A few decades ago, most people didn't even know pet insurance existed. Now, it's pretty common and even pet owners who don't have policies are wondering if they should get one. It can reduce out-of-pocket costs when visiting the vet, but it comes with costs of its own. Here are a few things that pet owners should keep in mind when deciding whether to invest in a policy for 2023.
What are the benefits of pet insurance?
Pet insurance works similarly to health insurance for humans. It helps cover some of the out-of-pocket costs when a dog or cat needs treatment for illnesses or injuries. Some policies also cover wellness visits, vaccines, prescription food, and more.
This can help reduce the owner's risk of large out-of-pocket bills, which is more important than ever right now. Veterinary prices have spiked 10% in the last year, according to AP, and they weren't cheap to begin with. A single emergency could amount to thousands of dollars, especially if the pet has to stay at the vet overnight.
For those without pet insurance, they either need to find a way to pay for these costs themselves or sometimes make the painful decision to put down their pet in order to spare them further suffering.
A pet insurance policy can make these unexpected expenses easier to fit into a budget because the insurer will pay for a large chunk of the bills if the condition is covered under the policy terms.
What do pet insurance policies cost?
Pet insurance policy costs vary depending on several factors, including:
- Policy type
In general, dogs are more expensive to insure than cats and older pets are more expensive than younger pets. Breeds that are prone to health issues may also cost more to insure, and those who live where veterinary care is more expensive will pay more as well. We'll look at policy types in a little more detail below.
A typical pet insurance policy has a premium, deductible, and a copay. The premium is the monthly cost the owner pays to keep the policy in force. Owners can get an estimate of this by getting quotes from pet insurers.
Once they've settled on a policy they like, they can choose their deductible and copay options. Deductibles usually range between $100 and $1,000. This is how much the owner will pay themselves for veterinary care each year before the insurer pays anything.
Copays are usually 10%, 20%, or 30%. That's the percentage of the bill that the owner must pay even after they've met their deductible. Companies may not write their copays as seen here. They often talk about "reimbursement levels," which are the rates that the insurer pays. But it amounts to the same thing. The remainder represents the owner's copay. For example, a policy with a 70% reimbursement level has a 30% copay.
How to choose a pet insurance policy
Pet owners who are interested in purchasing a pet insurance policy for 2023 should start by comparing quotes from several top pet insurers to see which offers the most coverage at the most reasonable price.
Many companies offer a choice of two main plan types: accident-only and comprehensive. Accident-only covers things like broken bones or a sharp object stuck in a paw. But it doesn't cover things like cancer. Those who want help with chronic illnesses as well as injuries will need to invest in a comprehensive policy, but these will cost more.
A lot of companies also offer optional wellness packages. Coverage options vary by plan, but they often include things like coverage for routine checkups and vaccinations. Some even cover alternative therapies like acupuncture or chiropractic care. It's usually possible to add this coverage to either an accident-only or a comprehensive plan.
In addition to looking at quotes, it doesn't hurt to check into the reputation of the company. And owners who have questions about what's covered shouldn't hesitate to reach out to the insurer. They may also be able to find a sample policy for review on the company's website.
Pet owners should use all of this information to help them choose the policy that's best for their budget and their furry friend's health. Hopefully, pets don't wind up needing their insurance, but you never know. A little preparedness could make caring for your pet a lot easier on your budget.
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