You’ve probably seen advertisements for pet insurance or even gotten pamphlets when you’ve purchased pet supplies. However, you may not be sure what it really covers or even how expensive it is. Of course, there’s the bottom line that every pet owner wants to know: is it worth it?

What is Pet Insurance?

Pet insurance is basically health insurance for pets. It works similar to health insurance for people, and you can find all kinds of plans. Mainly, it pays for care if your pet is injured or develops an illness. Some plans will also pay for wellness checkups and vaccinations as well.

You’ll find a lot of the same terms for pet insurance as you would with people health insurance, like co-pays, deductibles, pre-existing conditions and premiums. It’s important to understand the various components of pet insurance before you sign up.

Deductibles and Co-pays

A deductible for pet insurance is the same as for your insurance. You must pay a certain amount before the insurance provider will pay. You can usually pick the amount, which will change your monthly premiums.

A co-pay is the amount you must pay for care after you’ve met your deductible. Some services may have a lower co-pay or none while others may have a higher co-pay. It’s usually based on a percentage such as 20 percent, which will be your portion of the bill.

Pre-existing Conditions and Waiting Periods

Your insurance policy will not pay for any medical conditions the pet has before you have coverage. This is one reason it’s best to get a policy in place while your pet is young if you plan to carry this type of insurance.

A waiting period is a length of time after you get the policy before the coverage will start. If your pet gets sick or is hurt during this time, the policy won’t cover the expenses. You should find out how long the waiting period is so you know when you can file a claim.

With pet insurance, you pay the veterinarian first and then file a claim for reimbursement. You can go to any vet you want and aren’t limited to specific clinics.

How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost?

Pet insurance is a lot more affordable than human health insurance. You’ll pay around $15 up to $30 per month for coverage. You can even find policies for less than $10 per month. Most insurers have basic coverage and premium coverage. Some may even offer a third option.

When comparing policies, read the fine print to see what’s covered and what the limits are. Most of these policies come with maximum limits for each claim and even the total amount you can be compensated for. You may also pay a different price for cats versus dogs.

As a loving pet owner, you want to be able to give your pet the best care. Pet insurance is one option to help you afford that quality of care for your best friend.