By Sonya Sellmeyer, Consumer Advocacy Officer for the Iowa Insurance Division

Pet ownership can bring immense joy, companionship, responsibility, and expense. Roughly two-thirds of U.S. households own a pet according to Forbes.  The most common pets are dogs and cats, with freshwater fish coming in a distant third. With such a substantial number of pet owners, understanding the value of pet insurance becomes pivotal when dealing with your finances.  

Pet insurance serves as a financial safety net, and may help cover veterinary expenses in the event of accidents, illnesses, or routine care. According to a National Pet Owners Survey, pet medical care has been rising since 2018 and it was estimated that $143.6 billion would be spent on vet care and products in 2023.  Understanding the prevalent health issues among pets is vital when considering insurance coverage. Common ailments include allergies, obesity, dental problems, and injuries related to outdoor activities.  Having pet insurance can alleviate the financial strain associated with veterinary costs, and it works much like health insurance with premiums, deductibles, copays, and policy limits.  

Policies typically offer various coverage options for all types of pets, including accident coverage, illness coverage, and routine care coverage. Accident coverage helps with expenses related to unexpected injuries, while illness coverage addresses the costs of treating chronic conditions. Routine care coverage may include vaccinations, preventive medications, and dental care. 

Selecting the right pet insurance plan requires consideration of factors such as the pet's age, breed, health history, and the owner's budget. Some policies may offer customizable options, allowing pet owners to tailor coverage to their needs such as life and theft coverage for valuable pets.  

As with any insurance policy,  pet owners should understand the policy terms, payment limits, exclusions, reimbursement schedule, and waiting periods. Many policies may not cover pre-existing conditions, hereditary or congenital issues, or certain breeds prone to specific health concerns. Understanding these aspects ensures realistic expectations and informed decision-making.  Comparing the policy terms and price quotes from licensed insurance companies can help identify the most suitable plan.

Some homeowners or renters policies may provide liability coverage if your pet bites someone or causes damage.  It’s important to read your policy and talk with your insurance agent to ensure what coverage you may already have.

Pet insurance can provide financial protection and a peace of mind for pet owners. Knowing that one can afford necessary veterinary care promotes responsible pet ownership and encourages regular check-ups, preventive care, and timely treatment. If you have any questions regarding pet insurance, call a licensed insurance agent or the licensed insurer for more information about the coverage.