is pet insurance worth it?

When we gain a new 4-legged friend, we ask a lot of questions, like, "What should I name them?" or "Where's the ball?!" In all the excitement, it's easy to forget about how we're going to protect them if they ever get sick, suffer an injury, or just need a general checkup. That's where pet insurance comes in.

when should i buy pet insurance?

It's always a good time to buy coverage for your pet if you haven't already, but it's especially great if you can purchase a policy while they're still young and healthy. Rates will increase as your dog or cat gets older, plus they're more likely to develop age-related health issues that might limit coverage options and even general insurability down the line.

If your pet's brand new to the world, it's best to buy a pet insurance plan before you take them to the vet for the first time. Every vet visit is documented, and if the vet notes a condition (chronic or not), it will stay on the animal's permanent record.

For instance, if your 5-year-old feline has a documented history of hairball problems and you're just now purchasing an insurance policy for it, the insurer may deem hairballs a pre-existing condition and deny reimbursement for any vet visits related to hairballs.

It's best, where possible, to avoid the hassle altogether and buy insurance before any records of your pet's medical history are established.

5 reasons to think about buying a pet insurance policy

Whether your pet is young and spry or graying around the whiskers, here are 5 reasons to get those paws (and everything else) protected.

1. Vet bills can be just as expensive as human doctor bills

One in 3 pets will require an unexpected vet visit each year due to injury or illness, according to Petplan, an Esurance partner. Your pup's fractured leg can rack up a bill of nearly $5,000, while kidney failure can set you back more than $18,000.

As veterinary medicine and technology continues to advance, vet expenses are expected to rise in the coming years. It's important to budget for unforeseen vet costs so you don't have to dip into your own medical emergency fund.

2. It can avert some very tough decisions down the road

Let's say you don't have an emergency fund or a pet savings account to pay for an unexpected vet visit after your cat was hit by a car (which, by the way, can cost upward of $3,500 to treat). Most pet parents will draw the line after spending around $500 on veterinary care, according to Consumer Reports.

Unfortunately, the next viable option for ending your pet's suffering in an emergency situation is usually euthanasia. To prevent having to make this incredibly difficult decision, pet insurance is there to help. With affordable monthly premiums and a handful of deductibles to choose from, reliable pet coverage will help ensure your pet is back in your arms in no time.

3. Regular checkups can help prevent major visits in the future

When we humans have a stomach ache, we generally don't wait until it turns into something much worse before we see a doctor. We usually trust our gut (pun fully intended) and make the appointment to be seen. We're able to do that because most of us have medical insurance.

We often don't consider the fact that we'd love to have the same option for our dogs and cats until we're facing a huge bill for our pet's care. What we often don't realize is that checkups and other routine treatments are usually covered by most pet insurance companies (and we'll speak more to this in #4!).

Making the effort to schedule regular vaccinations and dental cleanings can prevent bigger health issues for your pet in the future — and knowing you'll likely be reimbursed for the treatments up to the percentage you choose on your pet policy gives you all the more motivation to make the call.

4. Many pet policies cover things you (maybe) didn't know about

Many people are surprised when they hear the truth about what most pet insurance policies will actually cover. On top of "wellness treatments" (i.e. routine checkups, dental cleanings, and vaccinations), many policies will also help pay for:

  • Surgeries
  • Diagnostic tests
  • Medications
  • Treatments

In fact, preexisting and hereditary conditions are some of the only coverage exclusions in most pet policies — much like human medical insurance.

5. It provides peace of mind knowing your whole family is protected

Just look at that fuzzy face, staring back at you with wide-eyed (and often slobbery) adoration. It doesn't take much to immediately see our 4-legged friends as family members — and want to protect them as such. Pet insurance is one of the best ways to do just that.

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