One of the most important aspects of being a responsible cat guardian is ensuring regular health care for your cat throughout his life. All cats should have annual wellness exams, and older cats should see the veterinarian twice a year. Costs for routine exams vary; depending on what part of the country you’re in, they will range anywhere from $45 to $150 (exam only). And that’s only well cat care. Illnesses and accidents can quickly increase those costs, the average cost for a visit to an emergency vet can easily run between $1000 and $2000, depending on the severity of the problem.
Additionally, advances in veterinary medicine make it possible to treat medical conditions in pets that would have been a death sentence a decade ago. From chemotherapy to kidney transplants, pets can now receive almost the same level of medical care as humans. Of course, all of these treatments come with a price tag.
As a result, pet insurance has become increasingly popular over the past decade. There are several companies offering a variety of plans, and deciding whether pet insurance is right for you, and choosing the right plan, can be overwhelming.
How do you determine whether pet insurance right for you?
Could you afford an unexpected $1000 or $2000, should your pet become ill? If your answer is no, pet insurance may be a viable option. You may not like paying a monthly premium, but, just like human health insurance, you may be glad you paid the premium if you ever need to use the coverage for your pet.
Pet insurance is all about risk management. Some clients may pay more in premiums than they receive in reimbursements (and they would be the lucky ones with healthy pets), but they’ll know that, should something catastrophic happen to their pet, they’ll be covered. Pet insurance companies are in business to make a profit, so they need to generate more money in premiums than what they pay out to pet owners.
Some pet guardians may prefer to put aside a certain amount of money each month into a savings account dedicated to pet care expenses instead of paying monthly insurance premiums. The advantage of doing so is, of course, that, if your cat needs little beyond annual well visits, the money belongs to you, not the insurance company. The risk is that you may end up with unexpected and expensive vet bills, should your cat need additional care. Saving for pet care expenses may also require more financial discipline than paying a monthly premium bill.
If pet insurance seems like a viable option for you, do your homework. Research the different plans carefully. Read the fine print. Premiums and coverage vary widely from plan to plan.
The following questions can help you choose a pet insurance provider:
- Is the company licensed in your state?
- Does the company have a good reputation? How long have they been around?
- Is the policy information easy to understand?
- Does the company offer customer service during business hours?
- Can you see any veterinarian you want?
- How much have premiums increased over the last few years?
- Will premiums increase as your pet gets older?
- What is covered and what is excluded from coverage?
- What is the company’s policy on pre-existing conditions?
- Does the company cover benefits for wellness visits and preventive care?
- Does the company cover holistic care?
- Is there a waiting period before coverage becomes active?
- Is there a maximum age for enrolling your cat?
- Are there reimbursement limits per case, per year, per lifetime?
- Is a physical exam required prior to enrollment?
There is no one size fits all answer to the question of whether pet insurance is right for you and your cat. It is a personal decision that needs to take your financial situation and your risk tolerance into account.