A man snuggling with his kitten.

Pets are priceless, and as members of the family, they deserve to receive quality veterinary care. We’re fortunate that advancements in veterinary medicine have led to improved outcomes for pets that suffer an injury or develop a serious illness. But modern medicine comes at a cost. 

Recent statistics show that unexpected emergencies for pets cost their owners an average of $800 to $1,500, depending upon the location. And these surprise expenses can put a significant strain on household budgets. Just ask anyone whose dog has eaten a sock! This is where pet health insurance can really come in handy. 

To help pet families make informed decisions when it comes to pet insurance, our team at Leon Valley Veterinary Hospital has compiled some helpful information.

How Does Pet Insurance Work?

Coverage for pets works a bit differently from human health insurance, so keep the following information in mind when you’re shopping for pet insurance

You will still need to cover your pet’s vet bill. Unlike human policies, most pet insurance plans require that you pay your pet’s doctor bill and then submit a claim for reimbursement. 

Pre-existing conditions are excluded on almost every pet insurance policy. If your pet has a diagnosed condition before the policy takes effect, it won’t be covered. 

Pet insurance is designed to cover unexpected vet bills—not preventive care. Most policies (unless you purchase add-on coverage) don’t pay for routine checkups, vaccines, spay/neuter surgeries, or dental cleanings

Know the numbers before you choose. Deductibles, annual limits on payouts, and the percentage of reimbursement vary widely from plan to plan. You can find side-by-side plan comparisons online at Consumers Advocate, ASPCA, Forbes, and other sites.

Is Pet Insurance Worth It?

Deciding whether or not the cost of pet insurance is worth it is a very individualized process. First, let’s take a look at the numbers.

Statistics from the North American Pet Health Insurance Association put the average monthly premiums at $28 for cats and $49 for dogs, which adds up to $336 annually for a cat and $588 a year for a dog. The cost of a pet policy depends on a pet’s age, breed, geographic location, coverage options like deductibles, and add-ons like coverage for wellness visits

Be prepared to pay higher premiums as your pet ages, but keep in mind that aging pets are the ones who can typically benefit the most from healthcare coverage. 

Now, let’s consider the non-monetary impact of having pet insurance. Pets covered by insurance typically:

  • Receive care earlier on when exhibiting symptoms. And many disease processes can be more effectively treated when caught sooner.
  • Receive the highest level of veterinary care 
  • Receive services from veterinary specialists when needed
  • Receive the best medical decisions for their condition—not decisions based on family finances

We strive to provide the highest quality veterinary care to all of our pet patients, and we are happy to recommend pet insurance companies and answer your questions. Please feel free to call us at (210) 681-1391.