When your pet isn't feeling well, the last thing you want to worry about is money. But is pet insurance worth it?
Brian Vines at Consumer Reports said it's hard to do an apples-to-apples comparison of pet insurance providers because the rates and plans vary widely.
"Pet insurance is largely a la carte, where you can go with a base sort of coverage or something like an accident only plan, but there's also plans that cover dental insurance or preventative care," he said. "So, it really is a highly individualized sort of product that you're shopping for."
Most pet insurance companies let you keep the vet you already go to instead of being confined to a list of in-network doctors, Vines said.
When determining whether pet insurance is right for you, Vines said to ask yourself what you want out of the insurance.
"If you're looking for return on investment, it may not be the best thing for you because people fairly well break even," he said. "But if you like that peace of mind that knowing that you've put money away or there's someone behind you in case something catastrophic or just bad does happen to your pet, it may be a worthwhile investment for your peace of mind."
Vines explained pre-existing conditions often exclude pets from getting coverage. If your pet is older or has health issues already, insurance might not be right for you.
There are alternatives to pet insurance such as self-insuring by putting aside money in a designated savings account or taking your pet to a veterinary school, where you can get a discount on care. Another option is telehealth.
"I personally used telehealth when my cat got into a cat fight, had a little puncture wound that we didn't know what it was," Vines said. "So for $25, we were able to give it five days of unlimited access to veterinary care. We teleconferenced with the vet tech who diagnosed, told us how to wash the wound and was also able to prescribe some antibiotics for us."
When it comes to pet insurance, there isn't one right answer, Vines explained. Pet owners should do their research and decide what is best for them and their furry loved one.