition
If you’ve ever filled out an application for health insurance, you may have noticed fine print explaining how, if you have a pre-existing condition, there may be certain restrictions in the amount of coverage available. Your policy may read “Covered, with exclusions.” The situation is similar for pet insurance.
Even if your pet has a condition that’s well-managed through regular vet visits and careful home care, you may find the animal is not eligible for coverage at all, or treatments related to the pre-existing condition cannot be billed to the insurer.
Coverage Costs Go Up as Pets Get Older
Your pet’s age is something else to consider as you weigh whether or not pet insurance would be useful. After the animal reaches the age of four, it’s likely your coverage costs will go up every year thereafter. Theoretically, as a pet gets older, he or she is more likely to need medical care.
The cost for coverage rises as your pet enjoys more and more years of life, because insurers generally see older pets as greater risks.
Some Things Aren’t Covered
When buying pet insurance, it’s important to understand what you’re getting. Some people assume every catastrophe will be covered. They might show up at a vet’s office after a rambunctious puppy has swallowed a potentially dangerous item, then be shocked to find out it’s not covered by insurance.
Before picking a plan for your pet, take care to read all the stipulations for your policy. You’ll probably find there are certain instances where the insurance won’t come into effect. It’s up to you to decide how likely those non-covered scenarios are to occur, and figure out, based on that information, whether the plan is generally worth your money.
Even Covered Treatments Come With Limitations
Some pet owners forget to see if their pet insurance policies contain something called a “lifetime cap.” It specifies the maximum amount of coverage a pet can get under a certain policy throughout his or her life.
That means, if you hit the lifetime cap amount and your pet is still alive, there’s no need to keep paying for your pet insurance policy. If you haven’t yet hit the cap, keep in mind that when paying for a treatment covered through your pet’s plan, the usual process is to submit payment through your veterinarian, and then file an insurance claim.
There’s no clear-cut answer if you’re wondering whether to use some of your hard-earned money to buy pet insurance for a faithful, furry friend. Fortunately, though, there are many reputable companies to buy from.
If you do decide pet insurance is right for you, shopping for a plan is simple. After reviewing the information above, it may be useful to consult with a veterinarian to get advice about your pet’s current and future health needs, plus whether insurance might help cover them.
Image via: Radek Skrzypczak/ Tookapic