When you bring a new pet into the family, there are a lot of things you need to do to prepare. Most people think of things like buying all the right supplies or making sure your house is safe. But there’s one thing that’s just as important that’s often overlooked: pet insurance.
You obviously hope that your pet is completely healthy 100% of the time, but it doesn’t always work out like that. In the event that your pet needs serious veterinary care, having pet insurance really pays off.
What is pet insurance?
Pet insurance works just like health insurance. You pay a monthly fee (called a premium) in exchange for assistance with paying expensive pet bills. It’s one of those things that you hope you’ll never have to use, but you’ll definitely be glad to have it if you do.
How much does it cost?
The cost varies depending on a lot of different factors, such as breed, age, zip code, and type of insurance plan. Here’s an example of the pricing structure for Nationwide, a popular pet insurance provider. Let’s assume we’re looking for insurance for a small mixed-breed puppy in New York City:
- The basic plan would cost $17.75 per month, and it covers typical exams and shots up to $400 a year.
- The next level plan will cost you $33.22 monthly. This plan will help cover accidents, illnesses, and hereditary conditions up to a certain amount. There’s no maximum yearly amount, but you will have to pay $250 before the insurance kicks in (this is referred to as a deductible).
- The most comprehensive plan costs $66.81 every month. With this plan, your pet is covered for a much wider range of needs. Besides accidents and illness, you’re also covered for dental, behavioral treatments, alternative/holistic treatments, and wellness. Like the previous plan, there’s a $250 deductible and no maximum amount.
When should I get it?
Buying pet insurance right from the start is always the best option. You never know when something could happen to your new pet, so it’s better to be prepared. Plus, the plans are cheaper for younger, healthy animals.
“Pet insurance makes the most sense when your pet is young and the premium is a lower cost to you,” said financial advisor Brittany Castro, founder of Financially Wise Women. Castro also said that it “can definitely help you pay for any medical expenses that might come along during their lifespan.”
How do I get it?
There are many different companies that offer pet insurance plans. When choosing one, make sure the company fully explains all the fees and the exact type of coverage you’re getting. Be sure to ask about limits on certain conditions or breeds, how the price will increase as your pet ages, and how quickly the company typically provides payment. Be careful of any deal that seems unusually cheap or forces you to use specific veterinarians.
Some popular companies include Petplan, Nationwide, ASPCA Pet Health Insurance, Healthy Paws, and Trupanion. Ask you employer if they offer pet coverage, as some provide plans that may be a little more affordable.
While the process of finding and choosing a plan can be a bit complicated, it helps to do your research. Look into a few different companies and compare their plans to determine the best choice for you. Buying pet insurance is the least exciting thing about getting a new pet, but it’s something that all new owners should definitely consider.