Investing in pet insurance can be a great way to protect the quality of life of your pet. It could save you money on pet medical bills. It would also give you the assurance that you would be able to pay for pet medical emergencies down the line. However, if your pet ends up being healthy and strong, you could end up paying those monthly premiums for no reason.

However, there are a few factors to keep in mind before you make a decision.

Consider the Age and Breed of your Pet

The age and breed of your pet factors into the cost of the pet insurance plan. It will affect the monthly premiums and the coverage. Dogs of certain breeds are more likely to get sickness, disease and injuries than other breeds. Just like “people insurance,” pet insurance companies have complex algorithms that determine the likelihood of having to pay out large claims. Factoring that in will make coverage for certain breeds more pricey than others.

Consider Genetic Predisposition

Some pet breeds have genetic predispositions that make them much more likely to develop serious medical conditions. German Shepherds, for example, are prone to get hip dysplasia in their senior years. Several other larger dog breeds are susceptible to the same condition. Treatment for this and other pet health problems will run into the thousands. Without treatment, the consequences are heart wrenching.
If you own a breed of animal that has certain predispositions like this, then pet insurance is almost certainly a wise investment. Consult with your veterinarian to learn their thoughts on your pet’s genetic predispositions and whether pet insurance makes sense for your household.

Consider Coverage Options

When thinking about pet insurance, you will also want to make sure the plan covers illnesses that your pet is likely to get. You will need to figure out what your pet’s health risks are and how much you can afford to spend on monthly premiums. You’ll want to check with your pet’s vet to educate you about coverage options that you should be looking for. Be sure to carefully review any excluded conditions on the policy before purchase.

Per-Incident Deductibles

There are many types of pet insurance, including annual and per incident deductibles. A per-incident deductible is the amount you must pay before obtaining reimbursement for each occurrence for which you make a claim. Each disease, injury, or veterinarian visit that your pet encounters is considered an event. Prior to submitting a claim for an occurrence, you must pay your deductible. In contrast to other pet insurance policies that need you to fulfill a yearly deductible, you will pay a deductible for each event. Rather than being fulfilled once a year, your deductible is “reset” after each event. The cost for this type of deductible is typically lower than an annual deductible, but it’s still an expense that you need to consider.

Lost Pet Coverage

If your pet gets lost or stolen, there might be help available from your pet insurance policy. Some pet insurance companies offer terms that include reimbursement for lost pet rewards. So you could put out the word that you’re offering the safe return of your pet with a reward. If your lost pet is returned, the reward amount—determined by your pet insurance coverage—would be paid for by the insurance company.

Of course, you can get by without a pet insurance reward, too. Another way to locate a lost pet is to have the pet microchipped or equipped with a tracker that has a GPS chip. There are many companies that offer pet tracking services nationwide, so you are sure to find one that suits your dog’s needs. Some models have a limited battery life, but you can usually get a few months out of a model if you are willing to commit to it. There are also several companies that offer a pet tracker paired with a mobile app, which makes the process of retrieving your pet easier.

Benefits of Pet Insurance

The benefits of having pet insurance include having the financial resources available to pay for any medical care your pet may need. For some policies, this may cover routine wellness exams, teeth cleaning, and minor treatments such as for ear infections.
If something terrible happens, such as being hit by a car, getting arthritis, getting a broken bone or something similar, knowing that you have pet insurance to pay for your pet’s treatment is a wonderful thing.

Veterinary costs are surprisingly expensive. Like everything else, the cost for vet treatment has risen quickly in recent years. Even something so basic as flea and tick treatments often get into the hundreds of dollars. Pet insurance can cover or supplement these costs.

Cons of Pet Insurance

Pet insurance isn’t terribly expensive, but it is still an added household expense. If you pay a monthly premium over years, the cost of the insurance itself can quickly add up. And, if things go well, you may never need to make a large claim on your policy.

Alternatives to Pet Insurance

Depending upon your financial situation, pet insurance may or may not make fiscal sense. There are alternatives. These include:
Setting money aside in an account each month for veterinary bills. This way, if something does happen, you’ll have the money to pay for it. If nothing major happens, you’ll have the money to use for something else. If you start this savings habit when your pet is young, you could have a good amount saved up years later.

Another alternative is to just pay out of pocket for vet bills. If you’re a high income earner, it may not make sense to pay for pet insurance. Even if your pet needs costly surgery at some point, you could just pay out of pocket with little impact on your wallet. Of course, you need to weigh this with your ability to pay, and your perceived willingness to pay. Some people may not want to pay thousands of dollars to only extend a senior pet’s life for very little extra time. If you had pet insurance to pay for it, the decision would be more straightforward to go ahead with the costly surgery.

Whether or not to get pet insurance is not an easy choice. There’s no right answer for everyone. It is one that you need to make as a family, taking into consideration the factors mentioned above, including getting input from your veterinarian.