Some things that affect the cost of pet insurance aren’t easy to change, like the zip code you and your pet live in. which just makes it smart to take advantage of factors you can control to get a policy for less.
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The steps below have been proven to reduce pet insurance premiums, which average $50 a month for a dog and about $30 for a cat. Admittedly, some involve the type of pet you have, so they won’t help current owners, except perhaps to account for future furry acquisitions. others involve researching ways to save. the rest are policy features you’ll need to consider together, to come up with a balance that suits your budget and your pet’s ownership style, like how much of the annual deductible you can afford and how much of each vet bill you’ll get refunded after that.
Reading: How can i reduce pet insurance cost
Together, these seven steps can help you significantly reduce the cost of insuring your pet.
get a cat instead of a dog
If you’re shopping for pets and are open to a cat or dog, you can save significantly on insurance by favoring a feline.
When the money looked at premiums for both species from five companies, dogs cost an average of $250 more a year for popular comprehensive (accident and sickness) plans, and the gap was about the same for policies that also included wellness coverage. Despite the fact that dogs live fewer years on average, you could still easily spend $1,500 more over your lifetime to insure a dog instead of a cat. Dogs cost more to insure than cats, in part because of data showing they need grooming more often than cats, and are more expensive when they are needed.
adopt a mongrel pet
Stray dogs are less prone to serious hereditary, congenital or chronic diseases than some breeds of dogs and cats. for example, a 15-year study of dogs found that mongrels had a significantly lower risk of contracting 10 of the 24 disorders tested.
For example, dog breeds that tend to be brachycephalic (such as French and British Bulldogs, Pugs, Boston Terriers, Lhasa Apsos, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, and others) have trouble breathing and must work harder to cool down your body temperature. these breeds also suffer disproportionately from brain disorders, skin cancer, fungal skin diseases, birthing difficulties, and back problems.
Certain cat breeds are also more prone to certain conditions than the general cat population. For example, purebred Abyssinians and Siamese, among other breeds, more often suffer from amyloidosis, a condition in which certain proteins in the cat’s blood cause liver and kidney problems.
Even with a pet of a problem breed, chances are you won’t develop an inherited condition. but the comparatively high possibility of that, and the high costs if they do, translate into higher premiums. (For example, a soft palate resection for a brachycephalic dog can cost up to $1,500 and may be just one of several such procedures the animal requires.)
When the money looked at premiums for five dog breeds, insurance for a French bulldog cost an average of $679 a year, which was $162 more than for a golden retriever. (In the middle, in ascending order of rewards: Labradors, German Shepherds, and English Bulldogs.)
Those premium differences could easily add up to a thousand dollars or more over a dog’s lifetime. and could well add up to a higher cost for the dog itself than for a stray dog.
If, however, you’re determined to buy a purebred pet, research the most common conditions in the breeds you’re interested in, using a list such as that from the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association. then familiarize yourself with information, including from other veterinary sources and insurers, about what it might cost to treat those conditions.
consider how many risks to insure
You probably want a “comprehensive” policy that covers both accidents and illnesses, as most pet owners do. however, you can save almost $400 a year on average by insuring a dog and more than $200 by insuring a cat by choosing an accident-only plan instead of a comprehensive plan. Of course, an accident-only policy will not cover illness. (Illness-only plans, unfortunately, are rare or non-existent.)
A better savings strategy might be to resist adding so-called wellness coverage to your policy. Even comprehensive plans don’t cover routine and preventive care, such as vaccinations, tick and flea treatments and the like; they generally require adding a welfare rider at an additional cost. while the additional cost is typically much less than the comprehensive plan premium, so is the return, which for most pets will amount to only a few hundred dollars per year. If you waive this coverage, you can always set aside the premium dollars you’ll save for a fund to cover wellness visits and your copays for accident and sickness coverage.
As with most other forms of insurance, shopping around for pet insurance can result in significant savings. In our survey of insurance costs, premiums for comparable coverage differed by as much as $380 a year for dogs and $167 a year for cats.
Many insurers, including the best pet insurance money options, allow you to get personalized individual quotes. Another option is to use aggregators, such as 365 pet insurance, which offers quotes for multiple companies.
once you’ve gathered a number of premiums, check out the sample policies that companies post on their websites, which describe the scope of coverage. while most companies offer similar coverage with plans of the same type, the covered procedures they include in each, which in turn translates into higher or lower prices for you.
choose a large deductible
As with other forms of insurance, pet policies allow you to choose from several options that affect how much of your annual care costs you’ll bear. it’s worth adjusting them to strike a balance of low premiums and enough coverage that works for your priorities and budget.
The size of your deductible dictates the amount you must cover each year before your pet insurance plan kicks in. While deductibles can range from $100 to $1,000, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, in 2019, found the most common deductible options to be $250, $500, or $750.
Lower deductibles lead to higher premiums, while higher deductibles lower rates. When we looked at the effects of various deductibles on comprehensive dog and cat policies, we found that you’d typically save at least $200 a year by opting for a $500 deductible instead of a $200 deductible. with an even higher deductible, the savings are more than double; A policy with a $1,000 deductible costs $450 less per year than one with a $200 deductible.
reduce reimbursement rate and annual limit
The deductible that fits your budget will also be affected by the percentage of bills your policy will reimburse. Instead of paying vets directly, insurers reimburse you for a percentage of your vet bills (after meeting the deductible). companies typically let you choose between a 70%, 80%, and 90% refund.
Unsurprisingly, choosing a lower reimbursement rate lowers premiums, though typically less than changing your deductible amount. our pricing survey found annual premium savings of about $50 for every additional 10% of reimbursement you waive. i.e. going from 90% to 80% rebate saves about $50, and opting for 70% instead of 90% saves about $100 a year.
Now consider another cost variable for your pet insurance: the upper limit of the total annual costs you want the policy to cover. we found that doubling the annual limit from $5,000, a popular amount, to $10,000 would increase premiums by more than $60 a year. adding an extra $20,000 in coverage adds about the same, for a total increase of about $130 for a $30,000 limit compared to a $5,000 limit.
When deciding on the best limit for you, keep in mind that you’ll have to pay part of that expense, typically between 10% and 30%, depending on the reimbursement level you’ve chosen. don’t max out your limit unless you’re willing and able to pay a four-figure copay in case your animal requires expensive procedures. For example, an $8,000 bill for cancer treatment would require you to contribute $2,400 as a copay.
look for discounts
As with other insurers, pet insurance companies offer various discounts. for example, depending on the insurer, you could get up to a 10% discount by insuring more than one pet. companies may offer military discounts, discounts for paying your annual policy in advance. A few, like Embrace, even offer decreasing deductibles for each year you’re claim-free. sometimes it is possible to combine several of these discounts, allowing you to apply and benefit from more than one.
You can also save through alternatives like veterinary discount programs like pet insurance or medical financing cards like care credit. while neither of these provide pet insurance per se, they may help defray costs.
Pet insurance is an investment that offers peace of mind knowing you won’t have to cover expensive veterinary bills on your own. By keeping these seven tips in mind, you can find a policy that meets your pet’s needs for less money.
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