Consumer Report: Is pet insurance worth it?

Guess what’s one of the fastest-growing employee benefits? Insurance for cats and dogs! One in three Fortune 500 companies now offer pet insurance. They include Chipotle, Delta Airlines, T-Mobile, UPS and Microsoft, according to one of the leading providers, VPI. But what if your workplace doesn’t offer pet insurance? Should you buy it on your own?

Consumer Reports says pet insurance can really pay off, if you have a young animal that ends up with a serious illness or injury. But if your pet is older, it can cost more and the coverage can be less comprehensive, so it may not be worth it.

Premiums vary widely and depend on the coverage you choose, the age of your pet and the breed. The average premiums start at $16 per month for a cat and $22 per month for a dog. Dogs cost more to insure than cats because their medical treatment tends to be more expensive. And purebreds cost more because they’re susceptible to some hereditary conditions.

There are a wide variety of providers, including ASPCA, Healthy Paws, PetFirst, Petplan, Trupanion and VPI. Most cover cats and dogs, but a few also insure birds and other animals.

If you’re considering a policy for your pet, Consumer Reports says start by reviewing plans online. You should be able to get a free quote, which will allow you to compare cost versus coverage. And check how premiums might increase as your pet ages.

If the idea of paying for pet insurance doesn’t appeal to you, Consumer Reports suggests you consider setting up a dedicated savings account and putting aside a fixed amount of money every month, so you have a reserve for unanticipated health care costs.

Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website. Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org.

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