South San Francisco, CA September 14, 2021 by Allie Clevenger, ESC
With the humanization of pets becoming more and more common (and accepted) in society, how do you decide what the best path is for your fur (or feathered/scaled) babies? Accidents are common and when your pet can’t tell you what’s wrong, it’s up to you to seek answers through veterinarians. This process can become costly, especially when it isn’t a common issue.
Even still, pets typically require annual examinations and regular vaccinations, medicines or therapy which can add up very quickly. Deciding whether a pet insurance plan is something you should add to your budget can be a daunting task. The alternative is to set up a savings account to add money to each month in order to pay for the unexpected illnesses or accidents that may come. This way, there’s a possibility you may be able to earn cash back or a percentage of what you save each month. Insurance companies don’t typically have a rollover plan where you can bank the fee you pay each month. Then again, what if you are just starting your pet savings account and something disastrous occurs? Are you able to weather the hit?
There are many questions you need to ask yourself before choosing a plan. After researching some of the most reviewed insurance plans on the market, here are tips to help you understand what some of these companies may offer with their plans, and how to determine your needs.
While researching your choices for pet insurance, keep these items in mind:
- Type of policy needed (wellness, accident, illness)
- How soon does coverage kick in?
- Are pre-existing conditions allowed?
- What future ailments will be covered/not covered
- Limits of payouts
- Are diagnostics covered?
- What treatments are covered?
- Are there discounts for veterans or others?
- Age limits
- Do they offer exotic pet insurance?
- Does the plan cover routine visits (i.e. nail trims, vaccinations, heartworm tests)
- If you have a breed that is predisposed to certain conditions, are those covered?
- Do they allow you to customize the plan?
- Are medications or prescription food covered?
- Do they offer alternatives to medication? (i.e. rehabilitation/acupuncture)
- Does the deductible decrease as the pet ages?
- Do they offer treatment for behavioral issues?
Reading the fine print will go a long way in determining whether pet insurance is worth the cost. Before foregoing it all together, you may want to research typical costs of common ailments or accidents should you choose to go the route of saving your money in a rainy day fund.
Get with your veterinarian and research online, choosing the maximum costs as your guide to ensure you’ve saved enough to cover future issues. Ask your vet if they have an in-house plan that they offer, if they have one they recommend or use for their own pets.
Many veterinarians will offer their own wellness plans that cover routine health maintenance visits, but carefully weigh the monthly cost against what you spend per year on those visits.
Whether you choose to insure your pet or simply save the money you would typically spend in fees, prevention is always the best course of action. Foregoing wellness exams and routine health procedures will only become more costly in the future and cause your pet pain or to feel ill, lowering their quality of life. They aren’t human, but they need to keep up with their health just as their parents do!