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1. Veterinary costs continue to rise
According to the 2017-2018 National Pet Owners Survey, the average dog owner had an annual cost of $468 total on vet care. That includes everything from routine checkups and vaccinations to emergencies that require surgery or hospitalization. The survey also found that 30% of dogs were diagnosed with some type of medical problem in 2017; about half required treatment, surgery, or veterinarian visits. Vets say cancer is one of the most common conditions they see in dogs.
2. Pet insurance costs vary
According to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA), pet owners paid an average of $426 for a six-month policy in 2016. Prices depend on the age, breed, and health status of your pet when you take out the policy, as well as how much coverage you choose. For example, there are policies designed solely for preventive care, while other plans include cancer coverage. Your pet's medical history may also impact your premium; some companies charge more or refuse to insure pets with pre-existing conditions.
3. Not all breeds are covered
Just like car insurance companies, animal health providers consider certain breeds more likely to get sick than others before issuing a policy. This may lead to higher premiums or even rejection of coverage for certain breeds, especially those known to be susceptible to genetic ailments like hip dysplasia.
4. Your pet will also need regular checkups
Even if your pet isn't considered high-risk by the vet, you'll still need to schedule well-pet exams twice a year. That's because some companies require that an initial exam be completed within 30 days of taking out a policy; there are also wellness plans that don't cover illnesses (only accidents).
5. Most policies only pay part of the medical costs
Vets say pet insurance usually pays between 60% and 80% of veterinary bills after you meet your deductible. For example, an accident could cost $500, but your deductible could be $200. In that case, you'd have to pay the first $200 upfront. Policies with higher premiums often provide more coverage for veterinary services, while those at lower prices are only willing to cover certain conditions or treatments.
6. You should also have a savings account
Pet owners typically spend an average of $245 per year on routine care, which includes shots and checkups . Even if your pet insurance covers 60% of these costs, it's still up to you to cover the rest by setting aside some money each month. Vets recommend establishing an emergency fund that can help offset the cost of unexpected ailments like cancer or kidney failure.
7. Pet Insurance can help you avoid making tough decisions
A life-threatening disease or accident can cost over $5,000. If you feel the monthly cost of pet insurance is just not worth it, consider having to make the tough decision between saving your pet and putting yourself in a position with thousands of dollars of debt.
Even if you think your pet is healthy, it's important to have some form of animal health insurance in case of unexpected emergencies. The cost of vet care continues to rise and most policies only pay a fraction of the total bill. By taking out a policy before something happens, you can help avoid having to make tough decisions about your pet's health.