Pet Insurance: To Buy, or Not to Buy?
Over the past decade, pet insurance has become a hot commodity among pet owners. While the first policy appeared in 1982—more than three decades ago—it hasn’t been until recently that these policies have become a popular option for our fur family members.
Today, a simple Google search will turn up page after page of different policies and programs you can purchase for your pet. For many of us, though, the overwhelming number of options creates more difficulty deciding what’s best for our pets.
We’ve put together a simple Q&A guide to help you make the right decision when it comes to buying—or not buying—pet insurance for your pet.
Should I buy pet insurance for my pet?
This is, of course, the first question—and ultimately the hardest one to answer. Pet insurance is great for older pets or for breeds that are known to have more serious health problems (we’re looking at you, English bulldogs). But the truth is, unless your pet already has health problems or concerns, you’ll never know for sure if your pet will eventually benefit from such a plan. Just like health insurance for humans, you never know that you’re going to need it until you need it.
A few questions to help guide your decision:
- What is my pet’s medical background? Pure breeds can have breed-specific challenges, but rescue pets might have a history that you’ll never be fully aware of. Both are things to consider when trying to predict future challenges.
- How good is my pet’s preventative care and wellness care today? Are you consistent with annual visits, dental care, and vaccinations for your pet? Do you keep up with monthly preventative medications for fleas and ticks? What kind of diet do you feed your pet? Preventative care matters when it comes to your pet’s future health. Take an honest look at your pet care habits now when assessing your need for pet insurance.
- What do I think my pet will need in the future? Do you just want coverage for annual care, or are you more concerned with a big-ticket health crisis that could arise unexpectedly? Like any type of insurance, you’ll pay for the coverage that you want, so be clear about your needs, your concerns, and your budget. This kind of financial and wellness planning can help you better determine whether you’d prefer to save up for long term care, build pet wellness care into your monthly budget, or buy insurance as a buffer.
Which insurance plan should I buy for my pet?
Like any insurance policy, you’ll want to read the fine print. Know what the policy does and doesn’t cover, how much you’ll spend on it monthly, and if there are any restrictions on the type, age or breed of pet that the insurance covers. By taking a little additional time here, you can avoid costly problems in the future—problems that may prevent the insurance payout at a time when you need it the most.
You’ll also want to consider your own veterinarian, and what insurance plans they take in the veterinary office. Policies can vary from office to office, so if you are set on keeping your vet, you’ll want to make sure to have a plan they’ll accept. Most veterinary hospitals are rather flexible and accept many insurance company’s plans.
Trupanion is the pet insurance that we start our patients on when they come in as puppies and kittens. Trupanion offers 30 days of free medical insurance coverage for any pet, but this coverage is especially advantageous in the early stages of life.The coverage begins immediately after completing an easy online form; registration must be done within 24 hours of a veterinary exam.
No matter which policy you choose, at Ambassador Animal Hospital, we work hand-in-hand with you, and with your pet insurance company, to help you get reimbursements for services in a timely manner.
Are there options outside of pet insurance that can protect my pet’s future health?
At Ambassador Animal Hospital, we highly recommend that you set up a separate savings account for pet care and wellness. At your next appointment, ask us to take a little extra time to walk through budgeting for pet care with you. Based on the number of animals you have, breeds, sizes, and ages, we can help you estimate a yearly pet care budget. Add a little extra to the total for unexpected sickness and emergency services, divide the total by 12, and set aside the correct amount each month. Best of all, you won’t be paying for a policy you might never use—but if you need money for lab tests or surgery, it will be there.
Another option that we offer, if you are adding a new puppy or kitten to your household, is to purchase a wellness package for your new addition. This is a great way to ensure you are keeping up with their basic wellness care, while also saving a lot of money in the process.
As with any major medical expenditure, purchasing pet insurance is a big decision, and not one to take lightly. Do your research and know what you’re getting into with a pet insurance policy. Or, better yet, ask us for a recommendation at your next appointment—we are your partners in pet care and are here to make sure your cat or dog gets the best possible care at the most affordable price.