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Pet health insurance, is it worth it?

SEATTLE -- As pet owners know, the financial cost of owning a pet can add up! The ASPCA estimates we spend around $700 each year on our pets, but add in an emergency vet bill and that price tag can skyrocket into the thousands.

Q13 asked the insurance experts over at PEMCO, 'is pet health insurance worth it?'

"It depends, it comes down to a financial and emotional decision," Kristine Zewe, a quality analyst at PEMCO Insurance said. "Over the life of your pet, you'll probably pay more in premiums than you'll receive in benefits. But, keep in mind, if your pet is injured or has a serious health issues that insurance could be great for your finances," Zewe said.

According to Zewe, only about one percent of pets in the U.S. are covered, but, Zewe said, pet insurance is one of the fastest growing benefits companies offer to their employees.

"Depending on the plan, it may cover prescriptions and well pet visits, or it might just be for catastrophic coverage which kicks in when big expenses are faced," Zewe said.

Like human health insurance, pet plans can include deductibles, co-pays and monthly premiums. Zewe said premium costs vary based on your plan and the age of your pet, but $40 a month isn't unusual for a dog and cats are typically cheaper. And just like human health insurance, Zewe said, pet plans have coverage limitations, too.

"Shop around and find out what options are available," Zewe advised. "Ask questions just like you would ask if you were health insurance shopping for yourself."

Ask the pet health insurance provider:

  • Does it cover pre-existing or hereditary conditions?
  • Is there a waiting period?
  • Can you choose any vet?
  • Are prescriptions covered?
  • Is there a cap on benefits?

If the idea of paying for pet insurance doesn`t appeal to you, Zewe said odds are setting up a dedicated savings account for unanticipated health care costs with still leave you money ahead.