Take a Moment to Paws and Consider Pet Insurance
Article by Josh Fearon
Pets are part of the family. In 2018, more than 68 percent of U.S. households owned a pet – a percentage equating to nearly 85 million homes – according to the 2017-2018 American Pet Products Association National Pet Owners Survey. And there’s a difficult reality that they all must face: the potential for unexpected, pet-related medical costs. Emergency room visits, prescribed medications and other medical treatments that can cost owners without pet insurance thousands of dollars annually.
This financial threat shouldn’t be taken lightly. According to the pet insurance company Petplan, the average out-of-pocket cost of an emergency room visit for dogs and cats can range from $800 to $1,500. This burden is significant, especially considering a recent report claiming that nearly 40 percent of Americans don’t even have the resources to cover a small $400 emergency. A broken leg, a ligament tear or the swallowing of a poisonous item are common ailments that require immediate medical attention, yet many Americans would struggle to pay for the necessary care.
The potential for a pet getting sick is also serious. No one wants to think about their pet being diagnosed with an illness like cancer, yet it’s a real possibility. More than 12 million dogs and cats are diagnosed with cancer every year, and half of dogs over age 10 will develop it, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. Without insurance, out-of-pocket expenses can run up to $10,000 for medication, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and surgery to remove tumors. Additional expenses like end-of-life services and palliative care for terminally ill pets have also become common. Other ailments like diabetes, gastrointestinal issues and kidney and heart disease might require thousands of dollars of treatment, while parasites, fungal and bacterial infections also pose a costly threat.
The strain of these expenses forces some to make a difficult decision: choosing between paying for the unaffordable health care their pet needs or risking them going untreated. This is a heartbreaking – and sometimes life-threatening – scenario. Unfortunately, it’s a reality. However, with a little financial planning and the right pet insurance plan, it’s a situation that can be avoided. Investing in pet insurance will provide you with the peace of mind that your pet will receive the care it needs without jeopardizing your finances. Those in the market for pet insurance have plenty of options. The industry has expanded considerably over the last decade and particularly within the last five years. Since 2014, it has grown by an average annual rate of 13.4 percent, according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA). The number of industry businesses has also grown by a 5.4 percent rate in that timeframe. Over 1.6 million North American pets are insured by members of NAPHIA – founded in 2007 – including some of the largest, reputable providers like Healthy Paws, Trupanion, AKC, Nationwide and Figo.
Your pet’s premium costs will be determined by factors including age, breed and the level of coverage you choose. A premium for a young, healthy dog will generally range between $30 and $50 a month, with older animals and pure breeds often more expensive to insure. Pets with hereditary and congenital defects usually aren’t eligible for coverage, as are pets with pre-existing conditions. However, Figo makes exemptions to this if it considers the pre-existing condition curable and if the pet hasn’t shown any signs or symptoms in the past year. Many insurance companies offer different tiers of coverage, including accident-only, illness-only and combined accident and illness policies, so you can decide what’s best for you and your pet.