Dog Insurance Guide
Dog Insurance 101
Dogs really are man’s best friend. With gourmet pet food, an increasing array of health supplements and toys, as well as maintenance wellness and emergency medical care, it’s no surprise that dog owners spend quite a bit each month on their canines.
In fact, Business Insider estimated that in 2018, dog owners spent about $140 a month to keep Fido healthy and happy. Because medical costs can make up a large portion of that amount, many Americans are turning to dog insurance to protect their pocketbooks and their dog’s medical well-being.
Why dog insurance, though? Why not just pay for pet medical bills out of pocket? To understand the benefit of dog insurance, it helps to understand how it works and what it covers. With a few basic terms and concepts in mind, you’ll then be able to dig in and shop for the best dog insurance for your furry family.
What is Dog Insurance?
Similar to human health insurance, dog insurance helps protect your pet and your bank account from unplanned medical expenses. Dog owners purchase the insurance when their dog is well as a safety net should something go wrong. While some policies do cover wellness visits, the most common dog insurance is there to offer a reimbursement of costs should something unexpected happen, such as accidents or illnesses.
How Does It Work?
In recent years, a growing number of people have chosen to insure their dogs and other pets. The number of insured pets has jumped so much that employers have started offering pet insurance to their employees. Could it be that soon, people will demand pet insurance to be a part of every employee benefits package?
One of the reasons people love pet insurance is because it’s incredibly easy to use. Unlike human health insurance, there are no dog insurance networks. You simply take your dog for a checkup or treatment at any licensed veterinarian.
Dog insurance isn’t exactly like human insurance, however. Rather than only paying a copay, you’ll pay the entire cost of the vet bill upfront. Your dog insurance company will reimburse you for a certain percentage of the bill after you submit a claim with receipts from your vet, based on the type of dog insurance plan you purchased.
This is where due diligence is really important. The best dog insurance companies will reimburse their customers quickly and with no long delays. While affordable dog insurance is wonderful, be leery of any plans that seem too good to be true. Read reviews and research plan options, costs as well as coverage and exclusions. A dog insurance policy isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on if it doesn’t offer useful coverage or if it takes extended periods of time to be reimbursed for expenses.
What Does Dog Insurance Cover?
Dog insurance policies aren’t one-size-fits-all. The best dog 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 dog insurance into its basic categories:
Accident and Illness
The most common type of pet 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?
With so many different providers and levels of pet insurance available, the coverage and costs can vary widely. However, your pet’s age, species and breed, as well as where you live and the type of coverage you choose, all factor into your insurance rates. Additionally, older animals and larger animals also face higher pet insurance rates, as these groups tend to have the most health issues.
Below, data collected by The North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA) reports the estimated cost of a potential dog insurance policy in 2019.
Do I Need Dog Insurance?
We think of our pets as children, so it only stands to reason that we want to give them the best possible care.
Veterinary care can be expensive – it can cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars. Many pet owners struggle with how to pay for their pet’s medical care. According to the Animal Health Industry Report, during the average lifespan of a pet, a pet parent spends between $9,106 and $13,391 for veterinary care and medicines. According to the American Kennel Club, routine vet visits cost between $700 and $1,500 per year, and that figure doesn’t include emergency care or prescription medications.
Accident can happen at any time! While there are good reasons for all pets to have pet insurance, dogs, in particular, tend to be more active than, for example, an indoor cat. Because dogs usually spend time in the yard, go out for walks, and interact with people and other animals, there are many opportunities for incidents and injuries to occur.
Pet insurance might not be for everyone; some people may prefer to simply pay out of pocket whenever their pet needs medical attention. For a large number of people, however, affordable dog insurance can help make large, unexpected medical bills less of an impact. Paying a monthly premium and knowing that you’ll be reimbursed for a big bill can provide peace of mind, as well as the reassurance that your dog will always get the medical care he needs.