While pet insurance may not seem like a needed investment, many pet owners are reconsidering its importance. In some cases, pet owners are better off setting up their own savings accounts for vet expenses, but there are also many people who may benefit from buying this type of insurance.
Special Breeds and Medical Problems
Some breeds are more prone to developing certain medical conditions. These conditions are often permanent and require regular treatments, which can be expensive. Most vet procedures are increasing in cost, so pet owners who foresee the possibility of multiple visits every year may want to consider buying pet insurance.
Additionally, those willing to spend anything to save a pet but unsure of finances may appreciate the peace of mind insurance provides. Many pet clinics ask for payment upfront, so some owners who cannot afford expensive treatments or surgeries are faced with the difficult decision of going into debt or having the animal euthanized.
Growing Veterinary Costs
Many pet owners often wonder why vet bills are so expensive. There are two main reasons costs are climbing.
First, veterinary science is advancing and bringing new treatments with it. Some of the breakthrough treatments are still difficult to provide, which means the cost will reflect this. Everything from cancer radiation therapy to organ transplants is now offered for pets. While once only used on humans, MRIs and imaging devices are also used on animals now.
Second, the cost of keeping up and running a veterinary business is increasing due to taxes, laws, and other economic issues. Vets also have to pay more for high-tech equipment and upkeep of that equipment. In addition, they have to pay for their own malpractice insurance. All of these costs are then passed on to pet owners.
Many of America’s Pets Lack Adequate Coverage
Research shows that Americans spent more than $45 billion on their pets in 2009. Of this amount, more than 25% was spent on veterinary care. Of the 82 million cats and 72 million dogs reported as pets in 2007, only 850,000 animals were insured. Insurers and pet-friendly organizations have teamed up to help remedy this situation by offering pet coverage as a workplace benefit. Employers should consider adding this to their benefits package.
Consumers who do not have this workplace benefit and are considering buying pet coverage should review the following tips:
- Shop around to compare the various providers before making a decision. Plan inclusions and pricing vary greatly from one company to another.
- For those with multiple pets, some companies offer discounts for insuring more than one pet.
- Ask about copay amounts, deductibles, and caps. Find out if maximums are annual or based on a lifetime.
- Make sure the company is registered with the state.
- Read the exclusions carefully.
If Pet Insurance Isn’t Right for You
If pet insurance is not the right investment for you, here are a few other tips that may lower vet bills:
- Take advantage of low-cost vaccination clinics at pet stores, animal shelters, or veterinary offices.
- Ask vets for samples whenever medications are prescribed.
- Make sure pets maintain a healthy weight.
- Seek a second opinion before starting costly treatments.
- Avoid using cheap pet food that can cause medical problems.
- Look online for lower medication prices.
- Do not keep pets outdoors all day and all night.
- Keep pets on leashes while walking them to avoid accidents.
For those who have yet to acquire a pet, it is important to research breeds before deciding which type of cat or dog to purchase.