Do I Need Pet Insurance?

With the advancement of science, technology, and medicine, veterinary care is becoming more advanced, with a greater capability of healing and curing diseases which were previously untreatable. MRI’s, CT Scans, and ultrasound examinations are becoming routine tools to help diagnose and treat our furry companions. This is a great thing. However, with more advanced diagnostics and treatments come higher expenses, that can translate to higher costs for our clients. As Veterinarians, our goal is to keep and make pets healthy. One understandable obstacle to this is finance. In the following article, I will discuss the benefits of pet insurance in helping to keep costs down for our clients, and making all the benefits of advancement in medicine affordable options for your pet.

What Is Pet Insurance?

Pet insurance companies have been growing in number and popularity in the United States over the past 20 years. Today, there are numerous companies offering plans to pet owners across the company. Not all companies are the same although they share some similarities.

How Are They the Same?

1) All pet insurance companies offer a model where you pay the veterinarian, and are reimbursed directly for their care. Insurance companies do this after seeing price inflation in the human health care system. Keeping all payments directly to the pet owner helps reduce medical inflation, keeping costs lower for the pet owner.
2) All pet insurance companies do not cover pre-existing conditions. This makes sense because an insurance company would quickly go out of business if they allowed people to wait until their pet becomes sick before signing up for insurance to cover their illness. For this reason, it is important to enroll in pet insurance before your pet develops a pre-existing condition which will not be covered in the future.

How Are They Different?

1) Some companies cover routine wellness care, some do not. This includes annual examinations, vaccinations, and routine yearly testing including heartworm and Lyme disease. Pet insurance is really designed to cover illness and accidents where costs of care can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Companies that offer routine wellness coverage likely pass these costs along in the form of higher premiums to the consumer.

2) Some companies cover genetic/hereditary conditions, others do not. What does this mean for your pet? Certain conditions have an increased genetic prevalence in certain breeds. Golden Retrievers are predisposed to Hip Dysplasia and resulting arthritis. Bulldogs too often suffer from brachycephalic disease and resulting respiratory problems. Yorkshire Terriers develop collapsing trachea and a honking, goose-like cough, as they get older. Some insurance companies will cover all hereditary/genetic diseases, others will not. If you have a dog with a predisposition to certain diseases, it is important to learn if your pet will be covered should they develop one of these conditions.

3) Some companies reimburse claims based on a “benefit schedule” which pre-determines what a condition’s maximum reimbursement is. Of course, the same disease can vary in severity and length of treatment, meaning the same broken leg can cost very different amounts to treat.

How Can I Learn More about Pet Insurance?

Fortunately, there’s a website with more information about pet insurance ( This website provides information and customer ratings and reviews for many insurance companies, and can help you identify which pet insurance company is right for you. In addition, it is always recommended to call the companies themselves, making sure to find out more information including how the companies work, are hereditary conditions covered, exclusion periods, costs of premiums and deductibles, maximum reimbursements per year, and reimbursement percentages or rates. Also be sure to speak to your veterinarian about pet insurance, and why it may be right for you and your pet.