You’ve just brought your new pal home for the first time. You remembered the essentials: food and water bowls, a comfy bed, plenty of toys and a toolkit of grooming tools. But over 99% are forgetting one of the most important products you need for your pet: insurance.

Pet insurance? What’s that?

Pet insurance is easy to understand. Humans have health insurance to cover the costs to treat their aches, pains and illnesses, and pet insurance does the same for their animal companions.

How does pet insurance work?

The biggest difference between pet health insurance and human health insurance is that pet insurance will reimburse you directly. You pay the vet bill upfront at the time of treatment, submit a claim and the pet insurance company sends you a check shortly afterward.

Is pet insurance actually worth the cost?

Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: Pets are more than just an animal — most pet owners treat them like members of the family. And like members of your family, they deserve proper health care. We already spend a lot of money at the vet. Why wouldn’t you spend a little extra every month to make sure the worst-case scenario will be covered?

Pet insurance is not about saving money, it’s about covering unexpected costs. It’s about creating a safety net you hope you never have to use. Pet insurance is protection for a worst case scenario.

But my pet is healthy! Do I really need pet insurance?

In an ideal world, your pet stays healthy until they reach the end of their natural life. Unfortunately, this isn’t taking into account reality. Approximately 25% of all dogs will develop a tumor at some point in their life. About 1 in 10 cats will develop Feline Lower Urinary Tract Diseases. You can expect more trouble if you’re coming in with a specific breed of dog — bulldogs, the 5th most popular breed in the US, have a 71% chance of developing hip dysplasia.

We don’t mention these statistics to scare you or make you sad. We do it because the saddest thing is an animal that can’t be taken care of because of a lack of funds. And don’t think you can get insurance once your pet is already sick — insurance companies don’t cover pre-existing conditions (which was also the case for human health insurance until the Affordable Care Act changed that).

Couldn’t I just put money aside for emergencies?

Emergency surgeries or lifesaving cancer treatments can easily run thousands of dollars, and with veterinary costs rising every year, those numbers are only going to get higher. Not only that, but it’s impossible to plan for unexpected illnesses or injuries. Disaster doesn’t always strike late into your pet’s life — emergency medical care can be needed at any time. Saving a few hundred dollars every year just isn’t going to cut it.

Of course, not every animal is going to end up costing you a fortune in vet care. We all hope that our pet will lead a long, lucky and healthy life. But you never know if or when a medical emergency will happen, and having a savings account with a few hundred dollars in it just isn’t going to cut it if you don’t want to confront the choice between your pet or your wallet.

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