Caring for a pet is expensive, and veterinary bills account for a large portion of the cost of pet ownership. Even for healthy dogs and cats, yearly medical costs average between $160 and $260 according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. For pets with chronic illnesses, costs are considerably higher, and a single accident or catastrophic illness can result in a veterinary bill totaling hundreds or thousands of dollars. Fortunately, several types of programs, including pet insurance and insurance alternatives, exist to help owners afford veterinary care for their pets.
What Is Pet Insurance? Pet insurance reimburses you for a portion of your pet’s medical bills in the event of an unforeseen illness or injury to the animal. Unlike most human health insurance plans, most pet insurance plans require you to pay upfront for the care your pet receives. Once you have paid the bill, you can submit a claim to your insurance company. The company then pays you back a portion of the money you spent to treat your pet. Plans vary in the amount of coverage they provide and the types of conditions covered.
Banfield Pet Hospital According to their website Banfield operates a chain of pet hospitals associated with PetSmart stores. These hospitals offer plans designed to help consumers afford preventative care for their pets. Unlike most pet insurance plans, these plans are not intended to help people afford the unexpected costs incurred when their pets become ill or are injured. While Banfield’s plans do provide discounts on most health services, these plans are primarily intended to help with routine care including vaccines, health screenings, parasite prevention services, dental care and other preventative procedures.
Pet Assure According to their website Pet Assure is a discount plan for veterinary care. All pets, regardless of age and health status, are eligible to be enrolled in the program, and the plan has no exclusions. Owners of enrolled pets receive a 25 percent discount on all veterinary services from participating veterinarians and a 5 to 35 percent discount on pet services and supplies from the company’s network of online vendors. While Pet Assure is marketed as an insurance alternative, consumers do not have to choose between it and traditional pet insurance plans. Pet Assure can be used in addition to pet insurance.