Pet emergencies, like human emergencies, are unexpected, scary and expensive.
In fact, according to 2020 data, veterinary care in the United States is a $31.4 billion industry. With costs expected to continue to rise in 2022, how can you ensure your pet gets the best possible care in an emergency? First, you need to plan ahead for something you hope will never happen.
9 Ways to Pay for Pet Emergency Expenses
Here are nine ways to pay for pet emergencies, and we break them all down in this article.
- emergency savings
- credit card
- personal loan
- Work with your veterinarian to develop a payment plan
- low cost clinic
- Local animal shelters and rescue organizations
- Grants and Nonprofits
The number one way to cover any emergency veterinary expenses is pet insurance. For an affordable premium that you can factor into your monthly budget, pet health insurance means you only pay the deductible and/or coinsurance, depending on your plan, if your cat develops cancer or you dog with broken leg.
But for some families, the cost of insurance itself may be prohibitive. In this article, we’ll look at how to find the best pet insurance policy for your needs, but we’ll also look at other ways to take care of your pet in an emergency, especially for those who can’t get insurance for their pet pet.
Pet Insurance 101
More and more pet parents are turning to pet insurance to combat rising animal health costs. In a true emergency, pet insurance can be the difference between going ahead with an expensive procedure or having to deny emergency veterinary care your pet needs.
However, if you are already registered, insurance will only help in an emergency. What’s more, to prevent pet owners from signing up and trying to use pet health insurance to address a problem that the veterinarian has just diagnosed, most pet insurance companies implement a waiting period before coverage begins.
To ensure your pet gets the most out of their health insurance, sign the policy as soon as you adopt a new family member. Most pet health insurance policies don’t cover pre-existing conditions, so if you wait until your dog or cat is older to get coverage, several conditions diagnosed by your veterinarian in previous years may not be covered.
Things to Consider When Purchasing a Pet Health Insurance Policy
Thinking of selling insurance but don’t know where to start?We’ve put together a list best pet insurance company as a solid starting point in the industry.Top insurance companies include Tropanion, healthy paws, lemonade and Figo.
When choosing the best pet insurance company for your pet’s health and finances, consider the following:
Deductibles and Premiums
Higher deductible health insurance means lower monthly payments (or premiums), but it also means you’ll have to pay more for emergency medical bills before the insurance goes into effect. You have to balance a higher deductible with higher premiums. This works best for your personal budget, but never choose a deductible plan that you can’t meet, as that totally defeats the purpose of having health insurance. .
Most plans have an annual deductible, but Trupanion offers a more unusual solution: a lifetime deductible per accident or condition.For example, if your pet develops a chronic problem, such as hypothyroidism, that may require regular blood tests and medication for the rest of his life, you only need to pay the deductible once. From then on, all care related to the disease is covered by insurance. This may be a good policy for you if you adopt a breed known for specific chronic problems.
Coinsurance and Premiums
Once coverage begins, you may still have to pay some of the cost, just like a human health insurance policy. For example, if the policy advertises 20% coinsurance, you will be responsible for 20% of all veterinary bills Rear You have reached your deductible. Like higher deductibles, higher coinsurance plans generally result in lower policy monthly premiums.
Not all pet health insurance policies are created equal. Most companies offer basic options that only cover sickness and injury; often, these companies’ policies also include health insurance and even death-related insurance (euthanasia, cremation, etc.). Coverage determines the cost of the policy; if you’re willing to pay for the health visit yourself, you might save money by skipping that coverage and only paying for the annual check-up and vaccines.
Some policies do not cover specific conditions, such as hip dysplasia in certain breeds. Others allow for pre-existing conditions, but usually at a higher premium. Carefully consider any coverage you think you need, which may vary depending on the breed or age of your dog or cat.
lemonade A highly personalized plan so you can get the insurance your pet needs. You don’t want to pay for coverage you don’t need, but you also want to make sure you pay for the coverage you need.
Speaking of dogs and cats, most Pet insurance policies focus on these common four-legged friends. However, some insurance companies, such as Nationwide, offer coverage for pets such as birds and lizards. ASPCA pet health insurance even covers horses.
Pay for pet emergencies without pet health insurance
While pet health insurance is an ideal way to make sure you can pay for emergency medical bills, it only helps if you already have it when tragedy strikes. But if you find yourself with an uninsured pet and wonder how you’ll be able to afford the care your animal desperately needs, there are other options to explore.
The first thing to look at is your own savings. If you’re able to put money from every paycheck into an emergency fund, now is the time to put it to use. While the specifics may vary based on your individual circumstances, experts generally agree that a family should set aside three to six months of living expenses for emergencies. This includes necessary expenses such as mortgage or rent, groceries, utilities, health insurance, car payments (as well as gas and insurance), and recurring bills for any other necessary services.
However, a Bankrate survey last year found that more than half of Americans have not saved for three months, while CNBC found that less than two-fifths of Americans can rely on savings to cover $1,000 in emergency expenses. In 2020, however, 70% of American households own at least one pet. This means that not all pet owners can rely on their savings to pay for their pet’s emergency medical bills.
If your emergency fund doesn’t exist, and you’ve taken or paid anything to provide the best possible care for your pet, you do have other options for leveraging your net worth, such as withdrawing early from your retirement savings. Be aware, however, that this will result in a fine, which means you’re jeopardizing your financial future.
A better option might be to take on debt.
If you’ve had an unexpected vet bill before, you’ve probably heard your vet talk about the CareCredit credit card.This card can be used for expenses outside the veterinary medical field (such as Humanity dermatology, vision and dentistry), but proceed with caution. While CareCredit advertises options like short- and long-term financing and an interest-free period, the card is known for its predatory APR (currently 26.99%), which only prolongs the medical debt woes of those living on paychecks.
Instead, consider opening a new regular credit card when faced with a devastating vet bill. Credit cards can be dangerous if you’re having trouble keeping up with payments, but they can help in an emergency. Look for credit cards that have an interest-free introductory period. If you can only charge this medical debt to the card and pay it off before the interest starts, you won’t be spending any extra money, but you’ll be giving yourself a few months to pay for your pet’s health care, rather than being there on the day of surgery.
Even better, if you get a rewards credit card, you can actually earn Cash back or points when you use the card to pay for emergency medical bills. If your credit score is high enough, you might even be eligible for a sign-up bonus on a new credit card.
Qualifying for a credit card, especially one with little or no interest and rewards, can be challenging and take too much time. If you need to act quickly to finance your pet’s care, consider a personal loan.
If you can let go of your self-esteem and ask for money, family and friends are a good place to start. Please understand if you are rejected.
If you can’t get a loan from a friend or family member, you can turn to a bank or credit union. While getting a personal loan means you now have to juggle minimum monthly payments with a potentially high APY, it also means you can immediately fund your pet’s care.
Payment Plans for Veterinarians
If you’ve exhausted your other options for taking on debt — maybe even forward Agree to a more predatory loan option like the CareCredit credit card – ask your veterinarian if a payment plan is available. Often, a payment plan for your veterinary bill means you’ll pay more in the long run, such as using a credit card or personal loan; however, your veterinarian may have a more palatable option with less interest.
low cost clinic
If the estimated veterinary costs for the procedure your pet needs are too high and the required pet care is not immediate, you can always “shop around” for veterinary care at a low-cost clinic. You can usually find low-cost clinics within veterinary schools.
Check the American Veterinary Medical Association’s list of state schools to find schools in your area, then call those schools or visit their websites to see if they offer such clinics.
Local animal shelters and rescue groups
Local organizations such as the SPCA, humane societies, county shelters, and animal rescues may also offer low-cost clinics for everything from health screenings and vaccinations to urgent care. If you rescue your puppy from a specific organization, it doesn’t hurt to call to see if they have resources to help with emergency pet care.
Sites like GoFundMe make crowdsourcing easy and convenient, whether it’s helping a family after a natural disaster, helping someone experiencing unexpected financial hardship, or funding someone’s healthcare. If you’re a pet owner in need, there’s no shame in creating a GoFundMe for your pet.
In fact, GoFundMe has its own section of the website dedicated to animal fundraisers.
Grants and Funding
But you don’t have to rely solely on the generosity of friends and family on social media to fund your pet’s emergency veterinary care. A wide range of grants and funds are available to provide financial assistance to pet guardians in need.
We’ve identified some nonprofits that provide financial assistance to pet owners, but keep in mind that applying for assistance doesn’t necessarily guarantee you’ll receive:
- All Pet Health Foundation
- Dylan’s heart
- Friends and veterinarian help pets
- Moresby Foundation
- paw 4 heal
- pet assistance company
- pet fund
- RedRover Rescue
- Ross Fund
You can usually find more specific animal welfare funds for specific conditions or breeds and for different regions. If you need financial assistance urgently, do some Googling with specific search terms about your pet’s breed and condition and your location.
Timothy Moore runs the banking and investment accounts for The Penny Hoarder from his home in Cincinnati. He has worked in editorial and graphic design for a marketing agency, a global research firm and a major print publication. He covers a variety of other topics, including pets, insurance, taxes, retirement, and budgeting, and has been working in the field since 2012, with presentations on The Penny Hoarder, Debt.com, Ladders, WDW Magazine, Glassdoor, and The News Wheel, among others work on publications.