As pet parents we want to provide the best for our furry family members. But no matter how carefully we watch them and how well we care for them, accidents and emergencies are bound to happen. Per the American Veterinary Medical Association, one in three pets will require emergency treatments each year. Pet insurance can provide a financial safety net for these often extensive and unexpected veterinary costs. But how much does it really cost to insure your pet and provide peace of mind that you will be able to afford emergency treatment for them if needed? Let’s take a look at some of the factors.
In return for a monthly payment (known as a premium), a pet insurance company reimburses pet owners for some or all of their veterinary costs. In most cases, an owner with pet insurance will pay their veterinarian directly at the time of service, submit a claim to their insurance company, and receive a certain amount of money back.
Reimbursement rate (also known as co-pay) refers to the amount that pet insurance will pay you back for the cost of care. While the average is 80%, it may vary by brand and policy. The deductible is the amount of money you have to pay before your pet insurance policy will begin covering costs. This may be annual or per incident. The maximum payout is the amount that your pet insurance will cover – if your veterinary costs exceed this amount (either per year or incident), you will be responsible for the remainder of the bill.
The price of your monthly pet insurance premium will depend on multiple factors, including your location, the insurance policy that you select, and your pet’s species, breed, and age. In general, the more extensive the coverage offered by your policy, the higher your monthly cost will be. Certain breeds and older animals that are at higher risk for becoming ill will also cost more to insure. The North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA) states that the average premium in the US is $28.57 monthly for a cat, and $48.66 for a dog.
If you are seriously considering pet insurance a good place to start is to ask your vet for one or two recommendations for pet insurance companies. You can then contact these companies directly and get a quote for your individual pet(s). The information below will help explain some of the factors that go into calculating these costs.
The cost of insuring a cat will be less than that for insuring a dog. There is also a wide range of variation in price based on breed. Certain breeds have a genetic predisposition for development of various disease processes. Mixed breeds generally have lower premiums for this reason. It is important to consider your pet’s breed and associated risks when deciding if pet insurance is right for you and choosing your coverage.
For example, Great Danes are gentle giants, however due to their large size and deep-chested confirmation are predisposed to significant musculoskeletal conditions (such as arthritis), gastric dilatation and volvulus (bloat), and more, raising their average monthly premium to $122.45 for a 5.5-year-old, versus $47.27 for a Chihuahua of the same age.
Senior pets are also more likely to develop significant medical conditions, such as arthritis, cancer, heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, and decline in hearing/vision/cognitive function. Therefore your monthly premium will increase as your pet ages. Elaborating on the example above, average monthly costs for a six-month-old Great Dane are $84.83.
Underlying health conditions that are present when your insurance policy is activated are known as pre-existing conditions, and will not be covered by your insurance in the future. While this may not impact your monthly premium, it will have a significant impact on what types of costs you are able to be reimbursed for.
Just as average salary and cost of living vary by location, the price you pay for pet insurance will also vary by state. Urban areas generally have higher costs associated with running a veterinary clinic, and this will also be reflected in higher premiums in these areas.
There are three main types of insurance policies available for pets. Those that offer more extensive coverage also come with a higher premium.
There are many options for companies offering pet insurance. Choosing a well-established company based on your veterinarian’s recommendation is generally the best bet. This buying guide from NAPHIA also has important information and things to consider.
The deductible, reimbursement rate, and maximum payout associated with your policy
As discussed above, these factors will also influence your monthly premium. They are best discussed in detail with the insurance company of your choice.
There is no one right answer, as so much will depend on your individual pet and financial situation. There is no way to predict when or how your pet may get sick or the associated costs.
Many veterinarians promote pet insurance because it helps alleviate financial concerns for pet parents, and shifts the focus of client communication back to medical recommendations and quality of care, instead of cost. In short, if a client has pet insurance they are more likely to approve medical recommendations from their vet, and their pet is more likely to get the care they need. And keeping our furry family members happy and healthy is the main goal.
There are several large pet insurance companies, including:
It’s important to research and compare the different pet insurance options available to find the best fit for your pet’s needs. Be sure to read the fine print and understand what is and is not covered under each policy.
It’s difficult to determine a single “best” pet insurance company, as the best option for one person’s pet may not be the best for another’s. It’s important to carefully research and compare the different pet insurance options available to find the one that best meets your needs and budget. Here are a few things to consider when choosing a pet insurance company:
It’s also a good idea to read reviews and ask for recommendations from friends, family, and your veterinarian before making a decision.