Pet Insurance and Alternatives

Planning for the unexpected

Throughout your cat’s life, unexpected trips to the vet aren’t uncommon. Any pet can be injured, have a sudden medical emergency or develop a chronic condition. And like humans, cats need annual checkups!

But vet care can be expensive. A broken leg, ingested foreign object or overnight stay with IV fluids can get into the thousands of dollars. MEOW Foundation encourages all pet owners to consider the financial implications of pet ownership, and veterinary care is one of the most important things to consider. Responsible pet ownership means being able to help your pet when they need you most.

So how can you prepare? Many pet owners choose to purchase pet insurance, while others put funds in a dedicated account for future vet visits.

What is pet insurance?

Like any other type of insurance, pet insurance lets you pay a monthly premium in exchange for the insurance company paying for certain types of vet bills.

Coverage options, deductibles (the amount you pay out of pocket before insurance starts covering expenses) and premiums vary widely across companies. HBC, President’s Choice, Petcare, Petsecure, and Trupanion are just a few of the companies that offer pet insurance.

Why choose pet insurance?

Pet insurance takes the guesswork out of vet bills. Beyond your deductible, you won’t have to make decisions about your pet’s medical care based on money.

Be sure to understand your policy well. Some plans only cover accidents or illness, while others are more comprehensive. There are often restrictions such as:

  • Older pets may not be covered or may come at a significant premium
  • Certain breeds may be excluded from coverage
  • Pre-existing conditions may be excluded from coverage
  • Routine items like exams or vaccines may not be covered

If you want advice picking the right plan for your cat, you can ask your veterinarian, consult online reviews, or ask for opinions from other pet owners in your life.

Alternatives to pet insurance

If you have a lucky pet who doesn’t have many unexpected medical needs, you may not end up using your pet insurance and will have paid years of premiums. So, some pet owners choose to put money in a dedicated savings account or keep a spare credit card on hand just for pet emergencies. That way, if your pet doesn’t end up needing much emergency care, the money is still yours.

There are limits to this approach – for example, if your pet ends up with a chronic condition that needs expensive medication, or if they have multiple emergencies within a short amount of time. That will empty your pet savings account quite quickly. But some pet owners are willing to take the risk to avoid paying premiums for insurance they may not use often.

Having a plan

No matter how you plan for your pet’s veterinary care, creating a plan ahead of time will let you make the best choice possible for your pet in case of an emergency or expensive medical condition.