Have you heard of pet insurance? What is it? Why would you get it? Do you need it? These are all very good questions. At Albuquerque Vetco we keep our veterinary service costs as low as possible so your pet can get quality veterinary care for low prices. But we are a well animal vet clinic, which means that we do some surgeries like spays and neuters, vaccinations, and well animal checkups, If you need more advanced veterinary care you have to go to a full service clinic, and unfortunately that is where the costs start going up. If your cat or dog has a major health issue those veterinary bills can really start to stack up.

According to Forbes a routine vet checkup costs $212 for a dog and $160 for a cat. Thankfully at Albuquerque Vetco, our costs for a checkup are about 15% -20% of that! If a full-service vet clinic check-up costs over $200 you can imagine what surgery or ongoing disease treatment might cost. This is where pet insurance comes in.

What Does Pet Insurance Cover?

Pet insurance is like your health insurance. The point of it is to pay a portion of your veterinary bills, Depending on the insurance you get will determine what is covered. There are ones that only cover accidents, and there are ones that cover everything from wellness checks to illness and accidents. A “head to tail” coverage would be called comprehensive coverage. This will be the coverage that covers everything and it will also be the most expensive. Less expensive pet insurance will cover fewer things. You can often find a pet insurance plan that will cover as much or as little as you want. An example of this is Farmers Insurance offering an accident only plant that costs $9 per month for dogs and $6 per month for cats. Some insurance will even cover after life expenses such as cremations.

What is Not Covered?

Just like with human health insurance, pet health insurance has exceptions to what is covered. For instance, if your pet has a preexisting condition like an injury or diabetes, it will not likely be covered. If you want to do experimental treatments, like CBD, that will not likely be covered. Your pet’s food, even if it is prescribed by your Albuquerque vet, will not likely be covered. When you are looking at a pet insurance plan you want to make sure that you know what is and what is not covered so you don’t have any expensive surprises.

Pet insurance is not liability insurance. This means that it does not cover property damage caused by your pet, or if your dog bites someone and you get sued. Liability would be covered by your home insurance policy, or rental insurance policy, You may want to check to see what coverages extend to your pet.

Who Takes Pet Insurance?

Unlike health insurance, you do not have to worry about who takes your pet insurance. Typically pet insurance is based on reimbursement. This means that you pay for your vet expenses out of pocket upfront and then you submit receipts to your insurance company and they send you money to pay you back for your expenses. If you are not sure if a treatment will be covered, it is a good idea to call your pet insurance prior to the procedure to verify coverage.

Average Pet Insurance Premiums

Accident & illness coverageAccident only coverage
DogAnnual: $585.40Monthly: $48.78Annual: $194.09Monthly: $16.17
CatAnnual: $349.93Monthly: $29.16Annual: $126.08Monthly: $10.51
Source: North American Pet Health Insurance Association, premiums in 2019

Should You Get Pet Insurance?

This is the big question. There is no right answer. You really need to look inside yourself and decide what you would do in a pet health crisis. If your pet got cancer would you want to put them through chemotherapy? If you were required to spend $300 per month on diabetes medication, would you do it? The hard truth is that some people may not want to put their animals through treatment and would opt to let their pet live out their life or opt to put them down. Other people will choose to pursue medical treatment, even if it is expensive. If you are someone who would pursue expensive medical treatment, or would if it were a financial option, then pet insurance is a good idea as that would offset a lot of the big expenses. But just like any insurance, you are paying for a “just in case”. If your pet stays healthy and you never really utilize your insurance then you will have spent, potentially, a lot of money. Of course, we also hear the stories where a pet had an accident and if it weren’t for the pet insurance they would not have been able to afford treatment.

Getting pet insurance is a very personal choice and there are no wrong answers. Make sure you do your research and if you choose to get pet insurance that you get the coverage your truly want.