In honor of National Pet Health Insurance Month, we’ve put together this blog you can share on your practice website, that highlights education about pet insurance and what it offers for pet owners.
Check out our Facebook Live with Dr. Mark Stephenson discussing the importance of educating pet owners about pet insurance.
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We all hope our pets will live long and healthy lives. Yet the reality is, unexpected accidents, illnesses, and other pet medical situations happen. Veterinary medications can cost pet owners hundreds per month and veterinary surgeries can cost thousands.
According to a recent survey by the American Pet Products Association, less than 2% of pets are covered by pet insurance. So, when unexpected accidents and illnesses happen, they do not have a financial safety net. Instead, they must depend on credit cards, loans, or borrow money from friends or family when faced with unexpected veterinary costs, or worse.
Some may find themselves facing the agonizing decision to euthanize a pet because they cannot afford treatment, and no pet owner (or pet) should have to face such an experience.
To help you and your pet avoid such a situation, this handout is designed to empower better pet health care decisions by examining what pet insurance is, what it isn’t, and questions you need to consider prior to purchasing a pet insurance policy.
What Is Pet Insurance?
As with other types of insurance, pet insurance is the transfer of risk to a third party in exchange for paying a premium. In other words, you the pet owner are paying a premium to the pet insurance company for them to assume a portion of the risk for your pet’s covered medical expenses. Neither you nor the insurance company want your pet to be sick or injured, but by you paying the premium, the pet insurance company is assuming part of the economic risk instead of you.
What is the Purpose of Pet Insurance?
Like other types of insurance, pet insurance works by transferring the economic risk of having to pay for all of your pet’s medical expenses in exchange for paying a premium. Pet insurance should be purchased to transfer the risk of unexpected and unanticipated medical expenses that could be very expensive. The insurance policy is a contract that determines the claims which the insurer is legally required to pay following the payment of the premium. If you purchase coverage that transfers risk to cover every minor medical expense, you will pay more premium up front. Therefore, the smart purchase is to buy a policy that protects you for the amount that is above your ability or willingness to pay.
How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost?
Pet insurance typically costs $30 – $90 per month but can cost more based on the level of coverage and the breed of your pet and can cover up to 90% of vet bills. You can select the premium and amount of coverage by choosing the deductible, the co-insurance, and the annual policy limits appropriate for you and your budget. Some pet insurance policies offer premium discounts. A common discount is given for multiple pets enrolled from the same household. Others offer discounts for policies purchased online.
How Does Breed Impact Insurance Coverage and Costs?
As we all know, not all pets are created equal. As such, there isn’t just one flat premium amount that will cover every pet. First and foremost, there is typically a cost difference between what insurance will cost for a cat versus a dog. Cats typically see the veterinarian less than dogs and, if indoor only, are also less likely to incur an injury. There are also fewer genetic issues that impact cat premiums.
For dogs, on average, the least costly dog would be a mixed breed somewhere around 35-40 pounds, as they are typically hardier. Large purebred breeds are known for potentially expensive orthopedic problems: hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, cruciate tears, etc. Some breeds are known to have heart problems. Some purebreds are more likely to have genetic problems that can be passed from generation to generation.
Most insurance companies will price premiums based on breed because experience has shown that some breeds cost more to care for. The way this is done by some is by creating risk pools (certain breeds grouped together in the same premium categories). This allows all pet owners with similar high-cost breeds to share in the financial risk with other pet owners.
Where Can I Compare Insurance Quotes From Different Companies?
LifeLearn’s PetInsuranceInfo.com pet insurance information website helps pet owners easily understand more about what pet insurance is and isn’t, and provides a free Get a Quote tool, created to make it simple for pet owners to compare and review policies offered by different pet insurance companies.
Can You Summarize the Benefits of Pet Insurance?
To put it simply, pet insurance can provide you with the peace of mind and confidence to make better health care decisions that are in the best interest of your pet. By providing you with protection from the financial strain of unexpected medical costs, pet insurance gives you the ability to focus on what’s really important—being there for your pet when your pet needs you the most.