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Are you and your pet ready for the unexpected?

Author: Christine Calvert, DVM



Are you and your pet ready for the unexpected?

By Christine Calvert, DVM

Chief of Staff Veterinarian Owner, Calvert Veterinary Center



It is a well known fact that pets keep humans healthier. Pets are part of the family in most households which means they sleep in our beds, sit on our couches and get lots of love and attention. There are many benefits to owning a pet, a few examples include medical, emotional, and psychological. Many of us can relate to our pets staying by our side when we or a loved one were recuperating from an illness or injury. But what if your pet became seriously ill or had a life threatening injury? Would you be able to take care of your pet like they take care of you when you are ill?

Advanced medical care and improved technology are available for pets allowing your veterinarian to provide better treatment, however that can in some situations present a higher price tag too. For instance, surgery for a ruptured disk in the back can cost between $5000-7000, cruciate ligament surgery is often $4000-5000 per knee, chemotherapy treatments for cancer can exceed $10,000 to $20,000 for a course of treatment. Most families are not prepared to take on this type of expense without additional help.

Pet insurance could be the answer to keeping your pets healthy when the unexpected happens. There are many benefits of pet insurance plans:

● Pet insurance allows you to pick your veterinarian. Unlike human health insurance policies that may require you to use a specific health care provider, pet insurance policies allow you to obtain care from the veterinarian of your choice. You simply provide the veterinary bill to the insurance company for reimbursement of qualified expenses. In addition to care at your primary veterinarian, pet insurance can be used for specialist and emergency room visits.

● Pet insurance does not discriminate against any breed or age of pet. While it is advisable to obtain pet insurance as soon as you adopt or acquire your pet to obtain lower premiums, you can also insure your pet years later.

● Pet insurance delivers peace of mind. Having pet insurance allows you to choose treatments for your ailing or injured pet based on the best medical option available and not worry about being restricted based on family finances. Most pet insurance policies reimburse up to 80-90% of costs.

● Pet insurance provides an easy way to budget pet care costs. Pet insurance policies can be paid monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually. You decide which payment plan works best for you. Most plans even offer discounts for additional pets in the household. Also, many companies now offer pet insurance as an additional benefit to their employees.

● Pet insurance prevents dipping into the family’s emergency fund. True, you can set up a pet savings account, but it can be tough to discipline one’s self from dipping into this designated account when you face pricey car repairs, household renovations or other major unexpected expenses.


Perhaps the greatest advantage to pet insurance coverage is that it can save—and extend—the life of your pet by enabling you to authorize the medical treatment your pet needs should they develop a serious illness or require surgery.

It is very important to understand the difference between Pet Insurance and a Wellness Plan that may be offered through other veterinary facilities. The major differences are in initial cost, predictability of expenses and selection of veterinary services and your veterinarian to provide the services. Below is a select view of Advantages and disadvantages of both.


Pet Insurance:

Advantage: Can help pet owners budget costs for wellness care and additional care related to injury or illness

Can be used at any veterinary facility including your primary veterinarian, specialists (internal medicine services, cardiology, specialty surgery), and emergency, after hours care facilities.

Depending on the plan purchased, pet insurance can cover wellness visits and injury or illnesses. Many plans cover 80-90% of the costs for your veterinarian’s services for preventative care as well as if your pet is sick or injured. However, there are plans available with lower monthly premiums that can limit coverage to only unexpected costs if your pet is sick or injured (similar to a major medical plan in humans).

Allows pet owners to make the best medical decisions for their pets based on the best medical and surgical practices without having to make the decision based on finances alone.


Disadvantage: Pet owners pay for veterinary services at the time of the visit and the pet insurance will reimburse pet owners. Often the reimbursement only takes 10-14 days which is typically before that credit card bill is due!

Some insurance plans have a deductible to meet so look for plans without that requirement.

Pre-existing conditions may not be covered so it is important to get a plan early in your pet’s life, prior to having any health concerns. Look for plans that will provide coverage for chronic conditions if they are found after your pet has pet insurance in place.


Wellness Plans

Advantage: Can help pet owners budget costs of wellness care.

Disadvantage: Can only be used at the primary veterinarian and do not cover emergency or specialist veterinary care. 

Wellness Plans only cover well check ups, vaccines, and some preventative care. The plans do not cover care related to an injury or illness (for example: skin or ear infection, limping, vomiting, diarrhea, etc.)

Require initiation fees and can sometimes be difficult to cancel if you are not satisfied with your coverage


There are many companies that offer pet insurance and most offer various plans within their company. We have experience with several different plans and companies and can help you choose the right pet insurance plan for you and your pet(s). So don’t leave Fido and Fluffy out when you are providing protection for your family. Call Calvert Veterinary Center 410-360-7297 or email for more information on how to protect your four legged family member.



Dr. Calvert is the owner and Chief of Staff at Calvert Veterinary Center, and is in her 19th year of practicing veterinary medicine.

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