According to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association, there are 179 million pets in North America that create an estimated $58.5 billion in annual spending. Vet care is the third largest expenditure in the category, costing pet owners about $15.25 billion per year.

Americans have taken notice of the rising cost of veterinary care. More than one million pets are now covered under a pet insurance policy at a collective cost of $595 million. It's a relatively new industry: It wasn’t until that famed canine, Lassie, first received a pet insurance policy in 1982 that pet insurance became a formalized option. Since 2009 the industry has grown an average of 13.2% annually;  from 2012 to 2013 there was a 14.6% increase in active policies.

It’s Not Like Human Health Insurance
You love your pet like a member of the family but the insurance industry sees Fido or Fluffy more as property. That’s why pet insurance functions more like property insurance than health insurance. But before you remind somebody that your pet isn’t a piece of property, this designation works in your favor. Reading and understanding the policy is a cakewalk compared to health insurance policies written for humans. Consider these advantages:

1. You can choose your vet. As long as the vet is licensed, pet insurers won’t tell you whom you can and can’t see. There are no in- or out-of-network doctors like those your own health insurance policy probably dictates.

2. Simple policies. Most companies have a small number of tiers to choose from. One may cover only accidents, another may cover accidents and illnesses, and a third provides more coverage for more conditions.

3. Premiums are relatively cheap. The average monthly cost for a dog with the lowest tier policy was less than $14 per month. The top plan averages $98 monthly. Of course, cost depends on a host of variables including breed and age of the animal, where you live, and the options you choose as part of your policy. Cats are even cheaper.
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