Pet Insurance – A Surprisingly Affordable ‘Safety Net’ for your Pet

27 Mar 2015

Have you ever heard of pet insurance?  You’ve probably seen the brochures at your veterinarian’s office, but most of us don’t stop to consider it. Visits to the vet, especially for emergency care, are expensive and can strain your finances. This strain can be minimized or eliminated by having insurance coverage for your pets.  Let’s take a quick look at what pet insurance is and how it can benefit your pet and budget!



Pet insurance is a financial “safety net” in case your pet falls ill or is stolen. Typical policies will cover all or part of the cost of veterinary office visits, medications, hospitalization and emergency care. Many will even cover holistic medications, advanced diagnostics like MRI and physiotherapy! More comprehensive care is covered under more ‘premium’ or custom policies. This often includes preventative care such as vaccinations, heartworm prevention, and dental procedures such as teeth cleaning and oral surgery.

  • Budget-Friendly

Policies can be purchased to meet your pet’s individual needs and your family’s budget.  If you are wanting the most “bang for your buck”, look for “illness only” policies that cover the most common pet problems like arthritis, cancer and skin disease. There is even “accident-only” coverage that can be as inexpensive as $11 per month.

  • Peace of Mind

Many people don’t have money set aside for emergency situations. Sadly, thousands of pets are euthanized each year for treatable conditions simply because the owner cannot afford care.

With pet insurance, if your pet becomes sick, you don’t have to stress over ‘how am I going to pay for this?’  Pet insurance is that ‘rainy day’ fund that ensures that your pet will get the treatment that he needs. With coverage, you can focus on helping your pet get well instead of on the finances.

  • Use your own Veterinarian

Unlike many human health insurances, you can use your own veterinarian for care. Basically, if your pet requires care, you must pay the veterinarian in full for the services. Then you submit a claim to the company and receive reimbursement. Most companies process claims quickly and the money is once again in your pocketbook.



Most insurance policies are purchased out-of-pocket. However, ask about pet insurance at work. Some companies offer it as an employee benefit and will pay up to 100% of the monthly premium.

It is best to research different pet insurance companies thoroughly before making your choice.

Things to remember:

  • If it seems too good to be true – it probably is!

Some pet insurance seem like good deals but can be rather restrictive in what they will actually pay for. Do your homework and stick with reputable companies.

  • Breed-specific illnesses

Certain breeds are more prone to medical problems than others. If your pet is a pure-bred or pedigreed animal, be sure to research the premiums very carefully, as certain conditions may not be covered. For example, German Shepherds are genetically predisposed to hip dysplasia. If you insure your German Shepherd puppy and she is later diagnosed with this disease and needs treatment, the insurance company may not pay for anything related to the diagnosis- including arthritis medications.

  • Read the fine print

Ask the insurance company for a full description of what is covered under the policy and what is not. They should also provide full disclosure on time limits. For example, if your cat suffers from a chronic condition, the insurance company may only pay up to a certain amount per year per medical condition. Anything beyond that will not be reimbursed by the company.



This US-based pet insurance offers a variety of policies for cats and dogs. Claims can be submitted online and they have an excellent reputation for fast processing. They were rated the best pet insurance company for 3 years running by numerous consumer advocate websites. Their website allows you to easily compare policies between other leading companies such as PetFirst, VPI and Petplan.

PetFirst has a great reputation for paying claims fast. They also provide customized plans for your individual pet, including seniors. These custom plans can include coverage for breed-specific diseases and there are no time limits.

PetPlan began in the UK over 35 years ago. This trusted pet insurance company offers policies for cats, dogs and horses at affordable rates in the US, UK, and Australia. They even offer travel insurance for pets and special rates for breeders.

Our “fur babies” deserve the best that we can give them. Accidents happen, our pets age and we all want to be prepared for what the future holds. By investing in pet insurance, you can help ensure that your beloved has every opportunity to live a full and healthy life.




Deborah Shores

Deborah Shores, DVM, is an American Veterinarian and a 2008 graduate of Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science, minor in Chemistry, from Berry College in Rome, Georgia, USA. As a child, she was obsessed with horses and received her very own mare, named Ivy, at the age of 10. She wanted to become a vet at the age of 13, when her beloved horse had to undergo a complicated eye surgery at the University of Georgia. The veterinary surgeons allowed her to watch the procedure in the operating theatre and she was hooked! As a military spouse, she has lived throughout the USA, in Poland and Japan. In the last 6 years, Dr. Shores has worked as a clinical veterinarian for dogs, cats, small mammals and non-human primates (macaque monkeys) and as a freelance writer. She has also taught anatomy and physiology as an adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina-Beaufort. Her passion is educating animal lovers about pet care and common animal diseases. She currently has two mischievous tabby cats, Hummer and Piper. Both cats are also world travelers and enjoy basking in the warm afternoon sun.

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