Expecting the unexpected with pets is a good mindset to get into. You never know when they are going to fall ill or be involved in an accident. There are different ways of dealing with veterinary bills and understanding your different options is important. 

Pet insurance

Pet insurance includes paying a monthly fee throughout the time period you expect your pet insurance to pay out. We recommend doing this for the entirety of your pet’s life. There are many different companies that offer pet insurance. And you may be able to use comparison sites to find the best deal. Often, pairing up different items into one insurance deal can give you a cheaper quote. 

Your premium will probably increase as your pet gets older

This is true of most policies, unless you get a fixed rate for life whilst your puppy or kitten is still young. This increase is due to the likelihood of pets getting ill and requiring veterinary attention increases as they get older. In return for paying your monthly fee, your insurance company should pay out for veterinary treatment, as long as the condition and disease is covered within your policy and does not break any of the terms and conditions. 

Insurance can be better in complicated or ongoing cases

This is because insurance companies will only increase your premium at the end of a year, so these large financial outputs will only cause a small increase in your monthly payment. You were already expecting to be paying a fee so the change shouldn’t cause too much disturbance to your bank balance. 

Although, remember, many insurance policies will have a maximum limit on how many conditions can be claimed for within a year

Some insurance policies will only allow you to claim for a condition once. This is why it is particularly important that you read and completely understand the terms and conditions of your agreement. You will also have to pay the excess on each condition. So opting for an insurance policy with a small excess is a sensible idea.

Payment plans

Payment plans involve paying for treatment in monthly instalments. Not all practices offer payment plans, so be sure to check this is something your practice offers prior to opting to have any procedures performed with them. You could call up different practices to see which practices offer the best payment plans. Different plans based on your circumstances will be offered to you.

First things first: Communicate!

Make sure you have discussed payment plans with your veterinary practice and know which plan you are going to opt for PRIOR to moving forward with any treatments. In addition to this, make sure you can afford the payment plan. Payment plans often come with interest. So you will be paying back more than you borrow in return for having extra time to pay. The longer you take to pay off this debt, the more money in total you will end up paying. 

Be sure you have read the terms and conditions carefully as you may be fined if you do not submit a payment on time. Check if the interest rates vary as the time increases.

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On the plus side, there is no monthly fee

So, payment plans will only be in place once your pet has received veterinary care. This means if your pet only needs veterinary attention once in their life, it may be cheaper. The problem is that you never know how often they are going to get ill or need veterinary care. If they need more veterinary attention, hospitalisation or referral, will you be able to afford multiple payment plans on top of your other regular outgoings you have, such as mortgage or rent, bills, subscriptions etc? Payment plans often come as more of a shock to your financial position than insurance, because insurance is a regular planned payment, built into your budgeting for the month. 

Factors that commonly increase the likelihood of pets becoming ill

If your pet develops a chronic illness or has multiple risk factors, then insurance is likely to be the better option. The unfortunate issue is that most insurance companies will not pay out for conditions your pet already had prior to starting the insurance policy. This means you need to choose whether you will use insurance, payment plans or pay for the veterinary care outright before your pet has become ill. Below are some factors that will increase the likelihood of your pet becoming ill.

  • Age – the older your pet is, the more likely they are to develop chronic diseases.
  • Breed – purebred pets have been shown to develop more diseases than crossbred animals.
  • Long term illnesses – if your pet has already been diagnosed with a lifelong illness, they are more likely to get secondary disease as the long-term illness deteriorates or as side effects from medication. 
  • Obesity – obese animals are much more likely to suffer from disease than animals with an optimum body condition score. 

To conclude

Both insurance and payment plans are suitable methods for paying off large veterinary bills. Each option will work if you have done the correct background research prior and know what to expect. Because pets are all individuals and their health is somewhat unpredictable, it is impossible to say which option will be cheapest in the long run – there are too many uncontrollable factors that will dictate this such as interest fees, additional illnesses and the time it takes to cure them. Do your research and give yourself time to make this decision prior to your pet getting ill.

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