How Much Pet Insurance Do I Need?

Apr 3, 2020 | Personal Insurance

We love our pets and would, of course, want to make sure that if they do get sick or injured, finances won’t be a hindrance to their getting proper treatment. Once you’ve decided that you do need insurance for your pet, it really is equally important to decide how much insurance you’re going to get.

We’d want to get as much insurance as we can for our pets; but one very important consideration is that whether it’s $10 a month or $100 a month, nobody wants to pay more than they need to. And this is where ample research and discernment come in.

What are your needs?

When budgeting, it’s always wise to start with your needs. What type of protection do you need for your pet? Here are a few points you might want to consider:

  • If your pet gets into an accident or gets very ill, do you have the means to cover veterinary expenses? To put things in better perspective, let’s include numbers.
  • Pet visits can range from $50 to $400. An emergency could easily mean $500 out of pocket. We all wish our pets a life of good health, as we would anyone dear to us, but it would be good to know that we can afford a surgery or treatments for some common diseases when the need arises.
    A surgery for canine hip dysplasia, a condition common in larger breed dogs, could cost anywhere from a few hundred, up to a thousand up to $4500 or even more. Cancer treatments, including diagnostics, could easily reach $6000 to $8000.
  • What type of pet do you have? Does it belong to a breed known to be predisposed to certain diseases? Is it at risk of genetic conditions like allergies, cancer, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, or intervertebral disc disease?
  • What does an average day look like for you and your pet?

Is your pet popular on social media? Do you travel with your pet often? Does it have a habit of sneaking out of the house and tasting everything that looks good? Is exercise a part of its daily routine?

Basically, the more prone to illness your pet is, or the more your lifestyle exposes your pet to danger or accidents, the more you need insurance.

Find out what type of plans are available in the market

There are several pet insurance providers out there and each of them will have its own guidelines and its own sets of products. For example, there are those that won’t cover pre-existing conditions such as congenital heart failure or diabetes. There are those that won’t cover dental treatment nor provide coverage for certain types of pets (or breeds); but there are those that would provide coverage for every pet and every disease in the book.

It is also common for an insurance company to have several plans that provide coverage for different needs. For instance, Nationwide has the Pet Wellness plan which covers vaccinations and check-ups; the Major Medical plan which covers illness and accident-only, and the Whole Pet with Wellness plan; which is like the ‘executive suite’ of all plans where your pet will be covered for illness, accidents, and wellness care.

A few things about pet insurance you need to remember

  1. Having pet insurance doesn’t mean that veterinary bills or emergency procedures are won’t require you to have ready cash. You still need to have some funds for emergencies. But, the great thing is, as long as your policy is in place (meaning your payments are up-to-date), getting reimbursement for the unexpected expenses shouldn’t be a problem, and you get your emergency money back.
  2. Lower premiums could mean higher co-pays, and higher premiums could mean lower co-pays. When bills are just a couple of hundred dollars, a 20% or 30% co-pay won’t hurt. Having to shoulder $40 of a $200 visit to the vet might be okay for most. However, when we’re talking about surgeries or treatments that cost $5000 or more, a 20% co-pay would mean you’d have to shoulder $1000. Now, this is something you’d definitely want to keep in mind.
  3. You won’t save much if your pet will only ever need routine vet care. In these cases, what you pay for goes towards your own peace of mind that if anything does happen, you’re prepared and will not have to deal with additional expenses you may not even have the funds for.
  4. Coverage may have limitations, depending on the plan that you choose (or which company you choose to trust with your pet’s insurance). So, make sure you get your details straight before signing up.

Why it’s important to identify your needs and know what type of plans are out there

There are two basic reasons why you’d want to assess your situation quite accurately and why you’d want to have all the information you need to make a good decision for yourself and your dear pet.

You’d want ample coverage

You’re already going to be spending money on insurance each month to protect yourself against unexpected medical bills. You’d certainly feel awful when something comes up and you find that your policy doesn’t have it covered. Remember to always ask about the inclusions and exclusions of a plan. If anything is not clear, go ahead and ask for clarification–it’s your right to know what you’re going to pay for.

You don’t want to pay for something you or your pet most probably won’t benefit from

Vaccinations, for example, are very important. These are preventive measures to protect your pet from certain diseases. However, if your pet already has them, then there’s not much point in getting a plan that covers it unless that plan has other inclusions that would definitely benefit you.

Speaking of making sure you have sufficient coverage, did you know that those who have pet insurance have been found to have more pet visits than those who don’t? What does this tell us? This means that many of those who don’t have pet insurance aren’t always financially capable of getting the medical care their pets need. If it’s just the small things like grooming, that’s totally fine.

But what if the pets suffer from a condition that causes them chronic pain, or one that requires surgery or expensive treatment? As sad as it can be, the latter scenario is one major reason why pet owners end up opting to put their pets down. Surely nobody wants to go through this, right? 

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