Sixty-three percent of U.S. households own a dog or cat, sales of pet care services are totaling at $5.8 billion dollars in the U.S., $123.6 billion U.S. pet industry dollars was spent in 2021 and by 2026 veterinary occupations are expected to grow almost three times faster than projected growth for all occupations. Our pets are living longer, options for pet treatment are expanding and pet owners are consciously aware the animal they own is a furry family member.
Twelve years ago, I adopted M ’Lady Matilda when she was 12 weeks old. I debated getting pet insurance at that time because my previous kitty, Sadie Lady, passed away (euthanasia) after she came down with cancer for the second time in her life. I had spent thousands of dollars saving her and with it came years of a quality life before another type of cancer set in. So, when Matilda was diagnosed with “lame kitten syndrome” I made the decision to get pet insurance. After doing some research I found the best pet insurance “fit” for my household and have since insured other pets as they came along each using their insurance.
Pet insurance is over 100 years old and is expected to exceed a revenue of $3.8 billion by 2027.
What is pet insurance and why should you consider the investment?
“Health” insurance is a type of insurance coverage that pays for health and medical expenses in return for payment of a premium. Generally, the higher your deductible and reimbursement level the lower your monthly premium. Pet insurance is similar to human health insurance as it offers a variety of coverages but is mostly intended to help you pay for unexpected expenses. These expenses include emergency care for accidents and injuries, illnesses, and treatment of conditions (cancer, diabetes, hypothyroidism, arthritis and more) as well as providing a Wellness Care or Preventative package option. Pet insurance may help reduce the financial risk of being a pet owner and create a financial safety net.
Responses and reasons to have or not have pet insurance:
- “Never even heard of it.”
- “Never thought about it, been fortunate our pets have never had a major illness.”
- “We put aside money in monthly budget for health care for our pet; plus an additional $75 above preventive care to cover emergency costs and also factor in yearly dog license.”
- Use money out of the emergency fund to cover cost of emergency care for pet.
- “If or when the time comes my pets need care able to afford to get them the care they need to survive and live a quality life.”
- “Peace of mind an accident or illness is covered and not have to make the choice of pet’s life versus the money needed to spend.”
Including options available, what information is required and what is covered with pet insurance?
Pet insurance options:
- Annual Limit: Ranges from $2,500 to 30,000 or unlimited option
- Annual Deductible: Ranges from $100 to $1,000
- Reimbursement Level: 70%, 80%, 90% and even 100% with a few insurances
- Type of plan with options and add-ons
- Type of coverage: Accident + Illness or Accident Only; Wellness Care or Preventative add-on
What is covered?
- Hereditary conditions
- Behavioral issues
- Dental disease
What is not covered?
- Pre-existing conditions
- Preventative care
- Breeding costs
- Treatments that are experimental
- Office visits and exam fees
Information required about pet:
- Type of Animal (dog, cat, bird, horse, etc.)
- Male or Female
- Type of Breed (including giant/large/medium/small mix)
- Where you live
How do I choose the best insurance company for my household and pet?
Pet insurances are ranked yearly by different entities therefore a lot of the work researching and comparing insurances is done for you. Much like choosing insurance for humans you have an idea of the one or two items you consider most important. For a pet, you may have no annual, per-condition, or lifetime coverage limits or no age limit for enrollment or offers policies that include coverage for physical and behavioral therapy at the top of your list. My claim being settled within 10 days or less is one top reason I chose my insurance company. Within 10 days of submission my claim is processed, and reimbursement is issued within 24 hours of completed claim.
Additional factors to be aware of when it comes to pet insurance:
- Obtain free pet insurance quotes.
- Breed of dog or cat usually has a higher premium.
- Multi-pet discount is often available.
- Diagnostics, procedures, and medications are covered under most basic plans; prescription pet food usually is not.
- Pay up-front for the pet’s vet bills and submit a claim to the insurance company.
- Submitting a claim is often as simple as forwarding the email with your paid statement on to the insurance claim department or use the company’s app to upload a picture of the statement or itemized paid receipt from pharmacy.
- Wellness (preventative) Care package is an optional add-on benefit with some pet insurances.
- Companies and employers may offer optional pet insurance or discounted rates with partner insurance company.
- It is normal to have a waiting period, coverage usually starts under 30 days after the policy effective date along with a veterinary “checkup” or medical history report.
- No maximum annual or lifetime payouts are offered with some pet insurances.
- A foundation to support animal welfare that provides grants and support for nonprofit charitable organizations are part of some pet insurance companies.
Some things to consider when your household has a pet:
- Do I have the money to cover on-going health and emergency care?
- Should I spend the money I have on this care?
- Will spending the money impact my pet’s quality of life?
- If it changes my pet’s quality of life will it be short term, long term or is there even the knowledge of this?
- Should I consider euthanasia as the best all-around choice instead of investing money on my pet in an emergency?
When M ‘Lady Matilda passed on in May of this year, our pet insurance covered her euthanasia, no questions asked. When I received a policy cancellation confirmation email, from our pet insurance company, issuing a refund and expressing condolences reassuring me I gave Matilda a “wonderful life with lots of hugs”. This communication also noted, the insurance company’s foundation was “honoring Matilda’s memory” by “donating a small amount for each pet who has passed to a certified nonprofit charity that recues homeless pets” and “one of Matilda’s legacies to be giving homeless dogs and cats another chance at life”. This is impactful for me because it touches on one of my values as it goes on to explain the shelters or rescues, they choose based on certain criteria.
For us, family included “furry” and pet insurance is “right” for us. Now the question is…is it right for your household and furry family member? Whatever you decide, loving and caring for your furry family member in good and bad times is a privilege we as pet owners get to experience.