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Should you get insurance for your pet? What you should know before you do

Posted at 5:24 PM, Aug 27, 2018

If you're a pet owner, you know your furry friend can be expensive, especially when it comes to their medical bills. 

Last year, Americans spent $17 billion at the vet. That's why more owners are now opting for pet insurance. But, is it worth it?

"When you are presented with a $6,000 bill for emergency surgery, you might only have to pay a couple hundred dollars," says Dr. Jessica Weeks, with BluePearl Veterinary Partner.   

Routine care for a dog can be on average $257, and for cats, it’s around $182, according to the American Pet Product Association.  

"Most people aren't prepared financially for those things that happen unexpectedly," says Dr. Weeks.

Last year, there were 1.83 million pets insured, and experts say that number is climbing.   

There are a few caveats with pet insurance, Dr. Weeks says. A majority of the plans do not cover shots and checkups. They only cover the big medical expenses, like treatments and surgery. Additionally, many plans will make you pay the bill in full and then they'll reimburse you after.   

"There are similarities as far as pre-existing conditions,” says Dr. Weeks. “If your pet already has an illness and you try to get insurance, a lot of times insurance won't cover that."  

That's why vets recommend you do your research. Dr. Weeks recommends owners with young pets get insurance.  

As far as the best pet insurance goes, Consumer Watchdog’s top three picks include: Healthy Paws, Pet Plan and Embrace Pet Insurance.   

"To be honest, when I have owners come in who have pet insurance, it's a huge relief on my part,” says Dr. Weeks. “So, I can offer standards of care of medicine and do the best that we can for those patients."