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Budgeting For Pet Health Insurance Now Can Save You Heartache – And Wallet Ache – Later

budgeting for pet health insurance
budgeting for pet health insurance

Pets are a popular part of the American family, with 67% of households owning at least one. This reflects a significant increase since 1988 when only 56% of households did.  We love our pets and unexpected expenses have lead many owners to consider budgeting for pet health insurance.

Despite the economic hardships that pets can impose, pet ownership has increased steadily through the decades.

Dogs, cats, aquarium fish, birds, reptiles, and other animals are now seen as valuable family members who serve as entertainers, companions and even protectors of the homestead.  As part of the family, we want to provide the care and support they deserve.

Healthcare is often the greatest expense we spend on our pets. At times, the cost associated with our little companions care and comfort may force us to make tough financial decisions that can be painful choices.  So, would the cost of investing in pet health insurance now be worth the benefits later?

Before we get into the details of the only answer you will need, here is the brief answer.

Is pet health insurance worth it? Pet health insurance can cover a large range of pet related healthcare expenses including routine wellness visits, vaccinations, dental care, sterilization procedures, and more. Depending on the level of coverage purchased, emergency care or expensive surgical procedures can be partially covered resulting in a huge cost savings.

Now that we have given you the quick answer, let’s dive into more details to help you determine if pet health insurance is truly right for you and your pet and how budgeting for pet health insurance can be beneficial.

The cost of health services for pets

With approximately 85 million households in the United States owning a pet, caring for these nonhuman family members has become a $99 billion a year industry, more than doubling since 2010.

This statistic not only testifies to their popularity, but also to the level of financial sacrifice some pet owners make to keep their pets healthy and happy.

The cost of veterinary care alone is expected to reach $30.2 billion this year. As veterinary care continues to incorporate many of the advanced diagnostic and surgical techniques that are commonplace in human healthcare, the cost of veterinary care will likely continue to rise.

With many pet owners facing economic strains due to the pandemic, a sudden pet health emergency, even if not grave, could have them facing the possibility of “economic euthanasia,” having to put their pets down because they lack the funds to cover sudden veterinary expenses.

The cost of veterinary care alone is expected to reach $30.2 billion this year.

An Alternative

An increasingly popular option to prevent this type of situation is a pet insurance policy. Unlike human health insurance which usually pays out directly to the medical provider, most pet insurance plans work on a reimbursement basis. Here’s how:

  • You must first pay the veterinarian for the procedure needed and then request reimbursement from the pet insurance company. The reimbursement amount is never 100% of the cost, although some of the more complete plans cover up to 90% of vet costs.
  • After this, the reimbursement process is usually simple, requiring only the vet’s invoice (and sometimes some treatment records) along with a completed claim form. You will then receive your money quickly. 
  • Budgeting for pet health insurance and other unexpected pet related expenses can ensure funds are available when you need them while awaiting insurance reimbursements.

How Pet Insurance works

Like other types of insurance, pet insurance is essentially a package of many different types of coverage.

Some packages cover only the bare essentials, while others offer more and include preventive care and rehabilitation. Dental coverage for pets is rare, but a few carriers are now offering it as an option in their pricier policies.

However, nearly all pet insurance policies exclude preexisting conditions and specific conditions such as hip dysplasia. They also can include payout caps on particular procedures, on the yearly payout, or even on the total the policy will pay.

Most pet insurers will reimburse you for care rendered by any licensed American vet, but some limit policyholders to certain veterinary clinics and networks.

All pet insurance plans have a deductible of one type or another. Most insurers give their customers a choice of deductibles; policies with lower deductibles cost more. Being able to adjust the deductible allows customers to pick a policy with a monthly payment that fits their budget.

So, here’s the big question, exactly what can you do to budget for pet health insurance properly? Well, here are some steps we will review in detail below:

  • Evaluate the age and size of your pet
  • Look for quality instead of quantity
  • Keep some emergency funds
  • Cut down on other expenses
  • Get discounts
  • Consider employer’s insurance
  • Compare pet insurance providers

Some packages cover only the bare essentials, while others offer more and include preventive care and rehabilitation.

Evaluate the age and size of your pet

One of the first things you should do before getting pet insurance is to evaluate the different costs at different stages.

When your pet is younger, you might have to spend more money on insurance, considering you will need to get it neutered or spayed.  Plus, if you have a dog, you will need to spend money on training and vaccinations.  Wellness plans (not an insurance plan), such as those offered by Banfield, can be a good option to help with routine wellness costs such as vaccinations and office visits if using insurance for more serious issues.

Additionally, some dogs have upper respiratory problems to deal with, while the older dogs can have joint problems. This, of course, depends on the type of pet you have. However, it is clear you will need some insurance to sustain them.

Look for quality instead of quantity

When you are looking at an insurance plan, you might feel more attracted to a plan that offers more services. However, you should be careful to pick the one that offers quality over quantity.

It’s tempting to cut costs, but this might compromise the quality of your pet’s life. In the long run, it might end up costing you more.

However, if your pet receives quality care, it will be healthier, which means you would be spending a lot less on vet visits down the lane.

Keep some emergency funds

Now, here’s the thing. Sure, you might have invested in an insurance plan which is suitable for your pet. However, you should ensure that you have extra money saved.

Sometimes, the pet can become seriously hurt, injured or ill. In this case, you might have to invest more money. So, it is best you have a pool of emergency funds available.

When you get a pet, start putting away a certain amount for emergency use every month. This would help you and your little loved one immensely.

Cut down on other expenses

You can also opt for more budget-friendly pet insurance to cut down on other expenses.

For instance, search online to get the best deals for pet food, litter, poopy bags, or anything you think might give you a good deal. You can also see if you are getting cheaper grooming services.

This would help to save money in the long run. The money could then be used to purchase a better pet insurance policy.

Get Discounts

Discounts are great when you can find them, and who doesn’t love to pay less? Pet insurance discounts are not always obvious or offered.  However, there is one thing you can do to score a discount on your pet’s premium.

Not many people know this, but with a pet insurance premium, you can easily get a discount of 5% for families that own 2-3 pets. If you have 4 or more pets, the average nationwide pet insurance policy discount is 10%. The more pets the merrier for big discount savings!

So, if you have a large pet family, this is a way you can save more.  Just make sure to mention this when shopping for your policy to ensure you get the discounts you and your pets deserve.

… with a pet insurance premium, you can easily get a discount of 5% for families that own 2-3 pets. If you have 4 or more pets, the average nationwide pet insurance policy discount is 10%.

Employer’s insurance

Some companies also offer pet insurance. You should check to see if your company is one of those. If yes, you should opt for it instead of purchasing an insurance policy yourself.

Pet policies offered by employers are often cheaper than ones you can get on your own due to larger group discounts your employer gets.  This way, you can keep a greater amount for emergency funds instead of paying it every month for insurance purposes.

Compare pet insurance providers

Before you decide to take up an insurance policy, you should compare pet insurance providers to see what each provider is giving before coming to a final policy.

This would help you understand which plan provides better premiums, deductibles, sample reimbursements, and other details. Choose the one that best suits your pet’s needs!

Finally…

Pets can lighten up your home, and they are good companions. More people are starting to realize that.

It is equally important that their health is looked after, and they are given the best kind of medical care. Therefore, it is important that you consider investing in a health insurance policy that can give them the best care while not being too heavy on your pocket either.

If you can apply the above budget tips, you are sure to provide them with good health coverage that can improve their quality of life.  

Ultimately, budgeting for pet health insurance is more than a financial plan, it also gives you and your pets peace of mind knowing they will be taken care of.

Our store is also full of wellness essentials that can help to keep your pooch healthy and in their best spirit!

From vitamins and wellness treats to CBD and bandages, we have essentials to improve your fur-angels health and well-being.

 

Article Contributors:

José A. Sánchez Fournier is a writer with Money.com. Previously, he spent 15 years as a journalist with El Nuevo Día, the largest daily newspaper in Puerto Rico.

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