Cats cost about as much as dogs for a lifetime of care. This includes premium foods, vet visits, routine preventative vaccines and medications, and average unforeseen expenses. It is somewhat easy to calculate how much food your cat will likely eat in lifetime with cats overall having an average lifespan of 15 years. Using the 15 year mark, it would also be fairly easy to figure out the cost of routine wellness visits, vaccines and other preventative treatments. It is the unknown area of unforeseen expenses that can be a serious issue for the unprepared cat owner. For example, cats are agile and adventurous, and that combination can lead to a broken bone. It can easily cost over $1,000 for vet care for a broken leg, and even more if orthopedic surgery is needed. Thankfully, pet insurance is a preventative measure that can help cover most of the cost.
Pet Insurance Providers (US)
There are only a few companies offering pet insurance such as Healthy Paws, PetFirst, Nationwide and Embrace. Each company is likely to differ a bit on what is covered and to what percentage. Most policies offer coverage rates up to 90 percent of the vet bill. You can select lower coverage amounts for a lower monthly premium. A deductible will also apply, so be sure to investigate if the deductible is annual or per-occurrence. If you’re looking for a handy breakdown of many popular insurance plans, this article from The Simple Dollar offers an overview of the process of finding pet insurance, including some recommendations for good plan and provider options.
Pet Insurance Providers (UK)
In the UK things are different! We have many many different pet insurances to choose from such as Agria Pet insurance. Each policy might vary again and it’s important to know that most UK pet insurance have an age limit for cats, meaning you have to insure your cat before this age! Failure to do so may mean that you won’t be able to insure your cat with them, however if you insure your cat before that age limit you will be covered continuously even after they reach that age. For a handy guide on insurances for cats check out the International Cat Care guide to cat insurance.
What Is Covered and Not Covered
No pet insurance policy offers coverage for any preexisting condition. For example, if your cat has diabetes, no diabetes testing, therapy or medications will be covered. Be advised that you will need to take your cat to the vet within 30 days before or after acquiring pet insurance (depending on policy regulations in your country). This visit along with the notes from other visits help the insurance company discover preexisting medical conditions. Hereditary, congenital, and chronic conditions can be covered as long as your cat does not already suffer from them at the time insurance is acquired and during the waiting periods.
All policies have a waiting period before coverage begins. This prevents buying insurance on the day it is needed. Usually pet insurance has a 15-day waiting period. For some specific conditions, the waiting period may be 30 days or up to a year. An example is hip dysplasia in dogs, which typically has a one-year waiting period for coverage.
In addition, no routine visits or exams are covered. This also includes things such as vaccines and preventative medications. You should also check to see if an office visit or examination cost is covered for injuries or illnesses that the pet insurance policy does cover.
Wellness exams are not usually covered under basic pet insurance policies. Many providers offer an option of adding the coverage. It usually only covers a portion of the costs for things such as dental cleanings, vaccines and routine checkups. For some policies the premium costs are like paying in advance and redeeming the service when needed at a discounted rate. You may only save a few dollars by signing up for wellness coverage for your cat with a pet insurance policy.
Consider Coverage Specifics
When comparing policies, look at annual and lifetime maximums. Saving a few dollars on the monthly premium with one company may cut back on the total amount of coverage for the year or a lifetime. Some policies have no limits on cost annually or during your cat’s lifetime. Also, be sure to check that coverage is available for the following:
- Accidents – Falls, etc.
- Surgeries – Be aware that some surgeries may be limited to one time coverage.
- Cancer Treatments – Radiation and chemotherapy.
- Chronic Conditions – Diabetes, kidney disease, etc.
- Hereditary – Acquired medical conditions due to genetics.
- Congenital – Birth defects.
- Emergency Care – After-hours care and visits to pet hospitals with 24-hour ERs.
- Rehabilitation – Long-term therapy to regain health.
- Hospitalization – In-patient stays for your cat at a veterinarian or pet hospital.
- Tests and Medications – Includes blood tests, MRIs, CT scans, X-rays, ultrasounds and IV, injectable and oral medications.
Pet insurance for your cat can help you to never have to face the decision of choosing between euthanizing a beloved companion or cost of care. Unforeseen medical care for your cat can easily climb into the thousands of dollars. Radiation therapy for treating a cancer can start at $1,000 and quickly climb to $4,000. Life-threatening and chronic diseases your cat is susceptible to can easily justify a lifetime of premiums for a quality pet insurance policy, so for many cat owners, investing in pet insurance is worth it.