Go beyond the pet deposit and learn if requiring pet insurance is worth it
Article Contributed by Rent Spree
Disclaimer: This article is not legal advice. Any legal information is not the same as legal advice, where an attorney applies the law to your specific circumstances, so you should consult an attorney if you would like advice on your interpretation of this information or its accuracy. You may not rely on this article as legal advice, nor as an endorsement of any particular legal understanding.
America is a country of pet lovers; more than 100 million households have either a dog or cat and millions more have birds, fish, and other small mammals and reptiles. That translates into a $19 billion veterinary care market each year for everything from wellness visits to emergency services for US pets. To increase affordability and facilitate proper veterinary care, pet insurance policies have become more and more prevalent in recent decades, with a growing number of insurers offering various levels of coverage to meet the needs of pet owners.
What is pet insurance and how much does it cost? Is pet insurance worth it? How can one determine which pet insurance company and policy is right for their pet? As a property manager or landlord, should you require tenants to carry pet insurance or is renter’s insurance sufficient to protect you and the property owner in the event of pet-related damage or liability?
What is Pet Insurance? Pet insurance came about as an outgrowth of the livestock and agricultural industry. For much of the twentieth century, it was limited to policies for celebrity pets or those that in some way generated revenue. During the twenty-first century, it has become a more and more common way of making veterinary care more affordable and protecting pets and their owners, thus making pet insurance worth it to pet owners.
Pet insurance covers a range of medical and behavioral issues, depending on the type of coverage chosen and the individual policy limits. Pet insurance generally will not cover pre-existing medical conditions but will cover medical care and treatments for a variety of accidents, illnesses, congenital conditions, and behavioral problems. In addition, pet insurance policies offer a selection of add-ons for even more protection.
Who Are the Major Pet Insurance Carriers? There are a number of different insurers who offer pet insurance coverage. These include:
- Pet Assure: Pet Assure is a discount plan that offers instant enrollment and savings on a variety of veterinary treatments.
- PetFirst: PetFirst offers a variety of price points and packages to fit any budget.
- USAA: Available only to members of the military and their immediate family members, USAA offers discounted coverage through Embrace.
- Embrace: Embrace offers coverage for accidents and illness with add-ons for wellness services.
- ASPCA: ASPCA offers discounts for each pet covered, so it’s a great option for multi-pet households.
- Geico: Geico offers pet coverage which can be bundled with other coverage options in order to take advantage of discounted rates.
- Nationwide: Nationwide offers both wellness and treatment insurance as well as exotic animal insurance.
- Hartville: Hartville covers pets of any age, so it is a popular choice for pet owners with older animals.
- 24PetWatch: Coverage includes accident and illness protection as well as pet safety coverage, including lost pet recovery services.
- Figo: Figo covers alternative treatments like chiropractic services and acupuncture.
What to Think About While Answering the Question is Pet Insurance Worth It? Pet insurance is not a one-size-fits-all financial product. There are a variety of things to consider when choosing the right pet insurance plan.
- Age of the Pet: An older pet’s coverage may be more expensive or may be more difficult to obtain in the first place. It may be easier and more affordable to find accident coverage for older pets rather than a more comprehensive illness and accident policy.
- Pre-Existing Conditions: Most policies do not cover pre-existing conditions, though some may cover pre-existing conditions that are considered treatable and/or curable.
- Breed of the Pet: Coverage may be more expensive for purebred dogs with known risk factors or for those breeds that are considered dangerous. These may include, but are not limited to:
- Pit Bulls and Staffordshire Terriers
- Doberman Pinschers
- Great Danes
- Presa Canarios
- Alaskan Malamutes
- German Shepherds
- Saint Bernards
- Siberian Huskies
- Or a mix of any of the above of pets
Some carriers may offer reduced rates for multiple-pet households.
- Lifestyle of the Pet: Indoor pets that are well-cared for and kept away from other animals may be eligible for lower rates than active outdoor pets or those living on a farm or ranch. This is because they are less likely to be exposed to illness or to experience injuries requiring medical care.
- Type of Pet: Most pet insurance is geared toward dogs and cats, but there are specialty policies available for birds and other exotic animals.
- Other Insurance Coverage: Some insurance carriers offer bundled discounts, so obtaining pet insurance through the same company that provides auto and renters insurance policies may result in significant premium reductions.
What is Pet Liability Insurance and Do You Need It? Pet liability coverage provides financial protection for damage or injury caused by a pet. Liability coverage up to the policy limit may be included in a standard renters’ policy, including coverage for legal expenses, medical expenses, and damage repair or replacement. Coverage may also cover veterinary care in the event that the policy holder’s pet injures another animal.
While many insurance companies consider dangerous breeds to be primarily larger, more confrontational animals, many smaller breeds are prone to biting or to territorial behavior. In some cases, your tenant’s ill-tempered chihuahua may be more of a liability than a well-socialized, well-trained so-called aggressive breed.
What is the Difference Between Coverage Obtained Through Renters Insurance and Pet Insurance? The primary difference between renters’ insurance and pet insurance is the illness, wellness, and accident coverage that pet insurance provides. While liability coverage may be available through an add-on to a pet insurance policy, the policy is primarily focused on providing care for the pet. By contrast, pet-related coverage on a renters insurance policy is primarily focused on liability protection for the policyholder and, by extension, for the property owner.
Is Pet Insurance Worth It For Exotic Pets? Most pet insurance only covers the care of dogs and cats. Nationwide is one of the few insurance carriers that offers protection for birds and exotic pets including reptiles, amphibians, and small mammals. Their coverage pays up to 90% of covered treatment, including some preventive care.
You may think of exotic pets as less prone to cause damage than dogs and cats. However, a poorly cleaned cage or improperly maintained habitat may cause significant damage, including that resulting from excessive moisture or foul odors. In addition, some small pets eat a diet of live insects, which could cause an infestation. Find out what your property insurance covers and what your tenants’ renters and/or pet insurance covers to find out if you are fully protected.
Should You Require Pet Insurance? As a property owner, your primary concern will be focused on the condition of your property. While renters’ insurance may take care of the tenant’s liability with regard to property damage or injury to others, pet insurance can offer more comprehensive protection. Imagine the potential damage caused by an animal’s illness or behavioral problem. These could include:
- Damage to carpet and flooring from frequent “accidents” caused by an untreated urinary tract infection
- Damage to doors and windows caused by excessive pawing or chewing due to untreated separation anxiety
- Damage to door and window screens or to a screened porch or lanai caused by an animal’ clawing
- Damage to walls and woodwork caused by an animal jumping and pawing at walls and cabinets.
Now multiply that damage by month after month of going untreated because the owner cannot afford proper veterinary care. Comprehensive pet insurance can offer greater peace of mind to tenants and to their landlords and property owners.
Why Should You Rent to Tenants With Pets? Some property owners prefer to rent to tenants without pets in order to avoid the potential for damage and liability caused by pets on the property. However, there are a variety of reasons why renting to pet owners may be a good idea for your bottom line.
There Are More Pet-Owning Renters: According to a survey conducted by Apartments.com, more than 90% of renters currently have a pet or plan to become a pet owner. Indeed, in many markets, you’ll find far more pet owners than non-pet owners across the board. By renting to pet owners, you’ll increase your potential pool of tenants and keep your rental properties filled.
Pet-Owning Renters May Be More Responsible: In general, people with pets tend to be more settled and more financially responsible than those without. They may be more inclined to be responsible in other areas of their life, as well, including on-time rent payment and property care and maintenance.
Increased Tenant Retention: Pet owners tend to feel that what’s good for their pet is good for them, as well. Once they are settled, they may be reluctant to cause upheaval by moving again in twelve months. In order to avoid the search for another pet-friendly property, they may be more inclined to stay put. This saves the property owner money in marketing costs and turning over the property.
Renting to Pet Owners Increases Revenue: In many markets, pet-friendly properties are at a premium so you may be able to charge more in rent each month. In addition, many property managers charge more for pets either in the form of monthly pet rental fees or up-front pet deposits. All of these charges add to your bottom line.
How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost? Pet insurance costs can range from $10 to more than $100 monthly, with most premiums priced at between $30 and $50. Prices can be based on a variety of factors and are often cheaper for cat owners than dog owners.
In General, Is Pet Insurance Worth It? Depending on the coverage, the answer may well be yes. Policies that cover wellness care can be especially helpful in offsetting the cost of veterinary checkups and preventive treatments. In the event of an accident, pet insurance coverage can literally be the difference between life and death, since even a minor injury may result in thousands of dollars in medical care that the tenant may be unable to afford.
Whether you choose to require pet insurance or not, you should consider requiring renters’ insurance. The reasons why are simple. Renters insurance limits the liability of the landlord or property owner in case of an injury in the home. A guest who is visiting your tenant and is bitten by their dog while onsite can seek compensation from the property owner. Renters insurance is the first line of defense in any subsequent legal proceedings, helping to protect the owner from liability and court costs.
Renters insurance can offer protection in the event that the tenant’s dog goes next door and damages the neighbor’s property. This helps to offer you protection against subsequent claims and ensures that your tenant does not experience financial loss which might impede their ability to pay rent or cause them to vacate the property before the end of the lease. As a property manager or rental agent, it is important for you to ensure that renters’ insurance is being paid and renewed on a regular basis. You may have to ask your renter to provide proof of insurance from their carrier regularly. They can request the needed documentation either online or by phone.
By partnering with Sure, RentSpree provides a fast and efficient process for obtaining renters insurance that landlords and property managers can share with their tenants. Your tenants will find on-demand quotes and easy sign-up for renters insurance policies. Subsequently, you can check for ongoing policy coverage right from the RentSpree dashboard, ensuring maximum convenience and reliability for you and your staff.
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