Nowadays, just about everything can be insured.
You might have coverage on your home, car, health, camera equipment; but aren’t you forgetting someone?
That’s right, you may want to think about pet insurance for your precious Shiba Inu.
Though at first pet insurance can seem like an unneeded expense, there are certain advantages to getting health coverage for your pet.
According to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA), about 68% of U.S. households have pets but only 1% of those pets are insured.
Therefore, if you haven’t gotten pet insurance for your Shiba Inu, you are obviously not alone in your decision; but with the rising cost of medical expenses for both humans and animals, pet insurance may be worthwhile in certain situations.
Deciding on if pet insurance is right for may seem difficult due to so many factors coming into play.
Petfinder estimates that the annual cost of even a routine veterinary visit costs anywhere from $45 to $200 for dogs, depending on your pet’s age and gender.
An emergency visit, however, can cost over $2000, especially if the cause of emergency is a severe injury.
We'll do our best to break it down so you can have a clearer picture of what options are best for you and your pet family.
How Does Pet Insurance Work?
Pet insurance works basically in the same manner as human health insurance.
There are different levels of coverage available, each costing a monthly or annual premium based on chosen policy.
Some plans insure costs of accidents (i.e. injuries caused by motor vehicles), or illness (arthritis, cancer, colitis).
Other providers will cover wellness visits and routine care, too, so you wouldn’t have to worry about flea and tick care, vaccinations and the like.
Most plans have deductibles —an amount that you have to pay out of pocket before coverage kicks in. This depends on the policy but can set you back a couple thousand if you are not careful about reading the fine print.
Another matter to consider is that pet insurance is not copay. You pay the full amount due directly to your vet and then submit a claim to the insurance company.
How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost?
The more comprehensive the coverage, the more the policy is going to cost you. Moreover, individual costs are decided by your pet’s breed, age, pre-existing conditions, and the tier of coverage you opt for.
The national average for healthy, younger dogs is $22 per month, according to Consumer Reports.
However the actual premiums for a young Shiba Inu adult will likely be closer to $35 per month on average.
Factors Affecting Pet Insurance Premium Costs
As noted above, there are a number of factors that affect the overall cost of your monthly pet insurance. These include, but are not limited to the following:
Age of Your Shiba Inu
Not all insurance providers are willing to take on an older animal.
Why? Because older animals, just like senior citizens, often require more treatment.
Some insurers will only accept your Shiba Inus if they are under 8 or 9 years of age. Thus, the easiest way to enroll into a pet insurance policy is when your Shiba Inu is still a puppy.
Additionally, if your Shiba Inu is aged 8 or older, insurance may not make sense financially for most situation due to the high premiums.
In these situations, it would be better off to set aside money for future care. Ideally, you should add money to this fund every month. So instead of paying premiums to an insurance plan, you would be contributing to your Shiba Inus health fund on a monthly basis.
Yes, just like people can still get denied for having problems, so too can you Shiba Inu. Is it fair?
Of course not; but it’s a sad truth.
You are required to declare any pre-existing conditions when getting insurance for your Shiba Inu. If you lie, you can get penalized. And if your Shiba Inu does have a certain condition not previously mentioned, the policy may be voided.
With the rule of pre-existing conditions being applied to pet insurance, switching your policy gets difficult.
For example, if you are in a lifetime policy right now and find your premium has increased, you might think it’s time to swap.
However, your Shiba Inu might have developed a hip disorder. You might have made a claim in the past about this issue, and because of that past claim, you will now struggle to find another insurer willing to cover care for the same hip issue because it would now be considered a pre-existing condition.
What Are The Pros and Cons of Pet Insurance?
Now that you have a general idea about what pet insurance is and how it works, let’s have a look at the advantages and disadvantages.
Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of pet insurance is key to figuring out whether or not you should enroll your Shiba Inu into a policy.
The Pros of Pet Insurance
- You can compare options easily. Contrary to human health insurance, which is a topsy-turvy tunnel of quotes, misinterpretation, and confusion, pet insurance is understandable. The policies are simply stated, tiers are comparable, and you can get no-commitment quotes from various companies without minutes online.
- In certain cases, premiums can be very low. When your Shiba Inu is just a puppy, or if you choose a lower tier of coverage, the cost per month will be less than a single meal at a restaurant. Such a perspective makes it a no-brainer to add some extra security to your pet’s life.
- You don’t have to be “in-network.” One of the worst things about some health insurance providers is that you might wind up losing your doctor if they’re not “in-network.” The beauty of pet insurance is that, as long as your veterinarian is licensed, you can use your pet’s plan to cover any medical expenses. Since you usually pay the cost out of pocket and then submit a claim afterwards, all you need is for your vet to provide a copy of the invoice and fill out a section on the claim form.
- Deductibles are manageable. Consider the cost of a one-night ER visit for your dog, which is anywhere from $250 and upwards of $1000 per night. With insurance, you know your precious companion will get the care they deserve.
- You can ensure that the health of your Shiba Inu is covered even though your financial situation is not ideal. All too common is the scenario of “economic euthanasia,” the period when pet owners face a catastrophe they cannot financially deal with and need to make the heart-wrenching decision to put down their pet. By investing in some pet insurance, you are investing in the future of your Shiba Inu.
The Cons of Pet Insurance
- Premiums can be high. Really high. Older pets and those with pre-existing conditions, or if you decide on a higher tier mean having to pay more than $50 per month. You need to think about all the options and decide if you can handle the extra expense.
- As if the pre-existing condition clause wasn’t bad enough, some plans even have breed restrictions.
- Many plans rely on what is called a “fee schedule,” meaning the insurance company looks at a list of common illnesses and treatments then decides how much to reimburse you based on how much they believe the procedure will cost. You may wind up owning more than what you would with a different policy or paying outright.
- You have to pay upfront. Though you have insurance, you aren’t actually saved from shelling out a large sum of money for costly and life-saving procedures upfront. Whether you have coverage or decide to go without it, setting up a savings fund for pet emergencies is really the only way to cushion yourself for the unexpected. That way, you can handle the upfront costs before reimbursement.
- Coverage is limited. Many plans will limit the amount that you can claim, so you might still wind up having to pay at least 20% of the medical expenses. Typically, we would opt for plans that have no coverage limits.
- The cost of insurance can outweigh the savings. This is especially true for healthy animals with no medical issues. For example, if the average cost of a monthly plan for a dog is $35, then that amounts to $420 year.
- Financially sound families may do better by investing their money elsewhere. For example at $420 / year, 10 years of paying premiums would come out to $4,200 that could be invested in high interest stocks / or funds. And in the event that their Shiba Inu needed major care, they would at least have the means to afford the care without worrying about a major financial burden.
Ways to Save on Medical Costs
Pet insurance may not be a right fit for certain situations. You may also decide to go without pet insurance simply because you can’t afford it.
One way to prepare for the worst (because accidents happen) is to create a savings fund for your pet so you can afford any future treatment or medications.
Here are some ways to save on medical costs so you can put some money aside for an emergency fund for your pet:
Ask your vet if there are any vaccines that can be safely skipped. There are some diseases that can only be effectively prevented by use of vaccinations. However, there are also some that aren’t necessarily required, depending on where you live.
For instance, you don’t need to get your Shiba Inu a ringworm vaccination since its a mild condition with an ineffective vaccine.
Taking a responsible, yet conservative approach to vaccinations will save you money while helping your Shiba Inu avoid the potential negative health consequences of over vaccination.
Protect your Shiba Inu against parasites. Ticks can spread a host of diseases, including Lymes disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Fleas can cause anemia, dermatitis and other conditions. Be sure to take preventive measures to keep your dog safe and bug-free.
Spay or neuter your Shiba Inu. Unless you plan on breeding your Shiba Inu, spaying and neutering is for more than just stopping unexpected mating.
Spaying and neutering can also alleviate some serious health problems, such as reproductive cancers.
Additionally and more importantly, de-sexing your dog can help with behavior issues such as aggression and escape tendencies.
Many ASPCA chapters will even provide you with low-cost or no-cost spaying or neutering.
Keep your dog happy and healthy. The American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) has some tips for keeping your Shiba Inu in tip-top shape:
- Keep your Shiba Inu at a healthy weight. Obesity for any animal is a serious issue, because there is too much stress on the body. By keeping your Shiba Inu trim, you prolong their life.
- Feed your Shiba Inu the appropriate diet. Though self-explanatory, many dog owners are not aware of about the dangers of most commercial dog food.
- Exercise your Shiba Inu. Though your Shibe might be a couch potato, the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle hold true even for dogs.
- Schedule an annual check-up with your veterinarian. Visiting the vet once a year will help you catch any health problems that could arise in the future so your work to prevent worsening symptoms now.
None of these preemptive steps require pet insurance to be completed, and you can save your Shiba Inu from health problems in the future.
The pros and cons of pet insurance have to be carefully weighed, including how healthy your Shiba Inu is right now and your current and future financial situation.
Would you rather spend an extra $500 a year on pet insurance or put that money into another form of savings?
Do you anticipate any changes in your financial situation in the future?
If, at this very moment, your Shiba Inu needed $3,500 worth of emergency vet care - could you afford it? What would you do if you couldn't?
Thinking carefully about this hypothetical scenario can give you a good idea if pet insurance may be a good choice for your situation.
Take some time to consider each factor carefully before making your final decision.
Our Favorite Pet Insurance Company: Healthy Paws
By and far, our favorite pet insurance company to work with is Healthy Paws.
Healthy Paws offers goods plans at reasonable prices.
But most importantly, Healthy Paws offers peace of mind to consumers because they have earned the trust of many satisfied pet owners - myself included.
Healthy Paws offers comprehensive plans with no coverage limits. And instead of a per incident deductible, there is an annual deductible instead.
The claim process at Healthy Paws is easy, fast, and proficient. They even have a proprietary app that can use to file claims with photos / images of invoices.
A few of the only downsides to Healthy Paws is that currently, they only offer one type of plan - no wellness plans available.
Additionally, Healthy Paws is only available in the United States.
Learn more about Healthy Paws Insurance Plans here.
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