By: Preston Mangus
There are dog owners, and there are cat owners. There are even pet owners with mixed animal families. And while all animal lovers can be very different, they do have one thing in common: They consider their pets to be family, and they are willing to pay a great deal of money to ensure the health and well-being of their beloved animal pals.
In fact, according to the annual spending report released by the American Pet Products Association (APPA), Americans spent a record-shattering $72.56 billion on their pets in 2018—more than $35 billion of which was spent on veterinary care, medical supplies and over-the-counter medications, among other pet expenses. That’s a lot of love!
Veterinary expenses are an area that has seen big increases, primarily driven by newer technology and medications. Based on WalletHub’s calculations, dog owners can expect to shell out between $250 and $750 on vet care per year. Cat owners get off a little cheaper, paying between $160 to $560 a year. Multiply that over 15 years, and you could be spending a total of over $11,000 over the course of your pet’s lifetime! (You could be looking at an even higher amount if your pet has a longer lifespan: I personally had a Siamese cat that lived past 26 years old!)
With the reality of these costs, pet insurance businesses have entered the market to help consumers transfer financial risk to an insurance provider. The trick for consumers is finding the right pet insurance coverage at the right price—or deciding on an alternative plan for emergency or routine medical expenses.
Health insurance works very much in the same way for pets as it does for people: You pay a monthly premium, and your policy pays according to your plan in the event your pet requires emergency or routine vet care. Pet insurance may include deductibles, copays, and maximum cost caps like human policies do.
However, they may also have certain exclusions. Your pet’s species, breed, age, location and specific health conditions can all factor into the cost of its health insurance policy. For that reason, when you’re looking for coverage, it’s important to review the specific limitations that may be imposed on your particular pet. Another big difference between pet insurance and human health insurance is payment: Almost all pet contracts work on a reimbursement basis, meaning you pay the vet up front and then apply for reimbursement from the insurer.
Pet insurance premiums can run anywhere from $30 to $50 per month. Policies with higher deductibles often have lower monthly costs. This may seem pricey; however, when compared to the expenses incurred by emergencies and/or chronic diseases—treatments for which could cost tens of thousands of dollars—having the insurance in place could make a huge difference in your pet care decision-making process.
If you are interested in comparing coverages and pricing, TopConsumerReviews.com is a great website to visit for additional information.
As to whether or not pet insurance is right for your particular situation, it can be hard to say. If you have a tight budget, you may want to consider buying a higher-deductible plan at a lower cost to ensure you’re covered in the event of a catastrophic situation. If you are the type who will do anything to help your animal, insurance with greater coverage and a higher monthly cost may be a good option for you. Or, you might even be of the mindset that as long as your pet is well taken care of, nothing bad will happen. If you do decide to explore your insurance options, make sure you are clear on the cost, coverage and limitations before you commit to a policy.
If you are still undecided on whether pet insurance is right for you, it’s a good idea to at least set aside a small amount of money in a savings account each month, solely dedicated to your pet. That way, you have readily accessible funds you can use if you ever find yourself in an unforeseen emergency.
You know the old saying: “It’s not a matter of ‘if,’ but ‘when.’” And if you plan accordingly, you can be prepared for everything that comes along with having your loyal, loving companion by your side for years to come.
Share with us in the comments below: In what other ways do you prepare for pet emergencies?
The content provided in this blog consists of the opinions and ideas of the author alone and should be used for informational purposes only. VyStar Credit Union disclaims any liability for decisions you make based on the information provided.