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Is Pet Insurance Worth the Cost?

Written By
10 min read

Updated - Aug 11th, 2022

Every pet parent wants to be able to say ‘yes’ to the best care available for their pet, and if your pet ever faces an unexpected accident or illness, the last thing you want to do is make a decision for their care based on where your finances stand. 

This is where pet insurance can help. By reimbursing you for covered veterinary bills, pet insurance plans can help give you peace of mind knowing that you’ll have help getting your pet the care they may need to keep them healthy and happy.

It can be challenging to decide whether to enroll in a pet insurance plan and pay the costs of premiums, or pay your veterinary bills yourself as and when they pop up. Many think sure, pet insurance plans can help, but are they really worth it? Do the costs of pet insurance plans match the value of having coverage? Here, we’ll break these questions down one by one to help you choose the right solution for you and your pet.

How much does veterinary care actually cost?

If you’re considering getting pet insurance or just want to learn more about it, chances are you’re wondering if it’s a worthwhile investment to help cover the eligible veterinary bills that stack up each year for pet accidents and illnesses.

Veterinary bills over the course of your pet’s life can add up more quickly than you might think. For example, the average cost of treatment for a fractured leg is $2,250,2 while the average cost of treatment for a toxin ingestion (think, an accidental chocolate poisoning) is $1,052!2 

In fact, over a pet’s lifetime, families can expect to spend ~$16,600 on vet care for dogs6 and ~$13,350 on vet care for cats!8 This isn’t to say that every pet parent will spend this much over the life of the pet, but it’s a good guide as to how much your veterinary costs will be. 

What is pet insurance and how does it work?

Before you can make a decision about pet insurance, you need to know what it is and how it works for you. If you’re not sure how pet insurance plans work, we’re giving you a crash course. 

Pet insurance options offer you accident and illness coverage. This means that if your pet gets hurt or sick unexpectedly, pet insurance could reimburse you for the costs of your pet’s eligible veterinary care. For example, if your dog sneaks a batch of chocolate chip cookies off the kitchen counter and gobbles it up (which is a huge ruh-roh as chocolate is toxic to dogs!) a pet insurance plan could cover this accident and reimburse you for the eligible cost of the resulting emergency vet visit. 

It’s tempting to think that pet insurance works in a similar way to human health insurance, but it actually works quite differently. Pet insurance is property and casualty insurance. With a lot of pet insurance plans, first you usually pay the cost of your pet’s veterinary care up front, then submit a claim for the eligible cost of care to your pet insurance provider. 

Assuming you’ve already met any applicable deductibles that might be in your plan, if your claim is approved, you’ll be paid back for eligible vet bills. Pet insurance plans may have additional limitations, like an annual limit, a reimbursement percentage, exclusions, and other terms. With Pumpkin Pet Insurance plans, the reimbursement percentage is 90%. 

The tricky part is that pet insurance plans differ greatly from provider to provider, so it pays to research the ins and outs of your specific plan coverage. To make the evaluation process a bit easier, we created this easy-to-use compare page. It’s always a good idea to check out providers’ sample pet insurance policies as well.  

Why should I get pet insurance?

Putting the cost of pet insurance to one side for a second, there are several great reasons why you might consider pet insurance and purchase a plan for your pet. 

If you have pet insurance, your plan options could:

  • Help give you peace of mind that your pet has coverage for future accidents & illnesses
  • Help you prepare for your pet’s future eligible health care needs as they age, even if your pet is currently young and healthy 
  • Help you afford the costs of eligible veterinary care over your pet’s lifetime
  • Help you provide the care your pet may need for everyday accidents & illnesses like swallowed socks, parasite infections, or digestive illnesses
  • Help ease the financial stress of accidents & illnesses that may require costly treatment like hip dysplasia, cancer, or debilitating illnesses
  • Help you get more treatment options if your pet gets hurt or sick that can better their quality of life, like acupuncture and hydrotherapy
  • Help you access the most advanced and cutting edge treatment options for your pet such as stem cell therapy

What does pet insurance cover and not cover?

What are the types of accidents & illnesses that an accident & illness pet insurance plan option could cover? Well, imagine you enroll your pet in a Pumpkin Pet insurance plan. 

Here are some examples of covered accidents:

  • Injuries like bite wounds or hot spots 
  • Orthopedic injuries like fractures or cruciate ligament injuries
  • Swallowed objects like socks, rocks, sticks, and more
  • Ingested toxins, like poisonous plants or toxic foods such as chocolate

Here are some examples of covered illnesses:

  • Parasite infections and diseases
  • Skin infections and diseases
  • Respiratory illnesses like kennel cough
  • Digestive illnesses

A plan with extensive coverage, like a Pumpkin plan, also cover these accidents & illnesses:

  • Hereditary and breed-specific conditions, like hip dysplasia
  • Congenital conditions, such as heart defects
  • Dental illnesses, like gum disease
  • Behavioral issues, like anxiety or aggression
  • Preventable illnesses, like fleas or lyme disease
  • Cancer

Make sure to read sample policies to understand all of the terms, limitations, and other exclusions that may apply to your coverage options.

Standard pet insurance plans are usually not meant to cover routine care (also called preventive care), so things like annual vaccines or wellness checkups are usually not covered by standard pet insurance plans. However, some providers offer wellness packages or preventive care coverage plans. Things that are not covered by a pet insurance plan are known as exclusions. The following things are some common exclusions you’ll find in many pet insurance plans:

  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Grooming and cleaning services
  • Boarding and travel costs
  • Cosmetic or elective procedures (like tail docking or claw removal)
  • Spay/neuter procedures

How much does pet insurance cost?

In order to decide whether you think pet insurance is worth the cost, first you need to know how much it costs. There’s no blanket answer to this question, because the cost of a pet insurance plan will vary based on a number of factors. We conducted an in-depth deep dive into the cost of pet insurance in this article, but here’s a quick and easy breakdown. 

Different pet insurance plans are priced differently, and then several pieces of information about you and your pet often go into calculating your plan cost. 

  1. Whether you have a dog or a cat will usually affect the cost of your plan – generally, dog owners can expect to pay more than cat owners
  2. Your pet’s breed usually matters: certain breeds of dog, for instance, are generally more expensive to insure, especially larger breeds. 
  3. The cost of your monthly or annual premiums will often rise over the course of your pet’s life as they age and their health care needs increase.
  4. Your location usually matters too: the cost will generally vary depending on where you’re located.

There are usually several coverage options you can select when creating your pet insurance plan that may change your premium, which may include your reimbursement rate, annual deductible, and annual coverage limit. When you get a pet insurance quote, you can often use these three variables to see how they will affect your plan cost.

Ultimately, the best way to get a sense of how much pet insurance will cost for you and your pet is to get a free quote from the pet insurance provider(s) that you are interested in.

Am I better off contributing to a savings account for my pet’s health care costs rather than get pet insurance?

Some parents may prefer to contribute monthly to a savings account in order to prepare for their pets’ health care. This is a good solution for pet parents who want to plan ahead for their pets’ care in this way. While we hope this never happens, there may be circumstances where a pet insurance plan is a better fit. Take this hypothetical example.

Let’s imagine that pet parent Greg sees the cost of a pet insurance plan for his adult cat Rosie is $30 a month. Rather than pay this towards a pet insurance plan, Greg decides to put it towards a savings account. After almost a year, Greg has saved up $360 and luckily Rosie hasn’t had any healthcare expenses. 

Unfortunately, one day Rosie is behaving very strangely and is in distress. Greg takes her to the vet and they find she has an intestinal blockage due to a lodged hairball. The cost for Rosie’s care could cost anywhere from $800 to $7,000. Imagine that all in all, Rosie’s treatment ends up costing $2,200. Greg uses his $360 in savings and puts the remaining $1,840 on his credit card, which is a big source of stress. Greg is out $2,200 total, and just this one incident means his savings account is now empty.

If Greg had put his money towards an accident & illness pet insurance plan over those months, prior to when Rosie had her intestinal blockage, Greg would have been reimbursed for the eligible portion of Rosie’s vet bill that his plan covers. Knowing this, Greg felt confident saying ‘yes’ to the care Rosie needed to get better, without worrying as much about the cost. Most importantly of all, Greg knows his pet insurance plan is there for him the next time Rosie gets hurt or sick. 

What does it mean to give my pet the best care possible?

From hydrotherapy to stem cell therapy to groundbreaking cancer treatments, the veterinary medicine and treatment available to pets for accidents and illnesses nowadays is incredible. However, that level of care can be costly. If an accident or illness pops up, being able to give your pet the best care means you feel confident and comfortable saying ‘yes’ to your vet’s care recommendations and the most advanced treatment options. A pet insurance plan is one way to make it easier for you to have peace of mind around those decisions. 

Is pet insurance worth it if I have an older pet?

Pet insurance is absolutely worth it for adult and older pets. While it’s possible that adult and senior pets may have more pre-existing conditions than a young puppy or kitten, it’s prudent to be prepared for the future as you never know when a new accident or illness may occur. As pets age and health issues become more prevalent, they could develop new illnesses that need treatment, and pet insurance can help you provide the level of care they may need.

In general, it’s best to insure your pet as soon as you can, so they can have coverage for the future. 

Is pet insurance worth the cost?

The decision of whether to get a pet insurance plan, pay veterinary bills out of pocket, or find another solution is completely up to you. Each pet parent should do what feels right for their fur family. 

You may think, is pet insurance worth the cost if I’m not making any claims? When you get pet insurance, of course, you hope that there are no scary surprises around the corner, and it can feel frustrating to pick up a new expense that you feel you don’t need. However, it’s exactly because you don’t know what’s coming that pet insurance is 100% worth the cost. 

We think pet insurance plans are definitely worth it, because peace of mind is priceless. No pet parent can predict what will happen in the future, and if your pet does have an unexpected accident or illness, nothing compares to the feeling of knowing your pet insurance plan can help you get the care your pet needs to get back on their paws.

If you’d like to see how much a Pumpkin plan might cost, you can get a free quote. To help you make the right choice for you and your pet, use our useful comparison page to compare different providers’ plans.


REFERENCES
https://www.pumpkin.care/references

DISCLOSURE

Pumpkin Pet Insurance policies do not cover pre-existing conditions. Waiting periods, annual deductible, co-insurance, benefit limits and exclusions may apply. For full terms, visit pumpkin.care/insurancepolicy. Products, discounts, and rates may vary and are subject to change. Pumpkin Insurance Services Inc. (Pumpkin) (NPN#19084749) is a licensed insurance agency, not an insurer. Insurance is underwritten by United States Fire Insurance Company (NAIC #21113. Morristown, NJ), a Crum & Forster Company and produced by Pumpkin. Pumpkin receives compensation based on the premiums for the insurance policies it sells. For more details visit pumpkin.care/underwriting-information and pumpkin.care/insurance-licenses.


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