Pet Insurance: Is It Worth It?

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Coverage and Costs

Depending on the type of coverage you're interested in buying for your pet, which can run the gamut from "accident and illness only" to "routine care" options, expect to shell out about $25-64 per month for dogs, and $21-50 on cats -- that's about $2,000-$6,000 over a pet's lifetime. The size and breed of your pet could bump up the cost. For example, Pets Best Insurance charges a 10 percent higher premium on bulldogs because of their susceptibility to respiratory problems. Larger dogs are also more expensive.

Moreover, Brian Ianessa, a spokesperson for the Veterinary Pet Insurance Company, explains that if your pet is adopted, and, therefore, might not have up-to-date medical records, you will need to provide proof of a pet's physical exam within the past year if the pet is 3 years or older. Otherwise, a new physical exam is required. Pets that are not adopted do not need to undergo physical exams unless they are 10 years of age or older, in which case medical records and blood work are required prior to enrollment.

Keep in mind, too, that pets are in the same boat as humans in terms of finding insurance for a pre-existing condition, such as a broken limb or diabetes. Pet insurance is just not going to cover it. The same goes for cancer, unless the policy predates the illness.

Still, given the growing sophistication of animal medical care, technologies such as digital imaging and treatments such as chemotherapy, a trip to the vet's office can cost hundreds, even thousands, of dollars. Vets like Dr. Robert Adelman of Layhill Animal Hospital in Silver Spring, Maryland, hate to see a pet owner forgo a life-saving procedure due to prohibitive cost. "The best thing about pet insurance for us is that it helps people care for their pets when they otherwise might not be able to," he says, "and it helps me provide better care.

Continued on page 3:  Is It Really Worth It?


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