Pet Insurance 101

September 30, 2013

Pet Insurance 101Pet insurance costs might be a little high for your budget right now but if you have a dog, cat, or some other beloved animal you should give some thought to what you’d do if your pet was really sick or badly injured.

Would you pay thousands of dollars to your veterinarian to nurse your pet back to health? Would you end up wishing you’d taken the time to research and compare pet insurance plans?

Pet Insurance Costs

I’m not speaking from personal experience about pet insurance, our two little kids keep us busy enough without adding a little puppy into the mix. However, I do come from a family of animal lovers. We always had a dog, cat, or one of each roaming around the house when I was growing up and that fondness for animals stuck with us.

My sister brought home a cute little dog a few years ago, named Peanut, that’s become a major part of her life. As a parent, I can understand why she was pretty upset when her “little kid” suddenly got really sick while back. The vet recommended surgery to save Peanut’s life and being the caring person she is, my sister did whatever she needed to make him better.

The good news was that Peanut pulled through but the bad news was the vet bill that came along with his health. As with any unexpected major expense, this wasn’t money my sister had been planning on spending. Fortunately she didn’t have to go into any high-interest debt to pay the bill but it did set her back quite a bit financially.

So, if you’re a pet lover and think you could have a big expense like this someday, here’s a little more information about pet insurance.

What Does Pet Insurance Cover?

Pet insurance coverage depends on the type of plan you get, and the conditions that the policy covers. There are some pet health insurance plans that will cover everything, from check-up visits to heart worm medication to surgery. Other plans are more specialized, covering only major items such as poison extraction (if your pet swallows something deadly) or broken bones due to being hit by a car.

Also, some pet insurance policies won’t cover pre-existing conditions. The older your pet is, the more likely they are to have a condition that won’t be covered. Make sure you are clear on what you are getting in terms of coverage when you purchase a pet insurance policy.

The cost of pet insurance varies according to policy as well. In a lot of ways, the cost of pet insurance is figured similarly to the cost of insurance for humans. The size of the policy, what is covered, your deductible, co-pays, age and health are all considered when a pet insurance company provides you with a quote. Even your ZIP code can affect pet insurance rates. Some plans are as little as $5 or $10 a month, and others can be as much as $50 or more per month.

Is Pet Insurance Worth It?

As with all personal finance decisions, it is up to you to determine whether pet insurance works for you. Some people consider that they may pay $15 a month for 10 years, and have nothing happen to their pets. That’s a lot of money ($1,800 over the course of 10 years) when you add it up. Some decide that they will wait until their pets are older to get pet insurance, since many young dogs don’t need as much veterinary care. However, if you wait too long, the insurance becomes expensive – or the pre-existing conditions make it pointless.

Others decide to self-insure. You can set aside money in a high-interest savings account each month, waiting for it to grow over the life span of your pet. When something happens, you have the funds available to help pay the costs. If your pet reaches the end of their life without major medical problems, you have all that money, instead of the insurance company. Of course, your savings may not be enough if your pet has an accident while young.

In the end, you have to decide how much you are willing to spend on your pet, and whether the peace of mind associated with pet insurance is worth it. If you are interested in shopping around for pet insurance, you can check with the following sites:

So what do you think? Is pet insurance worth the money for you? Leave a comment!

This article was originally published March 23, 2011.


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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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6 Responses to Pet Insurance 101

  • Michelle

    Excellent article. As you mentioned regarding your sister’s experience with Peanut, if you love your animal, and especially if you worry that you might not be able to cover expenses, then pet insurance is a saving grace that is quite practical in the long run.

  • Sam P

    Thanks for this great article Ben. It’s can be a tough decision to make whether or not to purchase health insurance. Sometimes a pet will need a surgical procedure which can cost at least a few thousand dollars in which the pet insurance would make sense.

  • Estelle P

    Great Article! After shopping around for a while and doing thorough research, pet insurance doesn’t seem like a worthwhile investment. It just ends up costing you more unless you have astronomical vet bills that they’ll cover. A lot of people have petassure though and seem happy with it. It’s cheaper and covers all pets.


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