Snake bites, broken bones, and swallowed objects can turn into costly emergency expenses that you didn’t see coming. Unfortunately, some of these circumstances can turn into life-or-death situations, and the last thing you want to consider is whether you can afford a critical procedure that could save your pet.
Pet insurance helps to mitigate the costs by allowing you to pay a smaller amount towards a policy every month, coupled with an annual deductible, to pay for coverage for emergencies when they do arise. Prices vary depending on the policy, and your pet, location, and the extent of the coverage you choose. Here’s a sampling of what to expect when you purchase a pet insurance plan in Alabama for your dog or cat.
The Importance of Pet Insurance
A pet insurance plan helps you cover unexpected expenses such as accidents and illnesses. Some companies offer a basic policy that’s cheaper than comprehensive coverage but will only pay for sudden emergencies such as broken bones as opposed to chronic care like chemotherapy. These plans start around $10 but may not include things like exam fees.
A comprehensive plan covers the same situations that basic does and will also come to your aid in the event of chronic illness, such as diabetes or cancer. Depending on the company, these plans may cost only marginally more than basic coverage, but they can give you much more security if your pet develops a long-term disease.
Top Rated Pet Insurance Companies
How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost?
In Alabama, it costs roughly $30-$40 a month to secure a pet insurance policy for your dog. A plan for a cat generally costs less, with an average monthly price of $15-$20. The actual price depends on whether you want a basic or comprehensive policy, as well as factors such as the age and breed of your pet. For example, if you live in an urban area, you’ll usually pay more than if you live in a rural place.
If you’re considering purchasing a policy, you’ll need to decide whether you would rather pay a lower deductible or lower monthly cost. Most companies allow you some flexibility with factors like deductibles and maximum payouts, but there’s always a trade. A lower deductible gives you a higher monthly cost, and vice versa.
To give you a visual example, here are quotes from three top pet insurance companies. The prices are for comprehensive coverage for a one-year-old male Labrador Retriever with a clean medical record who lives in rural Alexander City, AL:
|Maximum Annual Payout||$20,000||Always Unlimited||$15,000|
As you can see, there’s no way to receive an exactly fair comparison because every company has slightly different offerings. For example, Healthy Paws always has an unlimited maximum annual payout. Embrace doesn’t have a $250 deductible option. It starts at $200 and goes up to $1,000.
While Lemonade clearly appears to be the cheapest choice, they also don’t have as extensive coverage as the other policies since exam fees aren’t included in this plan. However, it’s worth noting that they offer $5,000 more of annual coverage than Embrace in this plan despite the lower price.
Additional Costs to Anticipate
Most pet insurance policies only cover accidents or illnesses depending on if you have the basic or comprehensive plan. A few companies also have a wellness add-on to include on your policy for an extra fee. The wellness plan isn’t an insurance policy in itself and can’t be purchased separately. Instead, it’s a monthly add-on that pays towards an allotment for routine expenses through the year, such as vaccines and microchips. Embrace has the most inclusive wellness policy with no limits on specific procedures, as long as they’re under the annual maximum wellness allowance of $250-$650 depending on the options you choose.
What Does Pet Insurance Typically Cover?
Depending on your policy, pet insurance usually covers treatment for sudden illness or accidents such as eating something toxic. Surgery, x-rays, and hospital stays are usually included, but other expenses such as exam fees aren’t always a part of the base plan.
Some companies have fairly unique extra perks, such as the free Televet included in the pet insurance policy offered by Fetch.
What Are Common Coverage Exclusions?
Unless you have a wellness add-on, pet insurance never covers routine, everyday expenses such as vaccines and deworming. Some policies may not cover spay/neuter surgery, and if they do, it might count as a wellness visit which will only be covered if you have the add-on. Cosmetic procedures such as tail-docking are also excluded, as well as costs related to breeding.
While most puppies qualify as long as they’re at least 8 weeks old, it’s worth receiving a few specific quotes if you have an older pet. Some companies put upper-age caps on senior pets which are considered in the last 25% of their typical life expectancy. Other companies may not cover specific age-related ailments, such as hip dysplasia, if you enroll your pet after a certain age.
Is Pet Insurance Right for Me?
If you own a pet, chances are fairly high that you’ll be faced with an emergency situation at some point in their life. Unfortunately, vet bills are high, so there’s no guarantee that you’ll be prepared to meet the unexpected costs. A pet insurance policy is a good idea if you want to make an investment to care for your pet in the long run.
However, pet insurance policies function differently than human healthcare by following a reimbursement model rather than going through network providers. That means you can visit any vet in Alabama—or the United States—but you’ll need to pay the entire bill upfront and then wait for your reimbursement after you submit your claim.
This model obviously has its perks, as you don’t have a $$$$ bill sitting uncomfortably on your credit card, but it might not work for someone with a bad credit score. If you don’t have a credit card, the good news is that Trupanion offers to pay their part of the bill immediately. The only downside is that you must visit a vet in Trupanion’s network. Otherwise, you’ll have to fill out a form or submit a claim to be paid retroactively like you would with the other companies.
Find The Best Pet Insurance Companies in 2023
No matter where you live, it’s important to secure a pet insurance policy to pay for accidents and illnesses when they occur. Prices and coverage vary depending on what plan you choose, the breed and age of your pet, and where you live. Receive a quote with your pet’s information and zip code to check out your options in Alabama, and always inform your insurance company if you move to make sure you’re still covered.
Featured Image Credit: Priscilla Du Preez, Unsplash