Sa El is the Co-Founder of Simply Insurance and specializes in Life & Health Insurance, and he is certified in Long Term Care Insurance.
With 67% of American households owning at least one pet, it’s easy to understand the love and attachment we have to our furry friends. People often refer to their pets as their “fur babies” and use the expression “pets are people, too.” Well, we are learning that when it comes to the pandemic’s effect on mental health, pets are more like people than we may have thought.
The Covid-19 crisis has brought some heartening news about pets. Pet adoptions soared to unprecedented levels. Pet shelters were emptying their kennels. Some even started maintaining adopter waiting lists.
It was a delightful story at first. Pet owners who worked from home and craved company and comfort had much more time to spend with their adoptees. But as time wore on, it became apparent that all that togetherness didn’t amount to a fairy tale, after all.
Some pets started to show signs of mental distress, which manifested itself in behaviors pet owners had a hard time abiding, from incessant barking to imperfect potty manners. In fact, the Covid-19 pandemic is spurring an increase in mental health concerns within the pet community.
All of this could leave pet owners flummoxed and looking for help. Believe it or not, pet health insurance may be part of the answer.
Working in the insurance industry, I’ve found that the best pet health insurance plans cover the veterinary costs associated with diagnosing behavioral problems in pets. The pet insurance industry has been growing for years, but demand is increasing in the wake of Covid-19, including from employees. Walmart has even started offering pet insurance to customers.
Pet debt can be an issue. Animal owners sometimes won’t pay other essential bills to be sure their pets are well cared for. Or they rack up high-interest credit card balances paying for pet care. A 2019 LendEDU survey of 1,000 pet owners found that 45% of them reported spending as much or more on pet health care than they do on their own.
Vet visits can add up to big bucks. But “sick visits” — even those that qualify as mental health care — are routinely covered by pet insurers.
Maybe you’re wondering whether pet insurance policies are worth the cost. Like any insurance, policies vary, and there are ways to economize. Higher deductibles and lower coverage limits can bring down premiums.
According to Value Penguin, the average cost in 2021 of insuring a dog against accidents and illnesses is about $48 per month. Cat insurance won’t set you back quite as much — about $29.
Pet insurance covers diagnostic services, hospitalizations, surgery, emergency care, treatment for serious illnesses like cancer and more. Unlike health insurance for pet owners, pet insurance typically does not cover preexisting conditions, including hip dysplasia treatment or surgeries required to treat cruciate ligament injuries.
But when you consider that a single surgery or course of chemotherapy can cost thousands of dollars, those premiums don’t look so bad. Many pet owners have had to make the heartbreaking decision to euthanize their pets because they couldn’t cover the cost of treating them when they fell seriously ill. Pets are often surrendered to shelters for the same reason, leaving shelters to foot the bill for veterinary care and pets waiting (sometimes again) for adoption.
We buy all kinds of insurance hoping we never have to use it and for the peace of mind that comes with it. And as pets weather the stress of Covid-19, pet insurance may be good for their peace of mind, too.
The information provided here is not investment, tax or financial advice. You should consult with a licensed professional for advice concerning your specific situation.