March 28, 2023

Here’s why people get pet insurance

Have you ever thought about getting pet insurance for your dog or cat? If so, you have joined a growing number of pet parents seeking ways to cover the rising costs of their furry family members’ care. Here’s a brief look at why people get pet insurance, the types of coverage available, and how to manage your policy.

We own a lot of pets

According to the 2021-2022 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA), 70% of U.S. households own one or more pet. This equates to about 90.5 million homes. Of these pets (cats, dogs, birds, fish, reptiles, horses and more), 69 million households have dogs and 45.3 million have cats.

As pet ownership has increased over the past 30 years, the cost of veterinary care has also steadily risen. In fact, these increasing care costs are why more people are seeking out pet insurance to help cover both the routine and emergency costs at the vet’s office. According to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA), the number of insured U.S. pets grew by 28.3% in 2021 alone, with nearly 4 million dogs and cats covered. And while the number of pets insured is still a relatively small percentage of the dogs and cats owned in this country, it only continues to grow.

Pet insurance helps curb costs

In addition to measuring pet-ownership rates, the APPA survey looked at annual individual veterinary-care expenses for dog and cat owners. Costs for routine ($242) and surgical ($458) veterinary care for dogs reached a combined total of $700 for the 12-month period of the study. For cats, these expenses, at $178 and $201, respectively, totaled $379. If you own more than one dog or cat, costs like these are compounded.

Just like human insurance, pet insurance is designed to defray routine expenses and provide coverage for the unexpected (and often extremely high) costs for emergency or illness care. According to NAPHIA, the average annual cost for an accident and illness pet policy is approximately $584 (approx. $49 per month) for dogs and $343 (approx. $29 per month) for cats. Accident-only policies cost $239 (approx. $20 per month) and $130 (approx. $11 per month) annually for dogs and cats, respectively. On comparing the average costs of care against average policy costs, many people reach the conclusion that it’s worth it to have the pet insurance. Read this Bradish Case Study looking at one dog owner’s experience with pet insurance.

How pet insurance works

Pet insurance policies can include the following benefit options:

  • Both accident and illness coverage, which includes accident benefits plus illnesses such as cancer, infections and digestive problems
  • Accident-only coverage, such as ingesting foreign bodies, lacerations, motor vehicle accidents, ligament tears, and poisoning
  • Comprehensive coverage, which often includes vaccinations, early screening diagnostics, consultations for proper nutrition, and dental care
  • Specific add-on endorsements — riders such as wellness or cancer endorsements

Basics of managing your policy:

  • For most pet insurance carriers, you will deal directly with the insurer to file claims. Be sure to be familiar with your policy and what is covered.
  • You pay your vet bill, get an itemized receipt and then complete and submit the claim form to the insurance company.
  • The insurance carrier will reimburse you at the level you initially selected for your policy (this could be 70%, 80% or 90%) for covered expenses. Reimbursement will be either through direct deposit or check.
  • Remember that your deductible amount will automatically be deducted from your first claim of the policy period.
  • You will only be reimbursed up to your policy’s coverage maximum (such as $5,000) for the policy year.
  • A few carriers offer a convenient phone app to manage medical information and claims easily.
  • Discounts for insuring multiple pets are often available.

When to get pet insurance

It’s important to note that pet insurance gets more expensive as your pet ages, so it’s best to get the policy while your pet is young and healthy. Pre-existing conditions typically are not covered. It’s too late to get pet insurance after your six-year-old cat has been diagnosed with a cancerous lesion.

Plus, pet insurers have waiting periods for certain congenital conditions, such as hip dysplasia. You may have to wait six months before your policy will cover an issue with your Labrador Retriever’s hips, for example.

Today, more than ever, pets are truly part of the family. As veterinary-care costs continue to rise, people are increasingly choosing to get pet insurance to offset those expenses. If pet insurance makes sense for your furry family members, feel free to contact your Bradish agent to help you find a policy that addresses your specific needs.

by Kris A. Mainellis