We don’t call them pets — they’re our fur babies and our besties, our doggos and our floofs. For many of us, pets aren’t just four-legged friends; they’re our life companions. We dote on them, give them special food, and spend big bucks on orthopedic beds for them. Some dogs and cats have collars and leashes for every day of the week. And some pets even have a more extensive wardrobe than their owners do.
There’s nothing wrong with cherishing your four-legged BFF, but are you also planning and saving for unexpected emergencies? Veterinary care can be expensive, even for a yearly checkup. Embrace Pet Insurance shared a list of the most common pet insurance claims that reveals just how expensive vet care can be.
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Is pet insurance worth it?
Depending on where you live, the average cost for a veterinary office visit can range from $45 to $100, and yearly vaccines can run from $20 to $75 per vaccine. Fecal and blood tests are pricey, as are dental cleanings. In short, it’s a good idea to budget at least $250 per annual vet visit.
Those costs skyrocket when the worst happens, and your pet needs emergency care or develops a disease or chronic condition. Depending on the situation, veterinary care can run into the thousands, which means many pet owners might look to offset some of those costs with a pet insurance policy.
There are typically three types of pet insurance: accident insurance, accident and illness insurance, and wellness or preventive care insurance. They all cover different things but generally work on a reimbursement basis. The owner pays the upfront costs and is reimbursed by the insurance provider. As with human insurance, there are deductibles and monthly premiums to pay.
Keep in mind if you choose a high deductible/low premium plan, you are responsible for more out-of-pocket costs than if you opted for a low deductible/high monthly premium plan, but insurance can definitely save you money in the long run if your pet becomes chronically ill or needs a surgery or emergency care.
On the other hand, pet insurance might not be worth it if you have a healthy young pet who isn’t predisposed or otherwise at risk for any chronic conditions or disease. While you can’t predict if your lab puppy will eat your kid’s LEGOs or accidentally ingest Tylenol, many pets go their entire lives without needing emergency vet care or major surgery. So, shelling out for a monthly pet insurance premium might not make financial sense.
And yes, pet insurance does have some of the problems as human health insurance. Pre-existing conditions are usually not covered, and it can be more challenging and costly to insure senior pets.
10 most common pet insurance claims
To highlight just how costly some vet care can be, Embrace Pet Insurance dug through their data and compiled a list of the most common reasons to visit a vet.
2023’s top 10 diagnoses by volume and average amount per claim
1. Allergic dermatitis (skin allergies) - $657
2. Otitis externa (ear infection) - $271
3. Diarrhea - $277
4. Vomiting - $689
5. Osteoarthritis - $706
6. Anxiety - $236
7. Lameness - $644
8. Pruritus (itching) - $213
9. Skin mass - $986
10. Cranial cruciate ligament tear - $4,919
If you think those claims were high, Embrace Pet Insurance uncovered some record-breaking claims. The owners of a French Bulldog with aspiration pneumonia and brachycephalic airway obstruction filed a claim for $ 41,952; a small mixed-breed dog had open heart surgery to repair a mitral valve to the tune of $36,927, and a domestic short-hair cat whose treatment for renal failure and diabetes cost a cool $35,470.
It’s important to note that without pet insurance, these owners may not have opted for these treatments for their pets due to the cost.
How much does pet insurance cost?
Pet insurance for cats is less expensive than having a policy on dogs, and costs vary based on the type of policy. Here are some average policy costs based on data compiled by the North American Pet Health Insurance Association. Your actual policy premium will vary based on factors like the age of your pet, breed, and health conditions.
Accident and illness pet insurance average costs
- Annual cost: $640.04
- Monthly cost $53.34
- Annual cost: $387.01
- Monthly cost: $32.25
Accident-only pet insurance average costs
- Annual cost: $200.58
- Monthly cost: $16.70
- Annual cost: $122.19
- Monthly cost: $10.18
There are home, property, rental, and car insurance policies. Home and car insurance are must-haves. As for pet insurance, it’s up to the pet parent. While pet insurance can assist with covering medical bills, it can also take a chunk out of a monthly budget. If you're considering investing in insurance for your pet, be sure to compare policies and speak with your vet for recommendations and advice.