Some Pet Insurance Policies Cover Routine Care. Here's Why You May Want to Avoid Them

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  • Pet insurance can protect you from sky-high costs if your pet gets sick or injured. 
  • While some policies include coverage for routine care, they're not necessarily your best bet.
  • The cost of the policy may exceed your spending for routine vet care.

It's all about what's most cost-effective.

If you're adopting a pet, one of the most important steps you can take early on is to purchase pet insurance. Without pet insurance, you could end up on the hook for thousands upon thousands of dollars in vet care bills if your pet is injured or falls ill and needs surgery. 

Even the cost of diagnosing a medical condition can be astronomical when it comes to pets. Human health insurance will often pick up the tab for things like MRIs when they're deemed medically necessary. But without pet insurance, you might pay hundreds of dollars if your pet needs an X-ray and thousands for tests that are more involved.

But while it definitely makes sense to buy pet insurance to protect yourself from catastrophic pet care bills, it doesn't always make sense to buy a policy that includes coverage for routine care. Here's why.

You might end up spending more

Standard pet insurance generally doesn't cover routine care for animals. Rather, it covers things like illnesses and injuries. 

But some policies cover routine care by incorporating a wellness plan. That sort of plan may entitle you to one free well checkup per year at the vet, and it might even help pick up the tab for certain preventive medications (dogs, for example, often take medication monthly to protect against fleas, ticks, and heartworm).

Now at first, a pet insurance policy with a wellness or routine care component might seem like a good idea. That way, you won't have to factor veterinary care into your budget. 

The problem with these policies, though, is that they can be very expensive. And in some cases, you'll spend more to get coverage for routine care than you'd pay for that care outright. 

Imagine you can buy a standard pet insurance policy for $80 a month, or a policy that includes wellness and routine care for $130 a month. All told, that's an extra $600 a year for that upgraded policy. If the cost of your pet's preventive medications is only $30 a month and a regular annual vet visit is $120, that leaves you with a total cost of $480. That's less than what you'd be paying for the enhanced pet insurance coverage.

What’s more, even if your pet insurance policy's wellness coverage ends up saving you money, it may come with certain restrictions or limitations. Plus, even with pet insurance, it's common to pay your pet care costs upfront and then submit a claim and wait to get reimbursed. So a policy that covers routine care may not even help you from a cash flow perspective, since you may be looking at higher monthly premiums plus all of that money out of pocket.

Run the numbers

Getting a more comprehensive pet insurance policy might appeal to you. But before you move forward, crunch the numbers to see if that makes financial sense. You may come to the realization that you're better off paying for routine and preventive care out of pocket, and leaving your insurance policy to bail you out for major medical events.

Our Research Expert

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