As more people bring new pets into their homes, more are also turning to pet insurance to help cover veterinary costs. Our furry friends quickly become valued members of our families, and some of them might end up with a health scare at some point.
If you’ve been investigating pet insurance, you might be feeling a little confused about the terminology. Specifically, what exactly is a deductible?
A deductible is the fee that you pay toward your pet insurance before you get reimbursed for any eligible veterinary care.
Here, we look at how this whole pet insurance thing works and whether it’s worth investing in.
Why Get Pet Insurance?
According to the American Pet Products Association, pet owners in the U.S. spent $34.3 billion on vet care and product sales (such as prescriptions) in 2021. On top of that, the average annual amount that a dog owner might pay for routine vet care, as well as surgery, can be as much as $700 in a year (compared to $380 for a cat).
The North American Pet Health Insurance Association found that in 2019, Americans spent $1.56 billion on pet insurance for just over 2,500,000 pets.
For some people, pet insurance can make the difference between paying for life-saving surgery or going into debt. It also depends on what insurance company you end up with and the kind of plans that it offers.
Pet insurance can help cover the cost of accidents like broken bones, health conditions such as diabetes, or sudden illnesses like cancer or eye infections.
But pet insurance means paying the deductible before you receive the reimbursement.
What Are Deductibles?
Paying a deductible is standard practice for every pet insurance policy, and it’s one of the most important parts of pet insurance. The deductible is a fee that must be paid before you get reimbursed. What determines the amount that you pay depends on the policy and your pet’s age, breed, and so on.
Deductibles can range from $50 to $1,000, though the average for many pet owners tends to be around $250. The higher your deductible, the lower your premium, which is the monthly fee that you pay. So, in the long run, the more you pay for your deductible, the more money that you’ll end up saving overall.
However, keep in mind that if you choose a high deductible that you can’t pay for right away, you won’t have any pet insurance coverage until you pay it entirely.
Different Types of Deductibles
Most deductibles are typically paid annually, though this depends on the insurance company. There’s also a per-incident deductible, which is the amount that you need to pay every time your pet is seen by the vet for a new condition.
With the annual deductible, you will pay the deductible every year out of pocket, which needs to be paid if you want to be reimbursed for any veterinarian costs. Then, the deductible is reset for the following year.
Most insurance companies use the annual option, but some companies, notably Trupanion, charge a deductible for each new health condition. What this means is that if your dog has a recurring health condition, you’re only charged the deductible once, even if you have multiple related visits to the vet during its lifetime.
The scope of the policy and the kind of pet that you have will influence the deductible. So, some policies might only cover accidents or they might include illnesses, and dogs will always cost more to insure than cats.
For example, if your deductible is $200 and your vet bill is $800, you pay the $200, and the insurance company will pay $600. But bear in mind that not all insurance companies pay 100% of the bill. Trupanion only pays 90%, so you pay the deductible plus an additional 10% of the bill.
While the per-incident deductible might sound like a great option if your pet does have a chronic condition, remember that while you won’t have to pay the deductible for any vet visits related to that condition, you will have to pay it every time you visit your vet for other issues, such as injury, ear infection, and ingestion of a foreign body. Some insurance companies will increase the deductible yearly as your pet ages.
The Deductibles From Top Insurance Companies
You can expect the premium and deductibles to vary from company to company. Here are the deductibles of the top pet insurance companies, which should help give you a better understanding of how it all works:
|Insurance Company||Deductible Type||Deductible Options|
|24PetWatch||Annual||$100, $250, $500, $1,000|
|ASPCA||Annual||$100, $150, $250|
|Embrace||Annual||$200, $300, $500, $750, $1,000|
|Healthy Paws||Annual||$250, $500|
|Pets Best||Annual||$50, $100, $200, $250, $500, $1,000|
|Pumpkin||Annual||$100, $250, $500|
|Spot||Annual||$100, $250, $500, $750, $1,000|
|Trupanion||Lifetime per-condition||$0–1,000 in $5 increments|
Example of the Deductible and Premium Payments
It will take time and research on your part to figure out the right insurance company and deductible that will work for you and your pet. The higher deductible you pay, the less your monthly premium will be.
Let’s use Pets Best to highlight how much you will pay every month based on the different deductibles.
|$100 deductible||$63.05 per month|
|$200 deductible||$51.67 per month|
|$250 deductible||$47.64 per month|
|$500 deductible||$34.14 month|
|$1,000 deductible||$19.06 per month|
Choosing the Deductible
An annual deductible is generally better for most pet owners. Deductibles that are based on each condition and health issue can be difficult to keep track of, and with every medical problem, you’ll be paying a different deductible. This can also mean you’ll need to wait longer to get reimbursed.
That said, if your pet does have an ongoing chronic condition, like kidney disease or diabetes, the per-condition deductible might work best for you. You would save money for frequent visits to your vet for this one condition.
When choosing how much you should pay for your deductible, aim for the largest amount that you can comfortably pay within the year. This will help reduce the monthly premium, and it can add up for those times when something unforeseeable happens and you will greatly benefit from the plan.
The lingo that pet insurance companies use can be confusing, so take the time to look at the companies that interest you the most. Researching the best option for your pet is essential because it is an investment in your pet’s health and you can save money in the long run.
Remember that most insurance companies won’t cover the cost of annual vet exams. Some companies will cover this cost for higher premium payments, though, so be sure to research everything before signing on the dotted line.
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