Pet Insurance: Is it Worth It?

Published on September 24, 2018 by

Veterinary technician with dogNot sure if pet insurance is worth it? According to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association, there are about 1.4 million pets covered by a pet insurance plan as of 2014.

You may not have experienced any health problems with your pets yet, but a sudden accident or illness may be costly. The cost of veterinary treatment is expensive and can cost thousands of dollars. Further, pet owners are treating their pets as a member of the family, so they are more inclined to pay for expensive procedures and surgery.

The first thing you must consider when deciding to get pet insurance is how much you are willing to pay. While pet insurance costs hundreds of dollars annually, it may give your pet access to better care. The pet owner may not have to choose between paying for a  procedure or other options. Not all illnesses are covered by pet health insurance plans. If the cost of caring for your pet is less than the combination of premium, co-pay and deductible then pet insurance is not worth it.

What is Pet Insurance?

Like human health insurance, pet insurance helps cover the cost of vet care if your pet becomes ill or injured.  Most pet insurance plans are designed to cover for large cost procedures or surgery. However, some pet insurance plans reimburse for wellness procedures like vaccinations and heartworm testing.

Pet insurance is a reimbursement program and no networks are used. You are free to use the licensed veterinarian you choose. You must pay out of pocket first and file a claim afterwards, since pet insurance is reimbursed. The pet insurance company will evaluate the claim and if approved, will reimburse the amount. If the claim is denied, the pet owner is stuck with both a premium payment and out of pocket expenses.

Like human health insurance, pet insurance has deductibles, co-pays, maximum payouts, premiums, and some coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Deductible – the amount you must pay before the pet insurance company will start paying for pet’s veterinary care. The deductible may be an annual or per-incident deductible.

Co-Pay – the percentage you must pay after the deductible is met.

Maximum Payout – the maximum amount of money the pet insurance company will reimburse for veterinary care.

Premium – the amount you pay monthly or annually for your pet insurance policy.  Factors considered include where you live, age, co-pay and deductible selected, breed of pet and the amount of medical coverage requested.

Waiting Period – to prevent pet owners from getting pet insurance when their pet is already sick, companies impose a waiting period between the time you buy your policy and when coverage begins.

Pre-Existing Conditions – before a pet insurance policy is issued, all conditions must be reported. Any conditions that occur during the waiting period can be considered pre-existing conditions. This may lead to a longer waiting period.

What Affects Your Pet Insurance Premium?

The cost of pet insurance depends on coverage, the pet’s condition, and where you live. A low deductible and high reimbursement rate will lead to low costs per incident but high premiums. If you take less risk, and the pet insurance company pays the bills, your premium will be higher. Some pet insurance plans allow the pet owner to add endorsements to pay for exams, check-ups and prescription food. The factors that are considered when calculating the pet insurance premium include species, breed, age and location.

What Kinds of Animals are Covered with Traditional Pet Insurance?

Not only can you cover dogs and cats with pet insurance, but companies may also offer options for birds and exotic pets. With many species of birds living 80+ years, pet insurance may be costly. Some pet insurance providers cover birds, rabbits, reptiles, ferrets, goats, guinea pigs, hamsters, potbellied pigs, snakes, tortoises and turtles. The exotic pet insurance plans cover accidents and illnesses including examinations, lab fees, prescriptions, X-rays, and hospitalization.

What is Covered for Dogs and Cats?

According to the ASPCA Pet Health Insurance Plan, dogs and cats are covered for accidents and illnesses. Accident coverage pays the cost for injuries and emergency accidents including torn ligaments, bite wounds, cuts, broken bones, foreign objects lodged in paws, throat or other part of the body, and poisoning. Illness coverage reimburses for pets that have cancer, arthritis, allergies, hypothyroidism, and digestive problems.

Hereditary and congenital conditions may not be covered or cost more to insure. Hereditary and congenital conditions include conditions that a dog or cat may not show symptoms for until later in life. They can include heart disease, eye disorders and hip dysplasia.

Pet insurance can cover alternative therapies including acupuncture, chiropractic care, hydrotherapy and laser therapy.

Conditions that may increase the cost of pet insurance include behavioral issues and chronic conditions. Behavior issues include anxiety, compulsive behavior, excessive licking, fur pulling and destruction of the home. Chronic conditions that may need multiple periods of care includes allergies, diabetes and cancer.

What is Excluded in Pet Insurance?

Many pet insurance companies will not pay for illnesses or accidents due to hereditary conditions, behavior issues or dental disease due to lack of care. Some pet insurance companies will pay for curable pre-existing conditions, while they will not usually pay for incurable pre-existing conditions.

ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plans don’t cover for pre-existing conditions, cosmetic procedures, breeding costs, and preventive care. Under their pet insurance plan any injury or illness that is cured and free of symptoms for 180 days is no longer considered a pre-existing condition. Cosmetic procedures are not covered by pet insurance. This includes tail docking, ear cropping and claw removal. Breeding costs that are associated with pregnancy are not covered by their pet insurance plan. While some pet insurance companies reimburse for preventive care, the ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan does not. Preventive care includes annual wellness exams, vaccines, and screenings. You may add preventative care to an existing pet insurance plan at an additional cost.

Ways to Save on Medical Expenses

You can prevent some expenses for pets by providing proper care, vaccines and annual exams. Your pet may not need all vaccines. For instance, if your pet is an indoors and doesn’t come in contact with other animals, a vaccine for kennel cough may not be needed. Being vigilant about flea and tick medication will help prevent life-threatening anemia or Lyme disease. Your pet may experience complications if they are not spayed or neutered. Some cancers are linked to pets that have not been spayed or neutered. Whether you pay up front with pet insurance or out of pocket at the time of illness or injury, it is important to take care of your pet so they can avoid any painful conditions.

Did this discussion about pet insurance pique your interest in becoming a veterinary technician? With an associate degree in veterinary technology, you’ll gain the knowledge and skills you need to start an entry-level career as a veterinary technician. Broadview University has been part of the community for more than 40 years, so we’ve developed connections that can help move your career forward. After completing our accredited degree program, you’ll be eligible to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). Passing the VTNE allows you to become a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT), a designation that will give you a competitive advantage when you enter the job market.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a veterinary technician and working in veterinary technology.


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