Most pet owners will agree their pets are part of the family. Faithful dogs and cats greet their beloved owners at the door, wake them in the morning, join them on vacations and shopping trips. Today, we seek out dog parks, cat spas and boarding that provides play time with other animals.

Since many of us spare no expense for our pets, pet insurance may be a logical next step. When injury or illness affects these beloved family members, the financial impact can be catastrophic as we agonize over their needed care. For these situations, pet insurance removes the financial question as we decide what is best for our pets.

Like our family health insurance, pet insurance has various levels of coverage, deductibles and limitations, but there are some significant differences. You will have to do your research to understand how and whether an available plan can help you.

Most pet insurance does not cover routine care

This doesn’t mean you can’t find it, but very few plans pay for spaying/neutering, vaccinations and other well and preventative care. Those that do usually bear a higher monthly premium. If you are quoted a plan, learn your veterinarian’s fees and do the math. You may find you are paying more for the insurance than you would pay out of pocket for your pet’s care.

Shop for plans that cover illness, injury and surgery

Plans that cover specifically these unanticipated problems can be purchased for as little as $10 a month for the lowest level. You will want to check the deductible amounts and also what percentage of the total is covered, generally 70% to 90%. If you are willing to pay a higher deductible, you can lower your premium for a higher level of coverage.

Multiple factors figure into your quote

Where you live, your breed of dog or cat and the age of your pet will all impact the quote you receive from any insurer. Older pets usually need more care and some breeds may be vulnerable to certain conditions. Also keep in mind that pre-existing conditions are never covered.

Pet insurance features several advantages we don’t find with our family health insurance. Deductibles in general tend to be low and you can take your pet to your favorite veterinarian since you submit your claim yourself. While routine care isn’t covered, many will cover the cost of one office visit each year. Many also offer some bonuses, such as reimbursements for boarding a pet during a family emergency.

The biggest disadvantage with pet insurance is you have to pay upfront and wait to be reimbursed. You also should be aware of limitations on annual benefits. Most plans will have a maximum they will pay out each year, so consider this in your out of pocket cost if your pet is accident or illness prone.

Pet insurance can provide significant peace of mind for those who are willing to consider every possible option to save their pet. If you have questions about whether pet insurance is right for you, talk to the veterinarians at Lake Cable Animal Hospital.