Don’t just fall back on this policy.
- Pet insurance could pay the tab for expensive vet bills.
- But it is important to have savings because insurance does not cover everything.
- Plus, pet owners usually have to pay out of pocket and get reimbursed later.
When my family adopted our dog about two years ago, one of the first things I did after bringing him home (other than buying a new vacuum cleaner to pick up the fur I knew he would lose) was to increase my emergency fund. This isn’t the first dog I’ve had, and I know full well that having a pet can mean dealing with a world of unforeseen expenses.
These days, I always do my best to put a little extra money into my pet care savings account, even though I have a pet insurance policy. And you might want to do the same for these reasons.
1. Some services may not be covered
There are many medical services covered by pet insurance. But that doesn’t mean pet owners won’t face any reimbursable veterinary bills after a pet insurance policy is in place.
In fact, one thing you need to know about how pet insurance works is that it won’t cover an animal’s pre-existing conditions most of the time. It’s something my family learned the hard way. We couldn’t get our insurance in place fast enough and ended up shelling out thousands of dollars in pet care bills soon after adopting our dog.
Also, although pet insurance generally covers the cost of unscheduled surgeries, coverage can be capped at a certain limit. In other words, one insurance policy might cover $4,000 of a $5,000 surgery. But that would still leave a pet owner on the hook for the remaining $1,000.
Finally, just as human health insurance often requires people to pay a deductible before it takes effect, many pet insurance policies also work this way. It is therefore important to have savings to find this money.
2. You may have to pay for treatment and then be reimbursed
Those of us with human health insurance may be used to going to the doctor, getting treatment, paying a co-pay, and calling it a day. Pet insurance often doesn’t work that way. Rather, what typically happens with pet insurance is that the pet owner pays the vet’s bill and then submits a claim to their insurer for reimbursement. But that won’t necessarily happen right away, so it’s important to have cash on hand to pay those bills up front.
Make sure you have plenty of savings
Having a dog is one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. But the reality is that I spent a lot of money on him that has nothing to do with medical care. I invested in gear, toys (which I hardly buy anymore since my big guy destroyed them in minutes), and of course, food and treats. And having savings has allowed me to buy the things I need – and he needs – without worry.
If you’re considering adopting a pet, it’s important to have a solid level of savings and then maintain your savings, even if you decide to purchase pet insurance.