Pet insurance isn't legally required in the U.S. However, it could save you a hefty sum in medical bills for your furry friend. Unless you're confident that you can pay for an emergency procedure out of pocket, pet insurance may be a good idea to help you cover the cost — and avoid the heartache of having to choose between your finances and your pet's health. Especially if you own a pet whose breed is at a higher risk of getting sick, pet insurance could be a smart financial move.

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Do You Really Need Pet Insurance?

In a literal sense, pet insurance isn’t necessary. It’s not required by law, and vets don’t require you to have it to treat your pet. However, pet insurance is often worth it for pet owners who can’t afford to self-insure. In other words, if you cannot cover an unexpected medical expense related to your pet, then pet insurance could be a smart financial move. When deciding whether or not to purchase pet insurance, you should balance the cost of common veterinary procedures with the cost of a pet insurance policy.

Average Costs of Common Veterinary Procedures

Imagine your pet tears their ACL, and you’re looking at a $2,250 surgery. If that thought makes your heart race, a pet insurance policy could help you to avoid the stress of a hefty, unexpected vet bill. Rather than paying a large lump sum to your vet if your pet gets sick, with pet insurance, you’ll pay a more modest sum each month, and your insurance policy will help cover more expensive vet bills.

While pet insurance is most common for dogs and cats, even rabbits, birds and rodents can require emergency veterinary procedures. Pet insurance is an option for all types of pets.

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Even if you have a young puppy or kitten, you may still want to consider insurance. While puppies and kittens have a lower risk of medical problems than older animals, pet insurance is generally much cheaper for younger animals, and you can ensure coverage while they’re still young and likely have no pre-existing conditions.

Reasons Why You Should Consider Purchasing Pet Insurance

One of the most important reasons to purchase pet insurance is if you’re not confident in your ability to self-insure against emergency procedures with your savings. Since vet bills can often run into thousands of dollars, a pet insurance policy can help protect you from financial risk while ensuring that your pet has the coverage they need.

Not only does pet insurance cover emergency medical expenses, but it also often covers a variety of preventive care treatments. For example, many pet insurance policies cover yearly checkups and exams. So it is a good way to save money on pet expenses in both the short and long run.

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Whether or not to purchase pet insurance is ultimately a personal choice. But when looking at it solely from a financial perspective, it’s clear that, in many instances, pet insurance is a savvy money move. Vet visits can get expensive — fast. And pet insurance can help to significantly mitigate the costs. Plus, the best pet insurance companies also offer a variety of covered preventive treatments, like annual checkups.

How Much Pet Insurance Do You Need?

Like human health insurance, pet insurance comes with coverage limits, deductibles and reimbursement percentages that you’ll need to factor into your calculations when deciding whether this type of insurance is worth the cost. How much coverage you need ultimately depends on your pet’s type, breed and age, as well as your capacity to pay for vet procedures out of pocket. The more coverage you can comfortably afford, the better off you’ll be in the event of an emergency.

Consider These Factors


Is Pet Insurance a Legal Requirement?

There are no laws in the United States requiring pet insurance.

Some countries, like Germany and Sweden, require pet owners to have liability insurance. But in most cases, whether or not to purchase insurance for your pet is up to you. While purchasing pet insurance is a personal choice, it’s often a smart financial decision. Pet insurance can help to save you money in the long run. Even if your pet is very healthy, medical issues are often inevitable, whether they have a minor accident or simply grow older and require more care.


Frequently Asked Questions

Do you still have questions about pet insurance? Just like human health insurance, pet insurance can be a little confusing to wade through if you’re not familiar with common insurance terminology. We’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions below.

Whether or not you purchase pet insurance is ultimately up to you. You’re not required, either by the government or by your vet, to purchase pet insurance. That said, pet insurance is often a good idea since it can save you money on vet bills in the long run. Pet insurance can also make things easier by helping to take financial considerations out of the equation when deciding how best to treat your pet.

There are several reasons to purchase pet insurance. First and foremost, pet insurance can help you better afford emergency medical expenses for your pet. For example, if your pet is injured and needs surgery or becomes ill, pet insurance could help you cover the costs. While the exact details of how much pet insurance will save you depend on your policy, purchasing pet insurance will often save you money in the long run. Plus, pet insurance can help to mitigate the stress of paying for an expensive procedure out of pocket.

Pet insurance is not legally required. While you don’t, strictly speaking, need to purchase pet insurance, it’s still often recommended. Even if purchasing a pet insurance policy puts a dent in your monthly budget, it could still save you money in the event that you need to take your pet to the vet. Plus, you may also get certain items, such as preventative vet visits, covered for free.

How much pet insurance you need depends on a variety of factors, including your budget, your pet’s type, breed, and age, and whether or not they have any existing health conditions. In general, the more coverage you purchase, the better off you’ll be if you have to file a claim. But if you have a young, healthy pet with few health issues, you may want to opt for a lower amount of coverage.


About Margaret Wack

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Margaret Wack is a freelance writer who covers insurance, saving, investing, banking, and more. Margaret earned a bachelor's degree in classics, comparative literature, and poetry from Smith College and a master's degree from St. John's College.