Pet insurance: Here’s what you need to know

As veterinary bills mount, more Americans consider pet insurance

A lot of people adopted a pet during the pandemic, some even considered adding a second or third pet to their home.
A lot of people adopted a pet during the pandemic, some even considered adding a second or third pet to their home.

A lot of people adopted a pet during the pandemic, some even considered adding a second or third pet to their home.

One of the biggest costs with a pet can be veterinary care. According to the American Pet Products Association report in 2018, Americans spend $18 billion a year on veterinary costs.

Pet insurance policies can range from $200 to $800 depending on the deductible, age, and breed of pet.

“Just like having insurance coverage for a person and being prepared for that situation that hopefully never happens, you can do the same for your pets,” said Jason Levine, vice president of Harry Levine Insurance.

Unlike human health insurance, pet health insurance typically only covers accidents, illnesses, and other unusual health events.

“They don’t cover routine things like shots, like your annual wellness exams,” Levin said.

They also don’t usually cover pre-existing conditions.

You can buy health insurance for your pet at any age, but just like human health insurance, it’s going to be less expensive the younger the animal.

The Better Business Bureau recommends the following when making decisions about pet insurance:

  • Many policies require you to pay for the vet services upfront and be reimbursed later. If you don’t have the money at the time of the vet visit, you might put yourself in financial harm.
  • The premium costs of the health insurance is predicated on the breed and/or age of the animal, how much deductible you’re willing to pay and how much of an annual maximum you’re needing.
  • Almost all policies exclude pre-existing conditions.
  • The majority of the health plans are accident or illness coverage with others covering wellness visits like annual exams, flea and tick treatments, and vaccinations.

The Better Business Bureau also said you should read the entire policy coverages and requirements before signing up and paying any premiums.

Consumer Reports recommends looking for free quotes, the terms and conditions and a sample policy on the insurers website. An alternative to pet insurance could be to set up a dedicated savings account for pet health care costs.

Have a conversation with your veterinarian on any vaccines you could consider skipping, and always protect against parasites.

Flea and tick infestations can lead to serious illness like anemia.

Also spay and neuter your pet, it can prevent health problems including some cancers.

To review and compare some pet insurance policies, click here.

More: All 4 Pets section -- pet stories, news, tips


About the Author:

Hank Winchester is Local 4's Consumer Investigative Reporter and the head of WDIV's "Help Me Hank" Consumer Unit. He works to solve consumer complaints, reveal important recalls and track down thieves who have ripped off metro Detroiters.