If you have a family, chances are you have health insurance. But what about your pet? They’re family, too. Surgery for your pet can reach into the thousands of dollars. Pet insurance is a great hedge against the worst happening. For example, hip dysplasia, a common occurrence with some breeds of older dogs, can cost upwards of $4,000 to $7,000 for larger dogs. Not having pet insurance can sometimes mean the difference between saving your pet or having to let them go.
How to Buy Pet Insurance from Your Vet
Should you buy pet insurance from your vet? No one knows better than your pet’s vet exactly what type of coverage your pet needs. Experts agree that comprehensive coverage is the best way to go. Accident-only policies are limited at best, but most pets, especially older ones, make trips to vets not because of accidents, but because of ailments.
Most vets don’t recommend wellness coverage at all. Wellness coverage (typically an add-on rider) takes care of routine costs that can be anticipated and budgeted for anyway. Truth is, paying an added monthly premium for items that are no surprise can sometimes be more expensive.
Compare Pet Insurance Coverage
If by now you’ve decided pet insurance is the way to go, the next step is finding just the right coverage for you. Let Benzinga show you not only where to get the best price, but the coverage that’s just right for you and your pet.
- securely through Chewy Care Plus's websiteBest For:Annual Check UpsRating:
- securely through Wagmo's websiteBest For:EmergenciesRating:
- securely through Pumpkin Pet Insurance's websiteBest For:Families with multiple pets
Limitations apply. For terms and conditions, visit pumpkin.care. Pumpkin Insurance Services Inc. (NPN#19084749) (“Pumpkin”) is a licensed insurance agency, not an insurer. Insurance plans underwritten by United States Fire Insurance Company. Preventive Essentials is not an insurance policy, and is not available in all states.
What Pet Insurance Is
You can get insurance for just about anything, so it’s not surprising you can get health insurance for your pet. Most policies also cover non-catastrophic items like prescription medication and congenital conditions. Veterinarian costs, like human medical costs, can often be prohibitive. It’s estimated that one of every three pets will make a trip to the emergency room, and treatment can easily reach into the thousands of dollars. Because pre-existing conditions are rarely covered, it’s important to insure your pet from the beginning.
How Pet Insurance Works
Pet insurance works just like any other type of insurance. You pay monthly premiums in return for medical services for your pet. Just like with human health insurance, the policy features deductibles, coinsurance and copays. Maximum annual payouts apply.
Unlike many human health insurance plans where the insurance company pays the medical provider directly, most pet insurance policies require that you pay your vet first then get reimbursed. While this may be a burden on the policyholder at the time of treatment, it does allow for them to choose any vet they want. Because pet insurance operates on a pay first, get reimbursed later system, there are no in-network limitations. Reimbursement rates range anywhere from 70% to 100% and typically occur between 5 to 9 days.
Types of Pet Insurance
Insurers offer three main types of pet insurance:
- Accident and illness: Accident and illness, or comprehensive coverage, is the most popular. While more expensive, it covers most accidents or ailments your pet may incur. Accident and illness pet insurance makes sure your beloved dog or cat gets the treatment it needs, whether that is surgery after an accident or cancer treatments.
- Accident-only: If your pet is young and healthy, maybe you don’t see the need for comprehensive coverage. Accidents can happen, however. Accident-only coverage makes sure your pet gets the treatment it needs in case of the unexpected. Coverage includes treatment for:
- Broken bones
- Swallowed objects
- Car accidents
- Wellness: If you like to have everything covered, a wellness plan is just the thing for you. Wellness plans cover preventative care, routine items such as vaccinations, bloodwork, fecal tests and deworming.
What Pet Insurance Covers
Pet insurance is a great hedge against the worst happening to your beloved pets. Typical pet insurance policies cover:
- Emergency care
- Cancer treatments
- Prescription medications
- Acupuncture and chiropractic services
- Congenital conditions
- Chronic illnesses
- Diagnostics including x-rays and testing
While coverage may be comprehensive, it’s not necessarily immediate. In fact, most plans have a 48-hour waiting period for accidents and four days for illnesses. More serious conditions, such as hip dysplasia, require as much as a six-month waiting period before they’re covered. Most pet prescription medications are covered.
What’s not covered
Just like with any insurance, certain items are not covered. Services and procedures typically not covered include:
- Pre-existing conditions
- Experimental medications and procedures
- Spay and neutering
- Elective procedures like teeth cleaning
Unless you have a wellness plan, routine items such as annual checkups and vaccinations aren’t covered. Neither are flea and tick control, heartworm medication and dental services.
The Cost of Pet Insurance
Pet insurance costs can range anywhere from $10 to $100 per month. Costs depend on type of pet, age, breed and existing health condition. Like with any insurance plan, cost depends upon the particulars of the policy itself.
Comprehensive coverage for your pet (accident and illness) averages anywhere from $30 per month for cats to $50 per month for dogs. Accident-only coverage is cheaper, averaging $10 and $16 respectively.
It’s important to note that it’s not only the cost of pet insurance that matters; it’s the cost of not having it that can let you in for hard decisions about your pet’s medical care.
Pros and Cons of Buying Pet Insurance
Do you really need pet insurance?
- Eliminates expensive surprises
- Covers everything from chronic illness to accidents (comprehensive coverage)
- Can include a wellness rider
- Allows choice of vet
- Broad range of expenses covered
- Some health issues not covered
- Restrictions on certain types of pets
- Pre-existing conditions not covered
Like with anything, you need to balance the good with the bad. The good news is that pet insurance is affordable. According to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association, average rates for dogs start at just $50 per month — and just $30 for cats. If you choose an accident-only policy, rates go down to just $16 per month for dogs and $10 per month for cats.
Benefits of Buying Pet Insurance From a Vet — Banfield Pet Hospital
Buying pet insurance from a vet like Banfield Pet Hospital is more like buying pet health coverage than health insurance. Unlike standard pet insurance, pet coverage only applies to the one provider you purchase it from.
Veterinarian service centers like Banfield don’t provide all types of coverage, however. Banfield specializes in wellness coverage. The company offers:
- Behavior evaluation
- Coat and skin care treatment
- Comprehensive exams
- Nutrition advice
- Orthopedic evaluation and treatment
- Parasite control
- Gastrointestinal illness, diagnosis and treatment
While Banfield’s specialty is wellness care, it does offer other services such as x-rays, radiology and laboratory diagnosis. Some surgery is available as well as general dentistry like dental cleanings, extractions and gingival flap surgeries.
Banfield offers packages for:
- Large Dogs
- Small dogs
Banfield is not pet insurance but classed as a wellness plan. Banfield believes that with the proper preventative care, some illnesses can be avoided altogether.
Buying Pet Insurance — Knowledge is Everything
When it comes to purchasing the right pet insurance for you, knowledge is everything. That’s where the Benzinga comes in. Benzinga has put together a long list of articles and educational tools designed specifically to help you choose just the right pet insurance policy for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does Banfield cover?
The Banfield Pet Hospital Optimum Wellness Plan means keeping your pet healthy from the start. When you sign up for the Banfield Optimum Wellness Plan, you get 2 virtual office visits, 24/7 advice through Vet Chat and a coaching session on nutrition for your pet. These services are good at the over 1,000 Banfield locations nationwide. The company also offers online access to all your medical records and appointments, either through their website or the Banfield app.
What is an Optimum Wellness Plan?
The Optimum Wellness Plan from Banfield Pet Hospital offers smart and affordable annual packages focused on preventative care for your pet. Banfield believes that the best way to keep your pet healthy is to not let them get sick in the first place.