Pets are an important part of our lives, so when they become sick or get injured, we want to do whatever we can to help them. But veterinary costs are rising, with some treatments or emergency services costing thousands of dollars, if not more. According to the 2016 APPA survey, pet guardians in the U.S. spent over $15.95 billion on veterinary care alone. And these costs can leave pet guardians worrying about how they will afford the care for their pets needs, or being faced with having to euthanize their pet if they can’t afford costly cancer treatments or life-saving surgical procedures.
For those hoping to prevent facing such tough decisions, pet insurance has been marketed as an effective solution, offering coverage and reimbursement for expensive procedures and visits to emergency clinics. But the coverage policies offer can vary, and most exclude coverage for annual wellness exams or pre-existing conditions.
So is pet insurance really worth it, and does it save us any money in the long run? We at One Green Planet were wondering the same thing, so we did a bit of research to find what’s out there and determine the pros and cons of three popular pet insurance policies.
ASPCA Pet Health Insurance
The ASPCA offers pet health insurance policies for dogs and cats under three levels of coverage: Accident-Only, Injuries and Illness, and Complete Coverage. The Accident-Only policy only covers accidents and emergency situations, where the Complete Coverage plan gives the most comprehensive coverage, including hereditary and congenital conditions, and behavioral issues like anxiety.
- Choice of three plans, each offering different types of coverage
- Ability to customize your plan to fit your budget by adjusting the annual deductible, annual coverage limit, and reimbursement percentage.
- Annual wellness exams, vaccinations, routine dental care, routine tests, spay/neuter surgeries, and preventatives for heartworm and fleas and ticks are not covered — but you can add preventative care coverage for an additional monthly fee.
- Pre-existing conditions are not covered unless your pet has been cured and been free of symptoms for six months.
- Holistic and homeopathic treatment and supplies are not covered
- Significantly higher premiums for elderly pets (based on test quote)
GEICO/Embrace Pet Insurance
GEICO offers one comprehensive plan for dogs or cats through Embrace Pet Insurance. The plan covers accidents, illnesses, genetic conditions and chronic conditions. The monthly premium is offered at three different levels, with varying annual deductibles.
- One comprehensive plan that covers most non-routine procedures, with the option to customize annual coverage and deductible amounts.
- Discounted premium for spayed or neutered pets
- Coverage for congenital and hereditary conditions
- Coverage for alternative and holistic treatments
- Annual wellness exams, vaccinations, routine dental care and spay/neuter surgeries and preventatives for heartworm and fleas and ticks are not covered — but you can add a Wellness Rewards option to your insurance for an additional fee to cover these costs.
- No coverage for pre-existing conditions
- Slightly higher premiums for elderly pets (based on test quote)
Petplan Pet Insurance
Petplan pet insurance offers one comprehensive plan for dogs and cats that cover non-routine procedures as well as illnesses, hospitalization, and hereditary and chronic conditions. The monthly premium is offered at three different levels: basic, recommended, and premier. The difference in each option is the annual deductible, annual coverage amount, and reimbursing percentage.
- One comprehensive plan can be by choosing your own annual coverage amount, annual deductible, and reimbursement percentage.
- Coverage remains the same, even if you customize your annual coverage and deductible amounts.
- Alternative and holistic treatments are covered
- Congenital and hereditary conditions are covered
- Annual wellness exams, vaccinations, routine dental care, and spay/neuter surgeries are not covered.
- Pre-existing conditions are not covered
- Higher premiums for elderly pets (based on test quote)
- Annual wellness exams are required to keep the insurance policy active.
Is Pet Insurance the Right Choice?
Should you invest in pet insurance? Well, it depends on factors like your pet’s breed, age, and medical history. The exclusion of coverage for annual wellness exams, routine care and pre-existing conditions (unless you pay additional fees) is a downside and plans often charge a higher premium for older pets. Another thing to consider is that unlike insurance coverage for humans, pet insurance requires you to pay all expenses upfront, then submit a claim for reimbursement — so you’ll still need an emergency fund to cover any unplanned veterinary expenses.
If you have a younger pet who’s healthy, but frequently gets into mischief that results in a trip to the vet, insurance could be worth the investment. There are a lot of plans and options out there, so take the time to do your research and determine what best matches your pet’s needs and your budget.
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