A vet examines a dogCredit: Photo Courtesy the US Consumer Products Safety CommissionAccording to the American Veterinary Medical Association, one in 10 pets will have an emergency that requires a trip to the vet. Although the cost of many of these trips is usually low, vets can now offer diagnostic procedures such as MRI’s that may cost hundreds of dollars. For this reason, organizations like the ASPCA and the AKC, businesses such as Purina and stores such as Petco as well as private insurers are now offering pet health insurance plans. 

Is Pet Insurance Right for Me?

The average pet owner will pay less than $200 dollars yearly in vet costs, according to the AVMA. This cost covers routine visits, shots and medications. MSN money state that during a routine year, pet owners are better served by bankrolling premiums in a rainy day fund and using this money to cover vet expenses than in purchasing an insurance plan for everyday use.

However, pet insurance will often cover more expensive medical bills such as a trip to a pet hospital in an emergency. An owner who can afford to pay this type of bill thanks to insurance may not be faced with the prospect of having their pet put to sleep because they can’t afford a lifesaving surgery.  

If you are considering getting insurance for your dog, cat or small animal, here are some things to look for.


Just as with human insurance policies, pet insurance policies cover different things. Some just cover major medical intervention in case of an accident, while others cover accidents and illnesses.  Comprehensive coverage that includes preventive care will also cover routine maintenance such as yearly checkups.  Additional insurance may be required for extras such as regular dental checkups. Pet owners should decide what they want out of an insurance plan and read over each potential policy before settling on a particular company.


In general, cheaper policies will cover fewer services than more expensive policies. Rather than assuming that a low-monthly payment is a deal you should determine what the policy covers and if you must first meet a deductible. If you have multiple pets, you should also check to see if the insurer offers a discount for multiple pets.


 One thing to consider is whether your particular breed of animal is prone to certain health conditions, and if your animal will be excluded from coverage due to this.  For example, many ferrets are prone to developing adrenal gland diseases. For this reason, an insurance policy with a low premium may not cover a ferret with this type of disorder, or may exclude ferrets from coverage completely. Pre-existing conditions (i.e. a disease that your pet already has) are also not covered by many pet insurance companies.


Unlike with human insurance, most pet owners must pay their own bills and then submit paperwork for reimbursement to the insurance company. If the thought of submitting medical claims gives you cold chills, you should familiarize yourself with the process of each company before deciding on a particular policy.