Should you buy pet insurance for your pup? How does it work? We dug up everything you need to know to keep your fur baby safe and sound without losing your shirt.

sleeping puppy with blankets
Photography by J. Danielle Wehunt/Stocksy
| Credit: Photography by J. Danielle Wehunt/Stocksy

Pricing Varies

On average, expect to pay $35 to $55 each month per pet. (Cats will cost less than dogs.) "Price is determined using a number of factors, including species, breed, and age, as well as deductible, annual limit, and reimbursement percentage," says Liz Watson, vice president of ASPCA Pet Health Insurance. And there's usually a deductible—either per year or per incident," which means you cover that cost each time you file a claim," says Watson. As with health insurance for humans, the higher your monthly premium, the lower your deductible.

A Plan Could Save A Bunch

With most pet plans, you front the money and get paid back when your pet's health takes a turn. (Refunds are based on a percentage of the bill or the national average fee for the treatment.) "My dog had cancer, and her treatment totaled $14,000 in one year," says Jodi Andersen, chief dog expert at How I Met My Dog, a site that matches shelter dogs and owners. "Insurance reimbursed me for 90 percent of that. It can help you avoid being in a situation where you have to choose between your pet and your budget."

There Are Different Types Of Plans

There are illness plans (if your dog gets sick), wellness plans (for checkups), accident plans (if your dog gets hit by a car), and combinations of the three. "Some pet policies don't cover well-care visits," Andersen points out. If you have a healthy dog, your best bet is probably the lower-premium, higher-deductible plan—but don't take our word for it. "When it comes to pet health insurance, do your homework and research the offerings," says Watson. "Check out the policies so you can make an educated decision."

And Now For The Fine Print

There usually aren't in-network providers versus out-of-network ones, so you can take your pet to any licensed veterinarian. But preexisting conditions are not typically covered (which is why Watson suggests purchasing pet insurance while your fur babe is still young and healthy), and neither are certain hereditary conditions. Talk to your veterinarian about whether pet insurance is right for you. As with all things, prepare for the worst, hope for the best, and enjoy every furry snuggle.