One of the areas of pet ownership of which I was not aware until a few years ago is pet insurance.  No, not like the old urban myth of the guy that got life insurance on his goldfish and collected, you probably can’t buy premiums on their lives.  But as someone who knows what I’m talking about, emergency vet care can be HIGH!

The cost of serious illness or injury to a human is bad, and for an animal it is almost as bad! There are ways to keep your pet safe and healthy in order to lower the possibility that you wouldn’t need pet insurance, but accidents happen. When considering pet insurance, you will need to do a little research by checking into several companies and asking the sales representative some pretty specific questions so you can get all the information you need. 

Vets are doctors and deserve their rates, but many dog owners are asked to choose between paying their mortgage or saving their dog’s life.  As an avid YouTube patron, I have seen people start Facebook pages asking for donations in the tens of thousands of dollars for surgery.  One hero dog that saved a child by taking the bites of a rattlesnake survived, but the vet costs were over $9,000 (he made it and the owner raised the money through GoFundMe).   It is estimated that 3 out of every 4 pets will need veterinary emergency care every year, but only 39% of households can afford more than $1000 in treatments.  Americans will spend about $18 billion dollars in 2018 on medical care for their animals.  The cost of Scooter swallowing something he shouldn’t?  About $1775, according to one pet insurance company.

Shirley

Shirley started to go lame in her hind legs. The vet found a spinal cord injury that cost $2666 to treat.  Her pet insurance paid all but $532.

Bradley

A neighbor’s dog chased Boomer into the street and he was hit by a car. His vet bill was $8527.  His pet insurance paid $7244 of the expense.

Theo

When Theo and his family moved to a new state, he developed allergies that caused itching and severe discomfort.  His allergy therapy cost $2783, but his pet insurance paid $1986 of the bill.

When considering pet insurance, you will need to do a little research

You are probably asking, “What can I do to get the best and cheapest pet insurance?”  First, pay the cost of an annual trip to your vet for a checkup to catch any problems in the making.  I never suspected my beloved Buddy had heartworm because his previous vet never checked.  However, my current vet did and all my dogs take monthly treatments now.  Next, feed your dog the best quality dog food you can afford.  There are a number of recommendations from different sources, and I have written a blog on them; you can also get my eBook on Doggie Diets for free by subscribing to my website.  From raw diets to kibble to canned, you make the choice.  Thirdly, take care of their teeth, also in another blog under the Dog Health tab.  Be aware of possible lurking problems for your breed of dog so you can be on the lookout for symptoms.  In addition, try to keep your boy or girl free from stress, at a healthy weight, and have plenty of water available at all times.  Finally, take care of any potential problems like poor appetite, skin conditions, breathing issues, and so on right away before they become life-threatening.

Coming back to pet insurance, more than 2 million animals are covered in the United States.  There are a number of companies offering pet insurance.  I first heard about it from USAA, my insurance provider.  The cost of the premiums varies from company to company, and read the information well.  Not every company covers every illness and injury.  Five categories you should discuss with an agent and you need to have is whether they cover:

  • Chronic disease without exceptions
  • Ongoing coverage after a chronic disease is initially treated
  • Congenital and hereditary diseases
  • Breed-specific diseases, and
  • Cancer

Ask about pre-existing conditions and if they are covered.  Are there deductibles?  What about testing and diagnostics in addition to treatment?  Otherwise, you might consider establishing a savings account in the amount of $10,000 for emergency pet care.  I’m not kidding.

Here are ten of the top pet insurance companies, but keep in mind I’m not recommending any of them.  Do your research and make your own choice.

  1. Pets Best bases your premium on your dog’s age, breed, location, and degree of coverage. They state they cover up to 90% of the expenses, but you need to call to get a quote
  2. ASPCA Pet Health Insurance
  3. Embrace Pet Insurance
  4. Hartville Pet Insurance
  5. USAA Pet Insurance.  Embrace is $34/month for $8000 cap and $200 deductible.  As I am a USAA member, I get 10% off additional pets
  6. Petplan Pet Insurance
  7. Pet Assure
  8. Pet First Pet Insurance
  9. Trupanion
  10. Pet Premium

My Sally was limping and I was worried she had broken her foot. Of course it was a Sunday and I had to go to an emergency pet clinic. When I had to put Lady down when she was bleeding out, I went there and the cost $190 for euthanasia and disposal.  They also had all kinds of memory items I could have bought if I wanted to. Sally went to the same place and for $113, I found it was probably a shoulder sprain and received three days of an anti-inflammatory medication.  I declined the blood work.  I was asked that if it was necessary, did I want CPR performed on her. The cost was between $500 and $800. She’s young, so of course I said yes, but holy cow! While I was in the waiting room, an older man came in with a dog that was obviously in very bad shape. He was crying as they carried the hound into a room. I heard him tell the receptionist the pet had been having seizures. I also heard the wife approve the CPR and that they had started it. What a horrible choice to have to make – money that many of us cannot afford or having to let your pet go. I certainly hope everyone with a fur baby out there doesn’t have to make that choice, but in thinking of it, perhaps start an emergency fund savings just for your pet or buy a pet insurance policy. Just in case.

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Is pet insurance really worth the cost? Consumer’s Advocate states that Americans spent over $17 billion on their pets in 2017. Owners spent $1.2 billion on pet insurance premiums. Even so, less than 1% to 2% of pets in the US are covered by insurance. Three out of four pets will have a medical emergency in their lifetime and when something like your dog getting hit by a car can run close to $5000, then yes, pet insurance is worth it.

Can I attach my pet insurance premium to my other types of insurance? Yes! Progressive Insurance says that for as little as $1 a day, you can get your pet costs covered up to 90%. Other companies that have pet insurance are Geico, USAA, and Nationwide.  Check into whether your car or health insurance company can help you out.