You've just received an unexpectedly large veterinary bill, or maybe an animal has somehow found its way into your life. To ensure your pet's health, you need to budget for its care. Pet insurance is one of the shrewdest investments you can make.

Pets are so loyal and so low-maintenance that it's easy to forget how fragile and mortal even the strongest pets can be. Just ask the conscientious Rottweiler owner who walks her dog daily, feeds him the right food, treats him with care and kindness, and wakes up one day to find a sluggish 8-year-old companion whom subsequent tests detect is suffering from cancer. She's now faced with the prospect of amputating his leg before the cancer spreads to more vital parts of his body. It's an awful proposal to consider.

Invest in a Wellness Plan
A wellness plan – which is really just a frequent-buyer program – saves money on the treatments a conscientious pet owner would buy anyway. There's a nominal sign-up fee, then $20-25 monthly premium (depending on whether your pet is a dog or a cat, and whether it's older than six months when you enroll it.) For that you get discounted examinations, blood tests, a break on regular vaccinations and teeth cleanings that are almost worth the price of the plan on their own. The literature also boasts "unlimited" visits, which hopefully no pet owners abuse.

The largest privately owned veterinary practice in the United States operates inside one of the two largest pet store chains, and offers various types of wellness plans. It's billed as the archetypal ounce of prevention. After all, it's far better to bring your seemingly healthy pet in for a series of scheduled routine checkups than to wait for something frightening and frighteningly expensive to happen.

Veterinary Clinics Enjoy Profits
At this point the skeptical consumer asks, "What's in it for them?" Veterinary clinics don't stay in business by giving their services away. Even with pet wellness plans, they aren't. The clinics are still enjoying a healthy markup, and using the power of volume to earn themselves what will presumably be patients-for-life. A $25 payment, even in a month when your pet has no reason to visit the vet, is still probably going to be cheaper in the long run than an unplanned visit to a different vet.

Of course, some individual pets are healthier than others. Some breeds are predisposed to conditions that different breeds aren't. Bulldogs are susceptible to breathing problems and infections, while older domestic shorthairs succumb relatively often to chronic renal failure. That's why wellness plan providers offer plans at increased premiums for mature dogs and cats. The result is similar care for a higher price, which stems from two economic truths. First, older dogs and cats are close to death. Because such pets have shorter lifespans, the wellness plan providers have less time in which to make their money.

The Bottom Line
There's a difference between a wellness plan as outlined above and actual pet insurance, with deductibles and everything. The latter service is offered by formally designated insurance brokers. One major underwriter brands its insurance with the name of America's most famous non-profit organization devoted to animal welfare. A competitor bills itself as the only national company offering comprehensive pet health insurance. For prices similar to what the wellness plan providers offer, this insurer offers the following:

  • 90% bill coverage, beyond exam fees
  • Unlimited payouts
  • Preventative and therapeutic nutrition
  • No extra charges for chronic conditions.

You can find these plans through various independent clinics, or go the other way around and contact the insurer to find out which clinics it does business with.

Related Articles
  1. Financial Advisors

    When to Develop a Client Mental Capacity Checklist

    Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease aren't uncommon for elderly clients. Here's how advisors can create a plan for when mental capacity becomes an issue.
  2. Personal Finance

    How Tech Can Help with 3 Behavioral Finance Biases

    Even if you’re a finance or statistics expert, you’re not immune to common decision-making mistakes that can negatively impact your finances.
  3. Insurance

    6 Reasons To Avoid Private Mortgage Insurance

    This costly coverage protects your mortgage lender - not you.
  4. Insurance

    What's The Difference Between Medicare And Medicaid?

    One program is for the poor; the other is for the elderly. Learn which is which.
  5. Entrepreneurship

    Identifying And Managing Business Risks

    There are a lot of risks associated with running a business, but there are an equal number of ways to prepare for and manage them.
  6. Taxes

    10 Money-Saving Year-End Tax Tips

    Getting organized well before the deadline will curb your frustration and your tax liability.
  7. Savings

    These 10 Habits Will Help You Reach Financial Freedom

    Learn 10 key habits for achieving financial freedom, including smart budgeting, staying abreast of new tax deductions and the importance of proper maintenance.
  8. Savings

    Your Flex Spending Dollars: How to Use Them All

    Your flexible spending account is about to expire. Don't throw money away; here's how you can spend every cent (or roll it over).
  9. Budgeting

    How Much Will it Cost to Become President In 2016?

    The 2016 race to the White House will largely be determined by who can spend the most money. Here is a look at how much it will cost to win the presidency.
  10. Retirement

    Getting Through the Medicare Part D Maze

    Having trouble sorting through your prescription drug coverage options? Try these solutions to finding the right Medicare Part D option.
  1. Does dental insurance cover crowns?

    Dental insurance coverage may vary according to the type of plan and the level of benefits that you have elected. Most dental ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Do FHA loans have private mortgage insurance (PMI)?

    he When you make a down payment from 3 to 20% of the value of your home and take out a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Are Flexible Spending Account (FSA) contributions tax deductible?

    The contributions you make to your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) are not tax-deductible because the accounts are funded ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Does a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) cover Lasik?

    Flexible spending accounts (FSA) can be used to pay for qualifying LASIK procedures. LASIK is not the only laser eye surgery ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Are Flexible Spending Account (FSA) expenses tax deductible?

    Flexible Spending Account (FSA) expenses are not tax deductible. The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) states you cannot ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Does a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) cover acupuncture?

    A Flexible Spending Account (FSA) covers acupuncture. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has defined acupuncture as a qualifying ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center