Can Pet Insurance Save You Thousands?

To buy or not to buy? That is the question. We hope that this article about pet insurance will help you find the answer.


You may initially be thinking, “I don’t need any new bills to add to my plethora of monthly expenses.” And an expense it is, amounting to several thousands of dollars over the life of a pet. So, is it just another expense or can it help save you some dough in the long run?

Well, as with many things in life, there are pros and cons. Pro: having pet insurance can save you from paying the full cost of veterinarian bills out of pocket. This can be a huge savings as a trip to the vet on average cost $500 with serious illnesses costing $1,000. For example, a tooth extraction for a dog is around $830 while treating a torn ACL costs $2700, on average. Con: your pet may never encounter the need for such a costly procedure and you may never see a return on those monthly premiums.

As with human health insurance, pet insurance policies typically have monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and copayments. There are some exclusions and limitations as to which veterinarians, clinics and hospitals you can use. There are however some that do not have these limitations.

One primary difference is that pet insurers are allowed to refuse coverage for preexisting conditions and to set annual and lifetime payout limits.

Some other restrictions to look for include:

  • Premiums vary greatly depending on where you live and they may increase based on your pet’s age, breed, veterinary cost inflation and other factors.
  • Typically you must pay the vet or hospital bill out of pocket and get reimbursed later.
  • Some policies reimburse you based on a schedule of what are considered usual, customary and reasonable charges, which may be considerably less than your vet’s fees. Look for coverage with a straightforward, percentage-based payout.
  • Many plans deny or restrict coverage for congenital or hereditary conditions, like hip dysplasia in dogs or kidney failure in cats. Preventable conditions like periodontal disease are also frequently excluded from coverage.
  • Along with annual and lifetime maximums on benefits paid out, there may be a limit on how much it will pay for treatment of an individual illness or accident.
  • If your pet suffers a particular disorder one year, don’t be surprised if that condition is excluded at renewal — or if you’re required to pay an additional fee for future coverage.
  • Pets over certain age limits frequently are denied coverage.
  • Certain breeds are often excluded or only eligible for restricted coverage — pit bulls, Rottweilers, chow chows and Lhasa apsos, for example.
  • Some carriers let you augment your accident and illness policy with optional “wellness care” coverage for things like spaying and neutering, annual physicals, vaccines and routine tests. Make sure the additional premium is worth the extra cost, over time.

With about a dozen carriers in the U.S., and each offering a variety of plans with varying deductible, copayment and maximum coverage amounts, one of the biggest challenges when choosing pet insurance lies in trying to compare plans and find which one will work for you.

You can shop for plans directly from their websites and to request a quote, or you can use an independent comparison website like or Pet Insurance Quotes to pull quotes from multiple carriers. has a list of their top ten recommended pet insurance companies to help you narrow your search.

And don’t forget the age old tactic of word of mouth to help you find the best tried and true companies out there. Chances are that your friends an deven your vet may have some positive and negative feedback to help you with your decision. Checking with the Better Business Bureau and Angies’s List for customer complaints can further weed out any companies that are not worth your dollars. Also,ask your employer whether or not they offer discounted pet insurance as a benefit as thousands of companies do.

Whether you decide for or against pet insurance, be sure to set aside some dough for those unexpected medical expenses that can and many times do occur. As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Keep your pet on a healthy diet and include regular exercise. You may even decide to join the raw revolution and feed your pet raw meet to provide a more natural and healthful life for your pet. You can visit our previous articles on raw eating for more information or visit

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