Pet owners today are famous for providing all the comforts and luxuries for their animals. Cats have veritable palaces made of scratching posts, and dogs often have overflowing toy boxes that would make a child jealous. It’s no wonder pets take up so much time and space in their owners’ lives; they are basically family by the time they get home with you. You fondly remember your childhood dog or cat and look forward to the next decade or two that your furry friend has with you. So consider the same protections you’d get for anyone else in your family, and spend a little on pet insurance.

If you, like most people, are not familiar with pet insurance, it is easier to describe it as pet insurance. Health sure. Most pet insurance policies are primarily for the costs of your pet’s vet visit and other medical needs, such as prescription medications. Pet insurance is typically a monthly payment, much like a health or car insurance policy, and comes with a deductible per year or per instance. Your pet’s visits to the vets may include copays and policy information exchanges, just like any of your own visits to your doctor. This can also lighten the cost of your pet’s regular vaccinations.

Now that you know what it is, the question is whether it’s worth it. While there are numerous types of pet insurance plans for every lifestyle, you should evaluate your own habits with your pet before deciding whether to commit. Keep in mind that even pet medical bills are very expensive.

Treatments for life-threatening conditions like cancer can cost several thousand dollars. Chronic conditions can be just as expensive when your pet requires constant and repeated treatment which drives up the price. Those with more money are more likely to be able to cover their pets’ medical costs without assistance, but those with less are much more likely to have to make difficult financial decisions about their pets’ health and well-being.

The purpose of insurance is to pay in preparation for the worst that you hope will never come. The actual cost benefit varies depending on the type of policy you invest in, but in general, they are designed to offset the high costs of accidents and illnesses.

Take into account your lifestyle and the type of activities that you and your pet do. If you have an outdoor cat, remember that the long swathes of time he spends wandering around have their own dangers. Dogs, whether you are an urban dog walker or a hiker, are exposed to many dangers. While this isn’t supposed to cause paranoia, dogs and cats are notoriously good at getting into things they shouldn’t and leaving you to clean up the mess, including their forays into the taste of chocolate or other toxic foods. Emergency medical treatment of this comes at a higher price than the average vet visit and you can easily save to save the life of your dog or cat.

Before you buy anything, read your prospective policy very carefully and several times. Have someone review the exact wording of the riders, stipulations, and other terms of the policy. You need to be incredibly familiar with what can be claimed for your pet’s health under the policy and make sure you shop around a lot between companies. Don’t assume that certain qualities are universal between two policies.

When the unfortunate time comes to make a pet welfare claim, you need to make sure you can get the coverage your pet deserves. Ask for details about what constitutes things like pre-existing conditions, congenital conditions, or developmental conditions. These are often used as reasons for denial of coverage. Specifically note how much you pay in your monthly rate and how your premium will progress.

An alternative to contractual pet insurance is self-insurance. Set up a specific savings account for the sole purpose of raising money for eventual pet health care. This way, you can control the exact amount of money you have available for emergencies and something to spare for your pet’s regular checkups and vaccinations. This takes discipline and time, so it’s not particularly helpful if your pet needs immediate medical attention after you’ve brought it home. It’s helpful to start your savings with a larger deposit at first and make smaller weekly or monthly incremental deposits to build up.

Pet insurance is a potential tool to help keep your furry friend healthy, happy, and in your life for years to come. It’s a solution for when your pet is sick and you’re not financially equipped to help them, but it also provides peace of mind. If you decide to invest in pet insurance, it’s best to do so sooner rather than later. Choose the plan -or not- that best suits your pet’s needs and your own budget.

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