In the U.S., an increasing number of people have come to view their pets as integral members of the family and would do anything to ensure their health and happiness. It comes as no surprise, then, that pet insurance in the U.S. is on the rise.
In 2017, U.S. pet owners spent over $1 billion on pet insurance – up 23% from the year prior. Now, more than 1.8 million pets are insured, according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA).
But what is pet insurance anyway – and is it worth purchasing? Read on to find out.
Pet Insurance Basics
Pet insurance helps to cover high and unexpected costs associated with owning a pet. While the majority of pet insurance policies are taken out for dogs and cats, insurance for smaller mammals like rabbits and hamsters is available as well, although its practicality is debatable. When it comes to exotic pets like lizards and parrots, insurance is much harder to find.
Pet Insurance Types and Costs
Pet insurance can offer a wide range of coverage, so we recommend doing plenty of research to find the best fit for you and your pet. While some policies cover pet loss/theft, pet death by illness/injury, or pet liability, the most common type of pet insurance helps cover high and/or unexpected veterinary bills.
When it comes to cost, the more expensive the policy, the more comprehensive it will be. MarketWatch breaks down coverage costs into generalized tiers:
- Basic plans: can be as low as $10/month. A basic plan helps to cover preventative care, like shots and regular checkups.
- Medium-level plans: start around $34/month. The next tier goes beyond basic, preventative care and may cover certain conditions and surgeries.
- High-level coverage: can reach $100/month. The highest level of coverage will help pay for everything that lower tier plans will, in addition to accidents, injures, non-routine exams, and medication.
As reported in The New York Times, the average annual premium for “accident and illness” coverage was $516 per pet in 2017, according to the NAPHIA.
Factors That Will Affect Your Pet Insurance Rates
Like health insurance, the premiums you’ll pay for pet insurance depend on a number of factors, such as the below:
- Your pet’s age. Pet insurance for older animals is harder to find and more expensive, as an older pet is more likely to require treatment. While not cheap, purchasing a lifetime policy for your pet when they’re young and healthy will help you to avoid paying high premiums as they enter old age and need more care.
- Your pet’s pre-existing conditions. Similarly, it’s difficult and more expensive to purchase insurance for a pet with a pre-existing condition.
- Your pet’s breed. Because purebred dogs and cats are often predisposed to more health issues than are mixed breeds, some insurance providers will charge a higher premium to insure them.
Is Pet Insurance Right for You?
Pet insurance can be expensive, and there’s some debate over whether it’s worth it. Many people forgo pet insurance and come out on top financially, and some experts recommend you skip pet insurance unless your pet is predisposed to a certain condition or faces significant and recurring health issues throughout its life.
When deciding whether to purchase pet insurance, run through a few hypotheticals. How would you pay for your pet’s bills if they got seriously sick or injured? Are you able to set aside a substantial amount of money into a “pet emergency fund”? You’ll need to balance the financial burden of paying premiums with the potential implication of shouldering hefty vet bills. Think critically, explore your options, and take time to understand the policies available to you and your pet.
At Lindow, we offer pet insurance through Progressive for those who decide that this type of coverage is right for them and their furry friends. We encourage you to contact us with questions or to get started with a pet insurance policy today!