Consumer Reports: Should you buy pet insurance?

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Is pet insurance worth the money? Consumer Reports has the details. (WPVI)

What happens when your precious pet gets sick? Vet bills can add up to hundreds, even thousands of dollars, so with that in mind, many people consider pet insurance.

But is it worth the money?

One of the fastest-growing employee benefits is pet insurance.

One third of Fortune 500 companies now offer it. According to a leading pet insurer - they include Chipotle, Delta Airlines, T-Mobile, UPS and Microsoft.

But what if your workplace doesn't offer pet insurance? Consumer Reports looks at the pros and cons of buying it on your own.

When Samantha Boege's 4-year-old Newfoundland needed surgery to repair a torn ligament, she ended up with more than $5,000 dollars in medical bills.

"We are going to spend the money on surgery because she's a part of our family and we love her. But knowing what we know now, we are probably going to consider pet insurance," said Boege.

Had she bought a policy when she got the dog, it probably would have paid for itself. But Consumer Reports found deciding whether or not to buy pet insurance can be a tough call.

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

Premiums vary widely and depend on the coverage you choose, the age of your pet and the breed.

The average premiums start at $16 dollars per month for a cat and $22 dollars 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," said Walker.

If you're considering a policy for your pet, start by reviewing plans online and get free quotes and compare cost versus coverage.

Also be sure to check how premiums might increase as your pet ages and whether the insurance covers pre-existing conditions.

If you're disciplined, instead of pet insurance, you could set up a dedicated savings account for unanticipated vet bills - putting aside a fixed amount of money every month so you have a reserve when you need it.

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petsinsurancepet healthpetconsumer reportsconsumer
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