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Is pet insurance for older animals a smart buy?

According to CNBC, the cost of a sudden veterinary visit ranges from around $800 to $1,500, which many Americans just can’t afford. Over 27 percent of Americans would have to borrow money or sell some of their belongings if faced with an unexpected expense of $400 or more, while 12 percent of Americans would have no recourse at all.

Depending on your pet’s age, breed, and location, the cost of pet insurance is roughly $40 monthly. Younger pets typically have less-expensive premiums, but considering an accident and injury plan will cover 70 to 90 percent of your pet’s medical bills, having pet insurance might be a good option.

How many pets have pet insurance?

Gray and white tabby kitten on a sofa.

While roughly 40 percent of Swedish pets and 25 percent of pets in the United Kingdom have pet health insurance, only around 1 percent of Americans buy pet insurance. According to a study conducted by the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA), 46 percent of veterinarians asked did not recommend pet insurance, while the remaining veterinarians surveyed voted in favor of it.

Many pet owners consider pet insurance well worth the money. In 2017, pet owners spent upward of $1 billion on pet insurance with 1.8 million pets covered nationwide, an increase of 23 percent over 2016’s figures. By the end of 2018, the number of pets covered by insurance went up an additional 17 percent. That’s 2.8 million pets with insurance, with dogs representing nearly 90 percent of the insured pet population.

Which company has the best rates for pet insurance?

According to NAPHIA, there are 12 pet insurance companies operating nationwide. Determining the best company for your pet depends on a few things, namely age, breed, and preexisting health conditions, which aren’t covered by all pet insurance companies. Pet Assure does cover preexisting conditions, but it doesn’t offer prescription coverage, and it only covers around 25 percent of your total vet bill.

Some pet insurance companies, like 24PetWatch, offer lifetime-protection plans, but there’s an age limit for cats and dogs. If you prefer a more holistic approach, Figo offers 24/7 virtual visits, acupuncture, and you can take your pet to any licensed veterinarian. The downside with Figo is that it only offers one main plan and one rider plan, and you’ll have to cover the cost of exam fees yourself.

Does it make sense to have pet insurance?

According to financial advisor Brittany Castro, pet insurance makes the most sense if your pet is young and the cost of their insurance premium is lower for you. Pet insurance definitely makes sense for medical expenses that may crop up over the course of your pet’s life. That being said, it may be cost-prohibitive if your pet is older — because insurance premiums increase with age — or has a condition pet insurance agencies won’t cover.

Do most vets take pet insurance?

When you visit your doctor and use your insurance, your physician’s office submits an insurance claim, so they need to have a solid relationship with your insurance company. Unlike fussy insurance claims for humans, most vets can accept any pet insurance plan due to the simplified claims process.

What pet insurance plans should I avoid?

Shallow focus photography of a golden retriever.
Garfield Besa/Pexels

If you plan to insure an older pet, it goes without saying that you should avoid pet insurance companies with an age limit. Other restrictions you should look out for are breed restrictions, plans that don’t cover preexisting conditions, and plans with a fee schedule.

A fee schedule is a list of common ailments, its treatments, and what the insurance company pays based on what the company thinks a certain treatment should cost. As you can imagine, insurance companies often underestimate the true cost of treatment, which leaves you paying much more money than you anticipated.

Make sure to shop around for the best rates and coverage when you’re trying to find the best insurance plan for your pet.

If your pet is younger, in generally good health, or has an easily controlled condition covered by the vast majority of pet insurance plans, pet insurance can give you peace of mind and help cover medical expenses.

For help covering routine wellness visits and vaccinations, the premiums are much lower. If you’re willing to spend more per month, an accident and injury plan — which can cost up to $100 a month depending on the company — might be a great option. Some employers offer discounts on pet insurance, so check with your employer before you purchase insurance on your own.

Covering your pet’s medical bills can be expensive, but pet insurance will help save you money. Just make sure the cost of a monthly insurance premium makes sense for your pet’s age, health, and your budget.

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Mary Johnson
Mary Johnson is a writer and photographer from New Orleans, Louisiana. Her work has been published in PawTracks and…
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