Health & Safety & Dog Emergencies
Is Pet Insurance Worth the Cost?
Curiously Donated by PetPav
By: Lisa Fimberg
We love our cats and dogs like family and will do whatever we can to keep them happy and healthy. When it comes to their health, there is always the question of whether to purchase pet insurance. Of course, we never want to be stuck with a big medical bill that we can’t pay, but do we want to spend money on something we might not need. So, ultimately, is pet insurance is worth the cost?
What Is Pet Insurance?
Pet insurance is similar to human health insurance as it helps to alleviate some of the costs associated with medical bills. Just like health insurance, you can choose different levels of coverage and pay a monthly or annual premium.
Different pet insurance plans offer different coverage and scenarios. Some offer accidents only and injuries while others include injuries, and genetic or hereditary conditions. The more comprehensive the coverage, the more ailments and/or conditions that are covered, but at a higher expense. Take a look at what should be included in your coverage at a bare minimum in this chart from https://www.consumersadvocate.org/
The Cost of Pet Insurance:
There are a quite a few costs associated with pet insurance which should be taken into consideration. Pet insurance really is for the unexpected illness or medical costs that can become unreasonably high. How many times will your dog swallow something he shouldn’t (like a tennis ball) or your cat swallows some yarn? This is when the cost of pet insurance is more than worth it as they can leave you with big, expensive medical costs!
Each plan has a deductible:
Most pet insurance plans have a deductible which is the amount you pay out of pocket before the coverage starts on your policy. Depending on the plan and policy you choose, the deductible typically ranges from $50 to $2,000 each year. The higher the deductible, the more you will receive back on each bill.
A co-payment (or co-pay), is the percentage of the total medical expenses you pay once your deductible limit has been reached. For example, if your veterinary bill is $2,000 and you have a deductible of $500 and a co-pay of 20%, you would pay your $500 deductible and a co-pay of $300 (20 % off the $1,500 balance). Your insurer will then reimburse you $1,200 to cover the rest of the cost of treatment. Depending on your policy and which reimbursement model you choose, you can get back from 20 to 100 % of the bill.
Reimburse for bills
Most pet insurance companies require that you pay your vet bill upfront, and then they reimburse you according to your coverage, usually between 70-90%. Some plans will pay the veterinarian directly.
It’s important to make sure that the reimbursement is based on the final total costs of the bill. Make sure to know what is covered in your plan. Also, try to choose a plan that has unlimited coverage so you are not reaching a ceiling each calendar year should you have multiple incidents for your dog or cat.
The price of pet insurance:
While individual costs will vary based on your pet’s breed, age, health, where you live and the policy you choose, the price of pet insurance can range from $25 to $70 for dogs and from $10 to $40 for cats. Dogs tend to be more expensive than cats.
Pros of Pet Insurance:
There are many options and policies that you can choose from and cater to your needs. Unlike human insurance, which can be very difficult to navigate, pet insurance is pretty straightforward. Policies are simple, the different tiers are easy to compare, and you can get a no-commitment quote from different companies within minutes, making price shopping easy. If you know what you want, you really can comparison shop to find the best deal.
Premiums can be low to start:
If your cat or dog is young and/or healthy, or you choose one of the lower policy tier, you can get coverage for less than the cost of drinks at a restaurant (you would forgo that for your beloved dog!). The monthly or annual price is worth the peace of mind.
Deductibles are affordable for that unexpected emergency
Most plans have deductibles that are very affordable. How happy would you be if your dog or cat had an unexpected emergency or illness that kept him in the emergency room and you had pet insurance! Instead of shelling out almost $10,000, you can pay a $250 deductible, your co-pay and your pet insurance provider would pay 70 to 80% of the remaining portion of the bill!
Dogs or cats that have potential hereditary issues:
If you have a Labrador, there is a good chance that your dog will need some sort of hip or limb surgery during his or her life. With certain cat and dog breeds that have a pre-disposition for hereditary issues, pet insurance can certainly be worth the costs (not to be confused with those dogs or cats that already have pre-existing conditions that insurers won’t cover)
You can go to any vet or medical hospital of your choice:
With pet insurance, there aren’t any “out of network” provider issues when choosing your plan. With pet insurance, you can go to any vet or medical hospital of your choice that is convenient and you don’t have to worry if your vet takes your pet insurance (as long as they are licensed). Since you pay the cost out of pocket, all you need from your vet is a copy of their invoice and for them to fill out a section of the claim form and then you will get reimbursed. This can be really beneficial if you are traveling with your pet and they get sick.
Cons of Pet Insurance
Premiums can be high for older pets:
If your pet is older, has a pre-existing condition or you choose a high tier, you could be looking at premiums of $600 or more per month. And then, of course, there is the deductible and co-payment that you need to reach. In this case, you will want to decide it he premium is worth it for you. You have to pay the bills up front
Having pet insurance won’t save you from having to pay out of pocket immediately if your pet needs a costly procedure. Unlike health insurance, you have to pay the bill and then get reimbursed. You will get reimbursed (typically within 2 – 4 weeks) but still need to have cash available.
Pet insurance does not cover routine care:
Even if you do have pet insurance, routine checkups usually aren’t covered, so you’ll still pay for those out of pocket. Certain hereditary/genetic conditions may also not be covered; be sure to check each policy’s specifics carefully. If you are footing the premium each month, don’t be surprised when you got to get your dog or cat’s teeth cleaned and you have to pay the entire bill. Most plans only offer dental care if associated with an illness or an injury.
Some pet insurance policies have limitations:
Many plans also limit the amount you can claim, either annually or over your pet’s lifetime. If your pet is unfortunate enough to suffer a major medical problem, you could max out your plan’s limit pretty quickly and find yourself paying the difference. If you do opt for pet insurance, go for a pet insurance provider like Healthy Paws that has unlimited benefits.
You could spend more on insurance than you pay in bills:
If your pet is healthy and you don’t have any issues, you could spend more on pet insurance than in veterinary bills. With the premiums averaging about $25 a month for dogs and $18 for cats, insuring your pet could mean $250 – $400 a year just for having it for a worst-case scenario. In this case, the cost of insurance would be more than savings. There are some providers like PetFirst who give you a healthy pet discount if you don’t make any claims during the year.
Is pet insurance really worth the cost?
With pet insurance, you won’t really save money in an average year. However, if you have an unexpected emergency or large expense, you will be happy to have made the investment.Pet insurance really is about the peace of mind and being prepared for a potential emergency or illness that is not expected.
While you may not get the most bang for your buck with a healthy pet, there’s no way to predict what illnesses or injuries might occur, and for many pet owners, knowing they have a safety net in place is value enough. In fact, according to NAPHIA, those who do have pet insurance tend to go that extra step and extra vet procedures because they don’t worry as much about the costs.
How to find the best pet insurance for your dog or cat:
If you do decide to get pet insurance, enroll your pet when they’re young when policies are cheaper and before they have any ailments. Talk to your vet to get an idea of your pet’s potential breed-specific health problems and see if they have a recommendation. If you decide to choose catastrophic coverage (generally the best cost-to-savings option), spring for the highest deductible you can afford. Make sure to go or a policy that has a high annual or even better unlimited benefit schedule.
Most policies have waiting periods, which means you can’t get coverage immediately following an accident or illness. If you think you’d be interested in pet insurance, apply now before you end up needing it.
Pet insurance is really beneficial for or cats that have a predisposition to chronic illnesses. Again, this is breed specific and your vet can help you decide if it’s worth it. On the other hand, if your dog or cat has a preexisting condition, is older, lives indoors or is generally healthy, you might not need the extra expense.
In the end, it comes down to your budget and a combination of the following factors: your pet’s lifespan, the breed, how many vet visits (non-routine) you think you will take, if there is an emergency, and the type of coverage you decide to purchase.
Here’s a scenario where pet insurance does help:
If your dog lives 12 years, and your insurance premium is $25 a month for a basic plan, which doesn’t cover regular checkups or dental care. He has three procedures over the course of his life, which cost $2,500 each (very realistic!), and your deductible is $400. This means you will have spent $3,600 on premiums and $1,200 in deductibles, for a total of $4,800, during the course of your dog’s life. In this case, you would have saved $2,700.
Therefore, pet insurance is ultimately for the unexpected because you can never predict what would happen to your dog or cat. And, of course, you never want to be left with a huge medical bill and no way to cover it. If you decide to buy pet insurance, make sure to take a look at our list of the 7 Best Insurance Companies of 2018 for your dog or cat.
When you are looking into purchasing a pet insurance policy for your dog or cat, you want to get the best coverage at the best rate. After all, price is always a big factor in anything we might purchase even if we want only the best for our pets. And pet insurance can get expensive depending on the policy and coverage. Therefore, what is the typical cost of pet insurance?
How much does pet insurance cost?
Pet insurance policies generally range from $10 to $100 a month. The average monthly premium range for dogs is from $25 to $70 and from $10 to $40 for cats. Dogs tend to be more expensive than cats. When you look into the different pet insurance policies, there are many different factors that can affect your monthly premium rates. The cost of your plan is determined by the type of pet you own, their breed, where you live, and, of course, the type of coverage you choose. And then, the deductible you choose and the reimbursement percentage will also determine the price and rate of your premium.
The deductible in a pet insurance policy is the amount is the amount you pay (standard is around $250) before your pet insurance policy starts to pay. Once you’ve met your deductible, your pet insurance plan kicks in to reimburse you for 90% of all medical bills (assuming you’ve chosen a reimbursement level of 90%). When the year is over, the deductible resets. Choosing higher deductibles and lower reimbursement percentages will result in lower monthly premiums.
Reimbursement is the percent of the vet bill your insurance will pay. Most plans will allow you to customize the reimbursement options and there are 3 choices: Actual cost means that, once you have satisfied your deductible, you will be paid a percentage (i.e. 80 – 90%) of your actual veterinarian bill. Most plans that use this model so that you can choose your percentage. This type of plan will typically save you more money as it gives you more flexibility.
Benefit schedules are usually not the preferred choice as they set a maximum limit that your pet can receive. So if your dog, for example, has two accidents in one year, you might end up paying the difference out of pocket. “Usual and customary” reimbursement is only a little better but it also has a limit on payments.
What is a co-payment?
A co-payment (or co-pay), is the percentage of the total medical expenses you must pay once your deductible limit has been reached. For example, if your veterinary bill is $3,000 and you have a deductible of $500 and a co-pay of 20%, you would pay your $500 deductible and a co-pay of $500 (20 % off the $2,500 balance). Your insurer will then reimburse you $2,000 to cover the rest of the cost of treatment.
There are three types of reimbursement models that most companies offer that can affect price of your policy:
Per incident refers to the maximum the provider will pay out for a single illness, condition or injury. If you see the vet multiple times for the same procedure, this can add up and you might reach your limit too quickly.
Annual limits are how much they will pay in total for the entire year regardless of reason. Annual deductibles only need to be met for the year, so choose a dollar amount that best fits in with your budget. Annual limits tend to be less expensive and only need to be paid once.
Lifetime limits are the maximum they will pay over the life of the pet. As with deductibles and reimbursement, plans often let you pick the annual or lifetime limit, thereby affecting the amount of your monthly deductible. The best companies offer unlimited benefits with no per incident, annual, or lifetime limits. There premiums may be a bit higher but you can save money in the long run.
Pet type, age, and breed will affect the price of your coverage
Typically, dogs are more expensive than cats to insure. Some pet insurance companies extend their coverage to other types of pets as well, i.e. birds, rabbits, reptiles, and all different types of exotic pets. Nationwide is one of the few that offers coverage for exotic pets.
Pets become more expensive as they get older because they are more susceptible to illness and injury. Some pet insurance companies put age limits on coverage and will not allow you to enroll a pet if it has passed the maximum age. The reality is that whatever coverage you choose for your older dog or cat is going to be more expensive. The best time to purchase pet insurance is while the dog or cat is young before any conditions occurs.
The cost of pet insurance also fluctuates significantly depending on the breed of your dog or cat. Different breeds have different health risks. Some breeds are notoriously susceptible to specific illnesses. For example, boxers and bulldogs with the smooshed faces tend to have breathing issues and their rates can run a bit higher. Even cats such as ragdolls or Himalayans tend to have kidney and hip issues making them more expensive to insure.
Type of coverage can also affect the price:
Every pet insurance companies offers different types of plans that can affect the price. Make sure to look through each specific policy to find out exactly what is covered.
Comprehensive – This is the most popular and most expensive option. Comprehensive plans cover all manner of accident, injury, surgery, hospital stays, medications, diagnostic tests, lab work, etc. With one or two exceptions these plans typically do not cover routine exams and preventative care. While more expensive, they do offer the best coverage.
Accident Only – This is a cheaper option but only covers unexpected accidents and injuries and not illness.
Wellness – Pet insurance companies are increasingly offering a wellness component, either as an add- on to the comprehensive plan, or as a stand-alone plan itself. Wellness plans typically are not very expensive and tend to cost about the same as an accident only plan. Wellness coverage includes routine exams, vaccination, flea/heartworm prevention, and other preventative measures.
Location is also a big factor in your pet insurance rates
A big factor in determining your pet insurance premium is where you live. Just like housing and the cost of living varies depending on the city you live in, veterinary procedures such as hip dysplasia surgery will vary significantly by state. This exact surgery can cause twice as much in Los Angeles or New York City as it would be in Wisconsin. And most pet insurance providers pay out on percentages of the actual vet bill so the average cost of procedures in your area will be reflected in the monthly premium offered.
Below are some of the top pet insurance companies and their average premiums.
1. Healthy Paws
The standard plan averages $39 a month.
The starting monthly premiums for dogs is $33 and for cats is $17.
Healthy Paws also offers an annual deductible range of $100, $250, $500 or $750. You can choose the level of
deductible, which can help you control your premium costs.
Read all about Healthy Paws and their pricing
Petplan’s standard plan averages $31 a month.
The flexible deductible schedule which allows you to choose between $100 and $1,000 and not per condition can help you
control costs and your premium.
The starting monthly premiums for dogs is $29 and for cats is $18.
Read all about Petplan and their pricing.
Embrace’s standard plan averages $66 a month.
Embrace offers a range of annual deductible options as specific as $100, $200, $300, up to $1,000 which helps.
The starting monthly premiums for dogs is $13 and for cats is $9.
Read all about Embrace and their pricing.
Nationwide’s standard plan averages $61 a month.
There is only one deductible option of $250 but you do have unlimited claims.
You can even bundle up your insurance with home and auto to get further discounts.
The starting monthly premiums for dogs is $35 and for cats is $19
Read all about Nationwide and their pricing.
Figo’s standard plan averages $36 a month.
Figo offers a 100% reimbursement at a higher premium. If you want to save on premium costs, you can choose between
70%, 80%, and 90% reimbursement. Figo reimburses based on the actual vet bill.
The starting monthly premiums for dogs is $52 and for cats is $29.
Read all about Figo and their pricing
Petfirst’s standard plan averages $65 a month.
Petfirst offers flexible deductibles of $50, $100, $250, and $500. Not many other pet insurance providers offer the option of
such a low deductible.
The starting monthly premium for dogs is $17 and for cats $9 per month.
Read all about Petfirst and their pricing.
PetsBest’s standard plan averages $58 a month.
PetsBest does offer more flexibility among its deductible options and range from offers flexible deductibles of $50, $100,
$250, $500 up to $1000
The starting monthly premiums for dogs is $30 and for cats $17 a month.
Read all about PetsBest and their pricing.
The best way to figure out the pricing for your dog or cat is to call the pet insurance companies, have your list of questions
ready and compare and contrast pricing. Make sure to get a few quotes before deciding on a policy. Always ask how you
can get a discount as sometimes it’s as simple as enrolling on-line or even having multiple pets!
There are many factors that will affect pricing and our comprehensive pet insurance guide can provide you will the terminology and what to look for in a pet insurance policy.
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ACCIDENT TREATMENT CALL YOUR VETERINARIAN ANIMAL NOT BREATHING
Apply Artificial Respiration and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).
Clear animals mouth of foreign matter. Close ani"mal's muzzle with hands, cover nose with clean, thin cloth and exhale directly into animal's nostrils at 12-15 breathes per minute.
Concurrently Begin CPR. Lay animal on its right side on flat surface. With mouth closed and artificial respiration in progress, locate the heart by reaching deep into the socket of the pet's left leg and counting 3-4 ribs back towards the tail along the pet's chest. Place heel of hand in that spot and compress chest rhythmically 60-80 times per minute. Compress 1-2 inches for large dogs, less than 1 inch for small dogs. CALL YOUR VETERINARIAN NOW!
BITE WOUNDS -
Characterized by swelling, puncture, hair loss, hair matted with saliva, pus or blood.Muzzle animal (see Restraint). Clip hair around wound. Clean by liberally applying hydrogen peroxide. Apply bandage to control bleeding.As soon as possible as such wounds often become infected and require professional treatment.
BLEEDING (EXTERNAL) -
External Muzzle animal (see Restraint).
Place thick gauze or cotton pad over wound and hold firmly. Use hands to apply firm, continuous pressure directly over bleeding area until clotting occurs. If there will be a delay in reaching the veterinarian, a large, clean bath towel can be used as a tourniquet. Apply tourniquet between the cute and the heart. Loosening every 3 - 5 minutes. CALL YOUR VETERINARIAN NOW!
BLEEDING (INTERNAL) -
Internal Indicated by very pale gums, coughing blood, bleeding from nose, mouth, rectum, blood in urine, collapse, rapid or weak pulse. Keep animal as warm and quiet as possible. Do Not Attempt First Aid. CALL YOUR VETERINARIAN NOW!
Chemical Muzzle animal (see Restraint). Flush immediately with large quantities of cold water. CALL YOUR VETERINARIAN NOW!
Characterized by pawing at mouth, gagging, drooling, coughing, collapse. Quickly look into mouth to see if foreign object in throat is visible. If possible, grasp with tweezers or pliers and remove.
If Object Remains Lodged in Throat: Try a sharp blow on back of neck or between shoulders.
If This Fails, Attempt a Heimlich Maneuver: Place hands on either side of animal's rib cage and apply firm, quick pressure. Repeat 2 - 3 time. CALL YOUR VETERINARIAN NOW! If choking continues.
Hold animal up by hind legs to expel water from lungs. Remove any foreign matter from mouth and throat. Begin artificial respiration and CPR if animal has stopped breathing. (See Animal Not Breathing section) CALL YOUR VETERINARIAN NOW!
Foreign object in eye Eyeball out of socket you can see it and it is not imbedded in the eye, muzzle animal and remove it. Put socks on animal's front paws to prevent scratching. Muzzle animal and gently attempt to push back in socket. Keep moist with saline solution (1 tsp. salt/1 pint water). CALL YOUR VETERINARIAN NOW!
Muzzle animal (see Restraint). Control bleeding, treat for shock if necessary. Do Not Attempt to Set Fracture. Transport y padding limb with gauze or cotton, place two flat sticks or rolled newspaper on either side of leg and tape. NOW!
Characterized by retching, convulsions, labored breathing, diarrhea, dilated pupils, salivation, weakness, collapse.If you can quickly determine what the animal ingested and how much, call veterinarian immediately and provide animal's weight, age and other medical problems. TIME IS CRITICAL! Take further instructions over phone as antidotes vary. CALL YOUR VETERINARIAN NOW!
Non-poisonous Poisonous Treat as for animal bite wound. Muzzle animal (see Restraint). Keep animal quite to slow flow of venom. If leg bound, apply flat tourniquet above wound. CALL YOUR VETERINARIAN NOW! Characterized by shaking, falling, legs thrashing, salivating, urinating. Move pet away from sharp cornered tables (pull pet carefully by one leg), if possible to a soft rug. Attempt to put blanket or soft cloth under pet's head. Do Not Handle Animal in Any Other Way During Seizure as it could be dangerous to you. Convulsions usually last only 2-3 minutes. Keep animal quiet after seizure. CALL YOUR VETERINARIAN NOW!
Do not feed dog for 12 hours. Do provide animal with water, however, as diarrhea can cause dehydration. If symptoms persist for more than 12 hours. Be sure to take fresh stool sample with you.
Characterized by rapid or difficult breathing, vomiting, collapse Immediately place animal in tube of cold water or hose down if more accessible. Use rectal thermometer to monitor temperature. (Normal range is 100.5 F - 102.5 F). Encourage animal to drink cool water. Apply ice-pack to animal's head. CALL YOUR VETERINARIAN NOW!
Characterized by weak pulse, shallow breathing, nervousness, dazed appearance. Often accompanies sever injury or extreme fright. Keep animal restrained, quiet, and water. If unconscious, keep head level with rest of body. CALL YOUR VETERINARIAN NOW!
(without other symptoms)Remove food and do not feed animal for 12 hours. Also remove water for 12 hours, then provide to animal in limited quantities. If symptoms persist for more than 12 hours.
In many injuries to animals, it is necessary to employ restraint. An animal who is injured and in pain cannot be held responsible for its behavior.
Follow these directions carefully:
Use strip of gauze, necktie, rope or cloth about 3 feet long.
Make large loop in center, slip quickly over animal's nose.
Bring ends under chin and behind ears, fasten securely.