Many of us consider our pets to be members of our families. Because of that we try to treat them like any other member of the family, especially when it comes to taking care of their health. But pet expenses can be cumbersome – especially when Fido becomes ill. Some pet owners have pet health insurance for exactly this purpose. It may seem a bit extravagant to non-pet owners, but to the pet owner it makes perfect sense.
Why would you want pet health insurance?
You would want pet health insurance for all the same reasons that you would want coverage for yourself and other members of your family. Healthcare – including for pets – is expensive! And that actually creates two compelling reasons to have health insurance for your pets.
The first obviously is the cost. Just like for a human, a single medical procedure for a pet can cost many thousands of dollars. Having pet health insurance could be the difference between your pet having a life-saving procedure, or going without it and facing the inevitable outcome. Having health insurance for your pet is a way to avoid this fate.
The second reason is options. When you are facing expensive medical procedures, the high cost may force you to limit treatments. You may only be able to go so far with treatments before you exhaust your funds and have to give up. Having health insurance means that you will have options. You will be able to get that next surgery or other kind of procedure if it’s deemed necessary to save your pet‘s life.
This will be especially important in an emergency situation, when decisions need to be made quickly. If you have pet health insurance, you’ll be able to make those decisions without being so limited by financial considerations.
Neal’s Notes – Another alternative to health insurance for your pet is to self-insure (explained below). In order to do that you must set up your budget and put a certain amount of money aside each month. I use YNAB to budget but I’ll admit that I don’t set aside money for large vet bills. I also don’t have pet insurance. It’s something I am going to investigate.
What pet health insurance costs
There are several companies that provide pet health insurance. I got a quote from a company called Healthy Paws, which sounded interesting if only because of the name. There are various companies with different pricing structures and coverage, so just as is the case with health insurance policies for people, it pays to shop around.
The quote that I got included a $250 deductible and an 80% reimbursement. You can customize both the deductible and the reimbursement percentage. For example, lowering either will result in a higher monthly premium. Raising either number will result in a lower monthly premium. Like conventional health coverage, you can use health insurance deductibles to save a good chunk of change.
My quote came to $47.39 per month. That works out to be a little bit less than $575 per year. That seems like a reasonable fee to pay to cover medical procedures on your beloved pet.
What pet health insurance covers
The policy I investigated covers injuries, illnesses, genetic conditions and emergency care. It offers payment for the following medical procedures:
- Diagnostic testing
- Prescription medications
That list looks to cover the major medical expenses we would expect to pay in connection with a pet, though I’m not sure that hospitalization would extend to boarding for medical observation or recovery.
The policy works such that you pay for the services up front, and then you are reimbursed after the fact. The site claims that you’ll be paid within three days of receipt of medical records from the veterinarian. It also mentions an average reimbursement time on the order of 10 days.
They will reimburse services provided by a licensed veterinarian of your choice. There is no network list of providers as is the case with human health insurance policies.
Your pet will have unlimited lifetime benefits. And in addition there are per incident or even on an annual basis. So if you have a pet that is injury prone, pet health insurance will keep you covered.
What pet health insurance doesn‘t cover
Like any insurance policy, there are certain medical situations that will not be covered. These include pre-existing conditions, preventative or routine care, spaying or neutering, or office visit fees for veterinary exams.
Pre-existing conditions are defined as health conditions known to exist at the time of policy application.
The policy “covers the expected”, which rules out anything that is either known in advance or is in any way ordinary.
Is pet health insurance worth the money?
There may be some thought that, as an alternative, you could instead save up $575 per year (from the quote above) and self-insure your pet. Over a ten-year period that would provide $6,000 to pay toward your pet’s medical expenses. There are two problems with this.
First, the amount of money could be completely consumed by a single medical procedure. Second, if such a medical procedure were acquired only one or two years into your saving plan, you wouldn’t have nearly enough money to cover the procedure.
On balance, I think pet health insurance is worth investigating.