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Pet insurance policies have been available in the United States for a few decades now, but they have never really caught on.
Only 1% of dogs were covered 10 years ago, according to the American Pet Products Association. As veterinary fees increased, now we’re up to about 3% of dogs covered.
So, in the United States we have nearly 80 million dogs, and only 3% of them are covered by insurance — a drop in the bucket. What gives?
Many More Pets Insured in Europe
Our pals across the Atlantic fare much better. The coverage rate is 20% in Britain. In Sweden, the rate is nearly half of dogs — 48%, according to Trupanion.
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Why are so many more Europeans getting their pets insured? For starters, Sweden is the birthplace of pet insurance: It all started there in 1924 with the first policy ever written for a dog.
But more important, the plans are simply better in Europe. They typically cover 100% of vet bills. Here in the United States, by contrast, plans tend to cover only 80–90% after you reach your deductible.
The Costs of Premiums
How much are premiums? In the United States, they range from about $10 per month to $100 per month or more, depending on the plan.
Low-Cost Pet Insurance
A number of low-cost pet insurance policies are available. Choose one that will fulfill your dog or cat’s specific requirements.
Do some research on a few policies before deciding on one.
Personally, I like Embrace Pet Insurance. A recent quote was less than $18 a month for basic coverage of my cat. Of course, you should shop around — but stick with reputable insurers.
Read the fine print on any plan:
- Pre-existing conditions are often (usually) not covered.
- Lower-end plans cover only emergency care — but those are often the priciest bills!
- Sometimes you’re only allowed to see certain approved veterinarians. Consult your vet regarding whether a particular policy will cover expenses and visits to his or her clinic.
- Certain policies may not cover major items such as surgeries.
Find the Plan That Fits Your Dog Best
What are the factors that determine which plan is right for you?
- Breed: Some breeds are more prone to injury and illness than are others. Your veterinarian will help you decide on the kind of medical policy required for your pet based on the breed.
- Age: As your dog gets older, she is more susceptible to illness and injury. The age of the dog or cat is a major factor that will influence whether you can find affordable insurance.
- Prior major illness: If your pet had any pre-existing illness in the past, take this aspect into consideration before opting for a policy.
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Is Pet Insurance Worth the Cost?
Yes, I think it’s worth the monthly fee. As Dr. Phil Zeltzman, one of our veterinary writers, says: “Unless you can afford a $1,000, $2,000 or $3,000 bill without getting into debt, I think it’s one of the greatest inventions out there.”
In the end, though, only you can decide if pet insurance polices are worth the money for you and your pet.