Cat Insurance Guide
Cat Insurance 101
Just like all family members, cats are subject to illness and injury. They also require wellness visits and maintenance care. While these vet visits are necessary to keep your feline feeling her best, they can also add up into the thousands over her lifetime. Cat insurance can be a helpful cushion – especially against unexpected veterinary costs.
Why cat insurance? It helps to take a look at how quickly even routine veterinary costs can add up. According to The Simple Dollar, the lifetime costs for a cat’s medications alone can run as high as several thousand dollars. This doesn’t factor in the cost of veterinary care, dental care, or vaccinations.
Is cat insurance right for you and your furry family? Before you decide to look for the best cat insurance, it helps to understand what it is, how it works, and how much it costs.
What is Cat Insurance?
For a responsible cat owner, veterinary care is a constant must. In fact, even during the lockdowns of the coronavirus pandemic, pet care continued to be a thriving industry. According to the New York Times, some vets saw 25% more patients during the pandemic than before.
The pet insurance industry also saw a boost, with more people looking to protect their pets’ health as well as their own financial wellbeing. Cat insurance policies provide a financial safety net against unexpected medical costs. Some policies even help you pay for ongoing wellness and maintenance visits. When searching for the most affordable cat insurance, make sure you take the time to read about each policy you’re considering to determine how each one works.
How Does It Work?
While human insurance requires you to pay a copay before a medical visit with insurance covering the rest (or a certain percentage) of the bill, cat insurance reimburses you after the visit. When you go to the vet for a wellness visit or a cat medical emergency, cat insurance requires you to pay for the visit upfront, submit a claim along with your receipts from the veterinarian, and get reimbursed from your insurance company.
Certain companies reimburse faster than others; the time period it takes is one of the factors many people use to choose the best cat insurance policy. This is helpful information to research before choosing a cat insurance company, as no one wants to wait a long time before receiving payment for a covered medical expense.
Another difference from human insurance? Cat insurance will allow you to visit any licensed veterinarian in the country; there is no such thing as pet insurance networks.
What Does Cat Insurance Cover?
Cat insurance policies aren’t one-size-fits-all. The best cat insurance will cover the greatest amount of items and incidents, while some policies will only cover accidents or routine care.
It’s helpful to break down cat insurance into its basic categories:
Accident and Illness
The most common type of cat insurance plan, this covers accidents as well as illnesses (digestive problems, infections, allergies, and cancer).
This type of plan covers accidents only (your pet being hit by a car, ingesting a foreign object, being poisoned, etc).
These plans only cover wellness visits and preventative treatments such as checkups, annual vaccines, and routine pet care. Some plans combine accident, illness, and wellness for a full spectrum of coverage.
Those looking for extremely affordable dog insurance will want to opt for an accident-only policy, while dog owners looking for more broad coverage will likely want to spend more for accident and illness coverage.
Keep in mind that only a certain percentage of each bill will be reimbursed, with more expensive policies paying back a larger percentage and more affordable dog insurance policies paying back a smaller percentage. You’ll also likely be subject to annual limit or per-incident on coverage for your pet.
How Much Does It Cost?
The cost of pet insurance depends on the type of plan you get. The most basic coverage with the lower annual limits will be the most affordable cat insurance. According to The North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA), the average cost of cat insurance in 2019 was around $11 to $30 a month.
When researching cat insurance costs and policies, be sure to read closely in order to understand exactly how each policy works. Most cat insurance requires the owner to pay the vet bill upfront and be reimbursed by the insurance company. In addition to this, pet insurance policies often contain specific exclusions for pre-existing conditions or certain types of treatment.
Being well-versed on these factors will help you weigh the value as you research the best cat insurance policy.
Do I Need Cat Insurance?
For cat owners with outdoor kitties, the need for cat insurance is more obvious. Outdoor cats can roam, get into fights with other cats and animals, ingest unknown items, and get hit by cars. Cat insurance can offer a useful buffer against unexpected costs associated with outdoor cat medical emergencies.
Pet owners with indoor cats may not immediately see the value in insuring their cats. “Why cat insurance,” they may think, “when my cat stays safely indoors?”
Indoor cats can run up their fair share of vet bills, as well – and the costs can quickly mount. In addition to routine wellness visits, dental care, flea, and heartworm prevention (indoor cats can get fleas and heartworms, too!), indoor cats can be subject to a whole host of unexpected medical issues.
Like outdoor cats, indoor cats can still get sick – whether it’s a bad cold, diabetes, thyroid disease, kidney failure, cancer, or an upset stomach. In addition, indoor cats can still have accidents. They still occasionally get into fights with other animals, whether it’s a rival cat or a family dog that comes too close. Cats are also notorious for eating dangerous items from Christmas tinsel to poisonous plants. While indoor cats tend to have fewer vet visits overall, it only takes one serious accident or health problem to cause major financial distress.
Whether you need cat insurance – or which kind is the best cat insurance for your pet – will depend on your finances, your cat’s overall health and pre-existing conditions, how much you would like to pay each month, and how much of each bill you expect to have covered. Cat insurance isn’t one-size-fits-all; with so many different policies available, it’s easy to find one that’s a good fit for your feline friend.