Is Dog Insurance Worth It?

Filed in Dog Insurance on January 8, 2020

black and brown dog being checked by a veterinarianWant to learn more about dog insurance and whether it is worth it? Just to be clear, this article focuses on dog health insurance, not liability insurance.

As dog lovers, there’s nothing we wouldn’t do for our dogs. Am I right?

Orthopedic surgery, feeding a special diet, dental check-ups…. All of these are simple things that most of us do not consider to be extraordinary.

Why? Because our dogs love us unconditionally, and we love them right back. But sometimes, we can admittedly get a little surprised by their vet bills.

Purpose of Dog Insurance

Dog insurance provides a form of protection against the unplanned health needs of your dog.

Fortunately, when we add a dog to our family, most of us understand that we have to rank our dog’s needs very high. But are we prepared to sacrifice luxuries like vacations to pay their vet bills?

For example, no one really expects that their dog will need ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) surgery. Not only that, but statistically a dog has an 80 percent chance to rupture the ligament in the other leg within one year.

And, to top it off, ACL surgery should never be delayed as that can, and most often does, lead to arthritis (source). So, plan for the unplanned just to be safe. 

Dog insurance provides a safety net for these unexpected costs.

dog insurance pet insurance paperwork

How Does Dog Insurance Work and How Much Does It Cost?

Dog insurance, while somewhat similar to healthcare insurance, is more like property insurance.

It most often refers to ‘accident’ coverage (not illness or wellness coverage, detailed further down in this article).

This is why you need to thoroughly compare the dog insurance policies you are interested. Generally speaking, this is how dog insurance works:

Choosing a Veterinarian

Under most plans, you are allowed to choose the licensed veterinarian of your choice. The plans do not have in- or out-of-network veterinarians.

Coverage

You select a plan from a small number of policies (or ‘tiers’). One tier may only cover accidents, another may cover accidents and illness, and there may be a wellness option as well.

Premiums and Deductibles

Basic dog policy costs are relatively inexpensive, starting at $14 a month up to $125 monthly. The cost depends on a number of variables like breed, age, location, etc.

Deductibles are the amount of money, on an annual basis, that you will be responsible to pay before the policy kicks in. Also, depending on the policy, you may incur a co-pay.

Annual deductibles are generally low (e.g. less than $250) and a co-pay, if applicable, is typically 10-20 percent.

How Bills Are Paid

Unlike most human healthcare policies, the dog’s owner is typically the first person to pay the vet bills – not the insurance company.

Once the owner has paid the bill they will need to file a claim with their dog insurance to receive appropriate reimbursement.

The reimbursement amount depends on the insurance policy details (and any exclusions), type and cost of each procedure and the policy’s allowance per procedure, and the plan’s deductible.

Example: Joe pays $40 a month in dog policy premiums for 5 years, for a total of $2,400. Joe’s dog, Fido, tears his ACL. The surgery costs $4,000. Joe’s dog policy has a $250 deductible and a 15% co-pay. Joe only needs to pay the deductible and the $600 co-pay, for a total of $850. By having a dog insurance policy Joe saves a net of $750.

What Does Dog Insurance Cover?

This really depends on the type of plan and coverage chosen.

While companies use different terminology, there is accident coverage, illness coverage and/or wellness coverage. Comprehensive plans contain a combination of these three.

What Is Accident Coverage?

These plans cover unexpected emergency accidents and injuries such as a broken leg or cut.

They are the most budget-friendly plans, but also are limited in coverage.

What Is Illness Coverage?

These plans cover illnesses and hereditary/congenital conditions.

They cover such things like hypothyroidism, cancer, allergies, urinary tract infections and digestive issues.

For an extra fee, you can often get illness coverage added to your accident-only plan.

It is worth noting that dog insurance companies may limit their illness coverage as dogs age.

This is why it’s important to get insurance while a dog is young – to reduce pre-existing condition exemptions and high monthly premium costs.

What Is Wellness Coverage?

Wellness coverage is meant to cover expected costs for preventative healthcare such as check-ups and vaccines for your dog.

These plans cost around $20-$25 per month.

They function on a reimbursement model that provides money back toward common procedures most dogs undergo throughout their life.

In addition to check-ups and vaccinations, other items normally covered by wellness plans are spay and neutering, microchipping, and flea control.

Some veterinary clinics and hospitals offer their own dog wellness plans, while some insurance companies offer wellness plans as an upgrade to their accident and injury plans. 

Which Dog Insurance Is Best?

There isn’t one universal answer to this question. Just like with human insurance, the answer is “it depends.” However, below are some things to consider when analyzing policies.

  • What are the enrollment rules?
  • What incident types are covered?
  • What treatment types are covered?
  • What are the policy payout limits?
  • What are the deductible amounts?
  • What is the definition of a pre-existing condition?
  • What is the waiting period before coverage begins?
  • What are the reimbursement levels and timeline?
  • What are the exclusions?
  • What is the overall price?

Here are some insurance companies with high marks:

Healthy Paws Pet Insurance

This company rates high during annual reviews. They offer plans that cover accidents, illnesses, cancer, emergency care, genetic conditions, and alternative care.

Healthy Paws Pet Insurance receives high marks for:

  • Excellent customer service.
  • An annual deductible (versus a per incident deductible).
  • No maximum annual or lifetime payout caps.
  • Claims are processed and reimbursed within 2 days (99% of cases).
Get Healthy Paws Pet Insurance Information Here

Allstate Pet Insurance

Like the prior company, Allstate receives high marks for its coverage.

Allstate offers a comprehensive pet health policy with “nose-to-tail” protection. It covers accidental, emergency, illness, and disease-related health coverage.

Allstate’s policy also covers hospitalization, surgery, diagnostic testing, lab work, medicines, as well as certain alternative therapies, including homeopathic medicine, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, and holistic medicine treatments.

A big plus is that they offer coverage for chronic conditions like hyperthyroidism, allergies, and diabetes.

Get Allstate Pet Insurance Information Here

Is Dog Insurance Worth It? Yes!

Having your dog insured can literally be a lifesaver. Also, a wallet saver.

Determining how much insurance you need for your dog can be as simple as discussing the topic with your veterinarian. Also, you’ll want to discuss dental insurance too.

Ideally, you should obtain insurance while your dog is young – but, just because you don’t have a puppy is no reason to forego getting a policy. Your dog will thank you for it!

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