Is Pet Insurance For You?

The following is a guest post written by Dr. Jack Stephens, veterinarian and Pets Best Insurance President and Founder.

As a veterinarian, and the founder of the US pet health insurance industry, I innately want to treat every pet that has a chance to recover and remain a beloved companion. Helping pets is the reason I entered the profession in the first place-- to treat and cure them.  However, all too often pet owners are financially unprepared for a pet’s unexpected accidents or illnesses. That is why over 30 years ago I started pet insurance in the United States. In 1981 a client asked me to euthanize her dog because she couldn't afford treatment. Shortly after, I ran into the woman with her daughter at a local store. When the client asked her child if she remembered me, she responded, “Yes, he's the one who killed my dog."

After this experience, I was determined to stop “economic euthanasia” in pets. It was shortly after that time that I founded the first U.S. pet insurance company. I have since founded another pet insurance company, Pets Best Insurance, which I lead today.

I understood that pet owners needed a method to help them always afford veterinary care. The method had to be reliable, financially sound and always available when needed for financial assistance—and the method was pet health insurance.

Pet insurance plans helps pet owners pay for unexpected medical events that happen frequently and infrequently to pets. It covers visits, treatments, surgery, diagnostics and even emergency visits for pets. Even routine pet care can be added for additional premium, when pet owners want coverage for wellness visits, immunizations, teeth cleaning or annual diagnostic screening test.  Pet insurance is a type of property insurance and is regulated by each State Department of Insurance, with all the license, financial reserve and reporting requirements of an insurance company.

Unlike human health care, pet health insurance allows the pet owners to choose their own veterinarian.  Pet insurance also does not set prices or restrict procedures, as with human health plans—it simply pays for the veterinary services.  After a deductible, the insurance will pay 70, 80, 90% or 100% of coverage, depending on the plan and company chosen.  There are several deductible options, such as $100, $250, $500 or $1,000. Most, but not all pet health insurance pays the percentage selected (70, 80, 90%) of your pet’s cost for care.

With pet insurance, a pet owner can leverage their spending power.  For instance, with a $100 deductible, 80:20 plan, where the insurance pays 80% after the deductible, the leverage is nearly 5X as much as otherwise affordable by the average pet owner. Surveys of pet owners demonstrate that due to limited discretionary income they will put their pet to sleep if the cost is more than $1,400 on average.  However, with insurance the average pet owner can afford $7,000 in pet cost and still only be out of pocket the affordable $1,400. 

 Purchasing a pet insurance plan for your pet will help provide peace of mind in knowing you can more easily afford nearly any care your pet might need.  It is also important because it allows pet owners to budget for their pet’s care. By paying an affordable monthly premium, pet owners have the power of leveraging their spend to avoid going into debt or sacrificing savings for unexpected pet care, something a pet savings account cannot perform.  Your pet may have a serious accident or illness before you have enough time to save a sufficient amount or your pet may have multiple medical problems in a short period of time, overwhelming any savings accumulated.

The cost of pet insurance will vary based on a number of factors, including the choice of plans, your pets’ breed, age and where you live.  An average annual premium for Pets Best is $370 per year for a good comprehensive plan. There are a number of ways to decrease your cost, such as with higher deductible and co-payment options. 

To summarize whether pet insurance is right for you, consider the following questions:

  1. Is the health of your pet very important to you?
  2. Do you seek veterinary care when your pet is ill or injured?
  3. Do you like to operate on a budget?
  4. Do you prefer to use insurance to mitigate or reduce your risk?
  5. Will you do whatever it takes to restore your pet’s health?

If you answered yes to the majority of these questions, then cat or dog insurance would be a wise choice for unexpected and costly accidents and illness that may happen to your pet.

For more information about pet insurance visit

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