Being a dog owner, this topic surely crossed your mind at some point or another. While convenient for a peace of mind, health insurance plans are everything but cheap. And the question is – do they really pay off? And another thing that arises – are you just asking for trouble as you might not even need it. The truth is no one wants to face this decision, so we did our best to make it as painless as it could possibly be for you to know all the facts so you can make the decision that’s in your (and your dog’s) best interest.
Is it worth it?
Yes and no. If you’re financially secure enough to pay a large sum out of pocket for emergency pet care, you can probably do without insurance. On the other hand, if you are not able to take out a large sum of cash for an unexpected treatment that your dog might need, you should definitely consider taking out an insurance policy.
Is dog insurance being expensive a myth?
The truth is that pet insurance being ‘expensive’ can be a misconception sometimes. This refers to cases where, for example, you would pay around $50 a month and this pet insurance could end up saving your dog’s life. What often happens is that when a dog is diagnosed with a severe diagnosis, i.e. cancer, many owners are forced to turn down treatment because they cannot afford the bills. And in these cases, vet bills can hit you as much as $8,000, whereas a pet insurance would cover a vast majority of the treatment. So, in such cases it’s definitely not expensive. What is definitely true is that pet insurance will allow you to make the best choices instead of the least expensive ones if an emergency arises.
It can even prevent tragedy scenarios…
Unfortunately, what sometimes happens when a pet owner cannot handle the economic cost of treatment is ask the vet to put their pet down. This so-called ‘Economic euthanasia’, a term so dreadful it doesn’t need any further explanation so all owners who never want to be caught in this dreadful scenario should definitely consider taking pet insurance.
What can a pet insurance cover?
There are 3 types of pet insurance coverage: accident, illness and wellness. Depending on your preference, you can sign up for 1, 2 or all 3 of these coverages. Please note that not all pet insurance companies offer wellness plans).
It’s hard to define every single diagnosis under this category as accidents are by nature, unexpected and unpredictable. But, all accidence insurance policies will have you covered for bites, torn ligaments, broken bones, and all sorts of wounds.
You’re surely thinking – I only might need this once my dog gets older. Well, that’s the trick, unfortunately. Many pet insurance companies limit their illness coverage as pets age. So, it’s important to get insurance while your pet is young to reduce pre-existing condition exemptions and your monthly cost. Illness insurance cover conditions like cancer, pancreatitis, arthritis, even allergies and more conditions like UTIs etc.
This area is becoming more and more popular and of course, depends on how well you take care of your dog. But these plans are now often included as ‘add-ons’ to regular insurance plans. Keep in mind that an annual vet visit can cost you around $250, depending on the vet and your location. So, taking a bit from your budget every month does sound like a good idea. Such plans cover:
- Annual exams
- Routine vaccinations (rabies, especially when entering EU), DHLP, Bordetella (kennel cough), Lume
- Parvo, Lyme (transmitted by fleas, common in the Mediterranean) – you need to check with your vet which ones refer to your location.
- Spray/neutering procedures
- Routine blood tests
- Heartworm testing
- Regular teeth cleaning (once a year ,or more often)
- Flea, tick and heartworm treatments (every month!)
The obvious one is that you’ll never need to choose between your wallet and your dog. And no matter how well you take care of your furry companion, accidents do happen. And with pet insurance, you can sleep peacefully knowing you’ll be reimbursed for the majority of the costs.
What to look out for
First, try to narrow down which conditions your dog is susceptible to and then start looking into specific plans.
For example, chances are your dog will need prescription drugs even for a non-threatening case of ear infections, so prescription drug coverage is essential.
Plan based on actual bills
Next, go for coverage based on actual vet bills, not the one ‘deemed by the insurance provider’ as you are supposed to pay first and then get reimbursed. Otherwise, if your vet charges more for a procedure than your insurance company deems necessary, you’ll have to pay the difference.
A lot of insurance providers show the maximum covered, with the bar going up with premium options. Yet, some offer a deal saying that you will receive a coverage of $5,000 of total coverage, but only 20% of that is available for surgery. And if the condition you are worried about would mainly involve surgery, this surely isn’t a good deal for you.
Making a decision
The truth is that whichever option you get you are likely to pay more in premiums than get back in claims. But the greatest benefit of pet insurance is definitely that you can rest assured that no matter what happens, you are able to afford the best care to your canine companion. Of course, not every pet is the same. and everyone needs to do their own risk analysis when bringing a pet of any kind into their home. The good news is that a lot of providers are now also starting to include holistic therapies into their packages. These sort of “dog SPA” treatments can be used to help prevent the onset and progress of some illnesses and in a less invasive manner and with fewer side effects than some traditional medication, which is why they are often a great compliment to traditional therapy.