Adopting an animal is a major investment. Besides the initial fees incurred from the breeder, pet store or animal shelter, you have to financially take care of them by providing toys, food and various other expenses. Pets have both regular and unexpected medical costs, and like humans they can have medical insurance to cover the expenses. Is this form of insurance right for you and your pet?
Consider your budget
As with most things, your unique financial standing and budget are key factors when considering signing your best friend up for pet insurance. Sarah Kliff, a leading American health policy journalist and owner of a beagle named Spencer, commented on Vox that it all depends on how much money you have available to spend on a potential medical emergency. Her very basic rule is that if you don’t have the financial flexibility to handle a large vet bill in the $5,000 range, pet insurance might be the right choice for you. Beyond that, you should also look at the monthly premium costs and make sure you have the space in your budget to add them to your payment calendar.
Know what’s covered
Just like with any other insurance plan, it’s important to know exactly what’s covered under a policy. While human insurance tends to be more flexible about covering accidents, illnesses and long-term conditions, several pet policies are not. Bark contributing editor Rebecca Wallick notes that pet health insurance tends to contain specific details about covering congenital conditions your pet was born with, hereditary conditions that are known to affect your pet’s breed and any developmental conditions your pet may have. Many pet insurance policies also utilize caps to limit how much money they will pay in your animal’s lifetime, and they may also have caps on the amount covered in a year and per incident.
Look at other options
The major financial and consumer publications can’t come to a consensus about whether pet insurance is really worth it, especially if you have a relatively healthy pet. If you are wary of committing to years of payments, Wallick offers two alternatives. One is to set up a separate savings account in which you can store funds for pet care and regularly deposit the money you would pay for pet insurance. While it might not be as large a pot of money as an insurance provider might offer, it could over time become a significant help in the case of any unexpected illnesses or surgeries. Another option is to work with companies like Scratchpay or CareCredit for veterinary lines of credit if disaster strikes. As with all credit applications, you should consider your own financial situation before applying for credit.
When you bring a pet into your home, you are committing to caring for them and giving them the best quality of life possible, which includes keeping them healthy. Like all forms of insurance, Mandy Walker of Consumer Reports notes that pet insurance is essentially a gamble. While you never hope to have to use it, it’s possible that an insured pet will stay healthy enough to never recoup the costs of the premiums you pay. Take a look at your own financial situation and several policies before making your final choice.