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The pros and cons of pet insurance

Healthcare is a major worry for many people—including pet parents. An unexpected vet bill can cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars. But is pet insurance the right solution? Kevin Brasler, Executive Editor at Consumers’​ Checkbook, says the answer is a strong maybe — as long as you understand what you’re buying and how it works.”A decade or so ago, there were really only two companies that sold pet insurance plans and what they sold was actually pretty lousy coverage. It didn’t fully cover most expenses you have or the veterinarians’ charge. You still had to pay the balance,” Brasler said. Another big problem with the old pet insurance plans was that they didn’t cover things like congenital problems or specific conditions, like cancer — many things that might befall your pet that were very expensive to treat. But as Americans’ love of pets has intensified, so have pet insurance options. Now more than a dozen companies sell pet insurance, and you can get better coverage.”That’s the good news. The plans cover things like congenital problems, and they do cover cancer. They typically don’t cover typical, you know, preventive medicine like getting lab analysis done, spaying and neutering, checkups. But for major medical problems, they do cover them, and they cover them pretty well,” Brasler said.Pet insurance offers peace of mind that you’ll have the resources to treat your beloved dog or cat if it’s injured or is diagnosed with a disease. But security isn’t cheap.”Some insurance plans, over the life of your pet, you’re going to pay $20,000 or more just for the premiums,” Brasler said.Many pet insurance companies raise their rates as your pet ages. So while you may be able to pay $40 or $50 a month for your puppy, you may find it impossible to pay $200 or more ten years later — right when your pet needs it most. Once the premiums are too high to pay, you’re back where you started — worrying about the cost of unexpected vet bills.”Pet insurance might make sense because it might help you avoid a big financial hit down the road. Just know that you ‘re more likely to pay far more in pet insurance, premiums and copays and deductibles than you’re ever going to get out of the plan,” Brasler added. Pet insurance mirrors every other type of insurance. On average, you put more into it than you get out. Just consider how much you’ve paid in car or property insurance in the past 5 or 10 years. If you want the peace of mind of pet insurance, compare shop and find a plan that fits your finances. If you want to pay less each month in premiums, you can choose a plan with a higher deductible. If you don’t want to spend so much when your pet is sick or injured, choose a plan with higher monthly premiums and lower deductibles or copays. The other option is to start your personal pet emergency fund. Put away the exact amount you’d spend for pet insurance in a designated savings account. That way, you’ll have complete control over spending it. But be forewarned: It requires a lot of discipline to save consistently.

Healthcare is a major worry for many people—including pet parents. An unexpected vet bill can cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars. But is pet insurance the right solution?

Kevin Brasler, Executive Editor at Consumers’​ Checkbook, says the answer is a strong maybe — as long as you understand what you’re buying and how it works.

“A decade or so ago, there were really only two companies that sold pet insurance plans and what they sold was actually pretty lousy coverage. It didn’t fully cover most expenses you have or the veterinarians’ charge. You still had to pay the balance,” Brasler said.

Another big problem with the old pet insurance plans was that they didn’t cover things like congenital problems or specific conditions, like cancer — many things that might befall your pet that were very expensive to treat. But as Americans’ love of pets has intensified, so have pet insurance options. Now more than a dozen companies sell pet insurance, and you can get better coverage.

“That’s the good news. The plans cover things like congenital problems, and they do cover cancer. They typically don’t cover typical, you know, preventive medicine like getting lab analysis done, spaying and neutering, checkups. But for major medical problems , they do cover them, and they cover them pretty well,” Brasler said.

Pet insurance offers peace of mind that you’ll have the resources to treat your beloved dog or cat if it’s injured or is diagnosed with a disease. But security isn’t cheap.

“Some insurance plans, over the life of your pet, you’re going to pay $20,000 or more just for the premiums,” Brasler said.

Many pet insurance companies raise their rates as your pet ages. So while you may be able to pay $40 or $50 a month for your puppy, you may find it impossible to pay $200 or more ten years later — right when your pet needs it most. Once the premiums are too high to pay, you’re back where you started — worrying about the cost of unexpected vet bills.

“Pet insurance might make sense because it might help you avoid a big financial hit down the road. Just know that you’re more likely to pay far more in pet insurance, premiums and copays and deductibles than you’re ever going to get out of the plan,” Brasler added.

Pet insurance mirrors every other type of insurance. On average, you put more into it than you get out. Just consider how much you’ve paid in car or property insurance in the past 5 or 10 years. If you want the peace of mind of pet insurance, compare shop and find a plan that fits your finances.

If you want to pay less each month in premiums, you can choose a plan with a higher deductible. If you don’t want to spend so much when your pet is sick or injured, choose a plan with higher monthly premiums and lower deductibles or copays.

The other option is to start your personal pet emergency fund. Put away the exact amount you’d spend for pet insurance in a designated savings account. That way, you’ll have complete control over spending it. But be forewarned: It requires a lot of discipline to save consistently.

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