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BENTLEY'S CORNER: Pet insurance

We explore the booming pet insurance industry.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — Earlier this year the New York Times reported that nearly 2 million pets in the United States are insured, a number that had jumped 17% from the previous year. It’s a growing trend and a topic we have discussed before on Bentley’s Corner but deserves to be revisited. 

Is buying a policy for your pet worth it?

“I don’t think that there are any cons. I think that the big part is to do your homework," said Dr. Denette Cooke, a veterinary provider in Chesapeake.

“It’s come a long way in the last 20 years and so what I recommend people do is visit petinsurancereview.com. That is basically a consumer website that lets people rank different companies... whether they were repaid in a timely manner and that sort of thing,” said Dr. Cooke.

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There are dozens of companies offering pet insurance policies. Lots of times this can become very confusing and you get lost in what is covered and what is not. This website helps group companies offering exactly what you’re looking for and it’s a good first step.

The next step is finding out what your budget is and exactly what you want your policy to cover for your pet.

“There is pet insurance for every budget. You can get it for just accident and illness, or you can get entire wellness plans that cover all your preventatives so you can fit one to your budget,” explained Dr. Cooke.

In regards to cost, what are we looking at in terms of monthly cost per dog? Dr. Cooke said to expect to pay anywhere from $25 to $65, depending on your dog's age.

If that seems high, listen to the kind of bills you could be facing if your pet is injured and not insured:

“Surgeries for a dog with a bad disc is a classic example; anywhere from $4,000 to $6,000 and that will likely go up in the next few years from $5,000 to $7,000. A knee surgery easily $4,000 to $6,000.”

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Dr. Cooke said to be careful and read every line in the policy because a lot of times there are exclusions that you may not be aware of until a diagnosis occurs.

“What I would say is, if we play our odds at some point in your dog's 12-15 year lifespan or your cat's 15-year lifespan, they are going to have a major expense. A major illness, a major surgery or hospitalization... that is going to pay you back for that pet insurance,” said Dr. Cooke.

All in all, pet insurance seems to fit the bill on being a solid investment in your pet's health as well as your own financial health in the event of your pet coming down with an illness or having an accident.