Should You Buy Pet Insurance That Covers Routine Care?

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KEY POINTS

  • Pet insurance provides crucial protection for animal companions.
  • Insurance can come in handy if an animal gets sick or hurt.
  • Some companies also sell wellness care policies as an add-on.


Are wellness care policies really worth the money?

Any pet owner knows that animals can require a lot of care -- particularly if they get sick or hurt. That's why buying pet insurance can be so important. 

An accident and illness policy can be there to cover large veterinary bills if animals develop serious conditions such as cancer or heart disease, or if they are hit by a vehicle or suffer a fall or other injuries. 

But, while many pet insurance policies pay for treatments for illnesses and accidents, they typically exclude coverage for routine care such as annual exams, dental visits, spays and neuters, and regular vaccinations. However, it is possible to buy an add-on type of coverage in most cases that would pay for these types of services. This is typically called a wellness plan, or has some similar name.

The big question pet owners need to ask when buying coverage is whether purchasing this kind of add-on wellness care is worth it. To figure that out, it's important to read the fine print and consider the pros and cons. 

Is wellness coverage worth the cost? It's all in the details

To decide if wellness coverage is actually worth it, you'll want to make sure you find out exactly what is included. This can differ from one insurer to another.

Most insurers don't include an unlimited amount of routine visits to the vet, nor do they necessarily cover every single bit of care that an animal could need. Typically, one exam is included along with required vaccines. Dental care is often excluded, but things like prescription diets and even behavioral therapies might be covered depending on the plan.

If the coverage is comprehensive and it will pay for most of the services a pet needs throughout the year, then it may be worth buying the policy if the premiums are affordable. Pet owners will know upfront what their out-of-pocket costs will be throughout the year and will be able to pay steady premiums once monthly, rather than facing random vet costs over time.

But if the coverage is pretty limited in terms of what kinds of routine care are included, or if there are low caps on how much will be paid or high coinsurance costs, then the savings the insurance provides just may not be worth paying the premiums. 

Most pet insurers will provide a detailed description of exactly what is in each policy so reading this over carefully, adding up the likely costs of covered services, and comparing that to the premiums charged can make it easy to decide whether to buy coverage.

For example, if the plan will cover 80% of a $100 annual vet visit, $300 worth of annual flea and tick preventions, and $50 worth of vaccines, and the premiums cost $12 per month, then the policy would be well worth paying for. Of course, not all policies are this generous but pet owners can compare details like this to decide what's best for them and their pets. 

Consider the pros and cons

It's also a good idea to consider the advantages and disadvantages when deciding whether to buy pet insurance that covers routine care. For most people, the biggest benefit is predictable costs and the fact that there's no worries about vet bills throughout the year. The downside, of course, is that premiums will need to be paid regardless of whether services are used.

While accident and injury care is well worth paying for because the bills can be so unpredictable and so high, it's more of an open question whether wellness care is worth it, so taking the time to consider the pros and cons in their personal situation is the best course of action for any pet owner.

Our Research Expert

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