What Is Pet Insurance and Do You Need It?

What exactly is pet insurance, and how can pet insurance help you? In a nutshell, pet insurance is an insurance policy for your pet that can reimburse you for a portion of your pet’s eligible veterinary bills when your fur-friend needs medical care. The available policies can vary widely based on the type of animal you’re covering as well as the breed, but to simplify the discussion, we’ll cover two types of pet insurance tracked by NAPHIA: accident-only and accident and illness.

Accident-only coverage is pretty much what it sounds like — it is designed to cover medical expenses in case Killer Mike, your Chihuahua, breaks off his leash and injures himself protecting you from someone riding a bicycle nearby. What constitutes an accident should be defined in the policy you choose, but generally speaking, this coverage is meant to handle expenses due to a run-in with a car, a laceration, poisoning or swallowing the squeaky part of that dumb toy he loves so much. In 2019, the average monthly accident-only premium for a dog was $16.17, and the average annual accident-only premium was $194.09. Cat coverage was slightly less expensive; the average annual premium was $126.08, and the average monthly premium was $10.51.

Accident and illness coverage is designed to take care of the expenses mentioned above, plus illnesses such as cancer, infections and digestive problems. Some accident and illness coverage may also reimburse you for part or all of your preventative care. Because an accident and illness policy generally covers more vet expenses, it’s typically a more expensive product. The average monthly premium for a dog’s accident and illness policy was $48.78 in 2019, and the average annual accident and illness premium was $585.40. For a cat, the average monthly premium was $29.16, and the average annual premium was $349.93.

Now the real question: Is pet insurance worth it? The answer is a qualified maybe. Policies can vary widely based on species and breed, and each policy has its own list of exclusions and reimbursements. In addition, when you create a policy for your Maine Coon, Princess Fluffy Toes, you’ll have to decide on a deductible (which is generally defined as the amount you must pay out of pocket before your insurance provider begins to pay any expenses), your reimbursement percentage and your annual limit. The math is pretty straightforward here — generally, the more you choose to cover, the more you’ll pay in premiums.

This content is shared for educational and informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional or financial advice and should not be relied upon for making insurance, financial or other decisions. Please consult your attorney or insurance professional before acting on any content on this website.

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