Dr. Justine Lee, veterinarian
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Ask the Vet: Should I Get Cat Insurance?

Est. read time: 4 min.

Written by Justine Lee, DVM, DACVECC, DABT

If you have a cat, you may wonder if it’s worth getting pet insurance. Well, it depends.

If you’re a good saver and can put away $1-$3 a day into a separate savings account for your cat, you may be fine without insurance. However, if you don’t have that emergency fund readily available, cat insurance may be a good option.

But, is it worth it? First, there are a few key things you need to know about pet insurance for cats. Check out the video below, or read on for the full article!

Third-party vendor

Pet insurance is unlike human health insurance, as it’s a third-party vendor. That means you still need to pay your veterinary bill up front; then, it’s up to you to seek reimbursement later. My veterinary tip? Let your veterinarian (or emergency veterinarian) know that you have cat insurance, as it gives us the heads up that we will need to submit the appropriate paperwork, get our medical records done in time, and more.

Type of coverage

The second thing to know? The type of coverage that you get depends on what pet insurance you choosesome only cover emergency care while others provide preventative care such as vaccines and wellness visits. My general recommendation is to just get emergency or catastrophic insurance, as an emergency surgery may cost you several thousands of dollars.

Limitations (genetic conditions & age)

Third, if you have a purebred (and no, your adopted long-haired cat likely isn’t a Maine Coonand in this case you definitely don’t want it to be!), there may be limitations on what is covered. For example, if a certain breed has inherited diseases (like Siamese cats with asthma), some pet insurance companies may not cover an emergency visit for this. Likewise, pet insurance has certain limitations on age. Typically, it’s less expensive when you get pet insurance while your cat is young, as compared to older cats who have a higher risk of cancer, kidney failure, thyroid problems, heart disease, and more.

Deductibles

Just like with your car and home insurance, the lower your deductible, the more you’ll pay for your insurance. If you’re able to pay a higher deductible, your fees may be lower. I personally recommend going with a higher deductible to help save some long-term costs.

Questions to ask

As an emergency critical care veterinary specialist, I’m a big advocate for pet insurance for cats, because it protects pet owners when a costly emergency visit occurs. However, you have to make sure to read the fine print before you sign up for cat insurance. Some important questions you want to ask include:

  • What percentage of the bill is reimbursed?
  • Are there co-pays?
  • Is the rate increased after a claim?
  • Is there a multi-pet discount?
  • Is there a discount for indoor cats?
  • Are chronic, pre-existing, or recurring problems covered?
  • Are specialty veterinary exams and visits covered?
  • Is there a waiting period?
  • Are alternative medications or treatments covered?

When in doubt, do your research and make sure to stick with a pet insurance that offers you the best reimbursement for expensive care (like emergency care, major surgery, and specialist care).

High-risk cats

Know that if your cat is high-risk for medical problems or accidents, it’s worth getting cat insurance! As a veterinarian, I define high-risk lifestyles as cats that may be:

  • Indoor/outdoor
  • Living with multiple cats
  • Overweight to obese
  • A chewer (likes to eat rubber bands, dental floss, plants, etc.)
  • Living with a lot of foster pets (exposing them to more infections)
  • Purebred (due to some inherited diseases)

Check out pet insurance reviews and do your homework. When in doubt, it’s worth keeping your cat (or cats) as healthy and happy as possible!

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