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Articles by Fran

Printed monthly in The Union newspaper, Nevada County

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Pet Insurance

Have you ever wondered if pet insurance is good for your furry friend? Let’s delve into the world of pet insurance and see if it’s a good choice for you and your pet.

Pet insurance acts as a safety net, providing you, the pet owner, with a sense of security when it comes to managing potentially expensive medical expenses. Like human health insurance, pet insurance is designed to offer financial assistance for unforeseen veterinary costs. It covers the expenses of veterinary treatment, medication, surgeries, and other medical needs that may arise due to accidents, illnesses, or injuries. Depending on the policy, it can also include hereditary conditions, cancer treatments, surgeries, hospitalization, medications, and some wellness care.

According to the article “Best Pet Insurance of 2024,” most insurance plans require that you pay up-front for veterinary service and submit a claim to the insurance company afterward, but there are a few companies that will pay the veterinarian directly. A deductible, the amount you must pay out of pocket before the insurance company starts to cover the costs, is part of most plans. But even after it’s spent, most insurance companies only pay 70, 80, or 90 percent, depending on the reimbursement option you’ve chosen.

The cost of pet insurance can vary based on your pet’s breed, age, location, and the level of coverage you choose. Generally, pet insurance plans are broken down into four types:

Comprehensive coverage is the most complete and expensive coverage. It includes severe or chronic illness, hereditary conditions, diagnostic tests, surgeries, treatments, and wellness like routine checkups and vaccinations.

Accident and illness coverage typically covers accidents and illnesses but excludes wellness exams, medication, and vaccination coverage.

Accident-only coverage only covers bills if your pet is injured in an accident.

Pet wellness coverage. This type of plan covers wellness-related medical expenses, like routine veterinary checkups, flea and heartworm prevention, and vaccinations. You can often add wellness benefits to an accident and illness plan.

This flexibility allows you to customize the plan to your pet’s needs and budget. Generally, monthly premiums can range from $20 to $50. Before you select a plan, it’s essential to research different providers, compare plans, and read the fine print to find the best fit. A website that can assist you in this process is

According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), the average dog owner spends about $458 per year on surgical veterinary visits. Meanwhile, pet owners pay about $242 per year for routine veterinary care. In the case of cats, the average pet owner pays $201 for surgical veterinary visits and $178 for routine veterinary care. Keep in mind that the cost of veterinary care varies based on where you live.


So, how does that compare to the cost of pet insurance? The average annual cost of veterinary care exceeds that of pet insurance for dogs and cats, suggesting that pet insurance is worth it if you have comprehensive coverage.

Keep in mind that emergency care costs are much higher. There are many reasons for this. Emergency centers are open 24/7 and staffed by veterinarians who specialize in critical care. These facilities often have more advanced diagnostics and treatments available, such as MRIs, CTs, and oxygen cages. They often have access to other specialists.

Susan Murphy, DVM at Four Paws Animal Clinic in Nevada City, is thrilled when owners have pet insurance. She states, “I have seen many cases where owners can’t afford treatment and are heartbroken and choose to euthanize rather than let the pet suffer (well, not here, because I will find a way to fix it if I can) However, there are still quite a few cases that come here with very serious illnesses or injuries beyond what we can care for here, and the owners simply can’t afford ER treatment, so try suboptimal care or euthanasia. In other cases, people with insurance usually have no problems going to emergency clinics or specialists for complex (and very expensive) surgery or treatments. I have heard very little to no complaints about any of the insurance companies. Any I have talked with are very happy with their coverage.”

When it comes to pet insurance, there are pros and cons. On the plus side, pet insurance provides financial assistance for unexpected veterinary bills, allowing you to provide the best care for your pet. Some policies even cover wellness care, such as vaccinations and annual check-ups. Pet insurance is relatively affordable for most pets. Pet insurance doesn’t have healthcare “networks,” so you can see any veterinarian you like. Pet insurance can eliminate the need to choose between your financial well-being and your pet’s health.

On the downside, monthly premiums can add up over time, especially if you have multiple pets. Some policies have restrictions and exclusions, such as not covering pre-existing conditions or certain breeds. Additionally, there may be waiting periods before certain conditions are covered. For these reasons, weighing these factors and considering your pet’s unique needs and circumstances before choosing a plan is crucial.

The ideal pet insurance plan is subjective and relies on your pet’s specific needs, your budget, and the coverage level you’re seeking. It’s crucial to consider your pet’s unique needs and circumstances, research different providers, compare plans, and read the fine print to find the best fit for you and your pet. Pet insurance is especially worthwhile when you have young animals.

After reviewing your options, you might decide pet insurance isn’t for you. In that case, you might want to ensure you always have the means to cover unexpected veterinary expenses. You can also do everything you can to keep your pet healthy by providing high-quality food in the right amounts, daily exercise, and a safe environment. You might also consider wellness coverage.

In conclusion, pet insurance can offer peace of mind and help with unexpected medical costs for your pet. Just be sure to weigh the costs, coverage, and exclusions to find the right plan for you and your furry friend!

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