Have pets? Here are alternatives to pet insurance for saving money

We treat our pets like family members, spending billions of dollars a year on veterinary bills a year.

But before you sign up for a pet insurance policy, Consumer Reports says there may be better ways to save money on medical care for Fido and Fluffy.

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Paulina Vargas has had pet insurance on previous pets. But now, with her dogs, Nigel and Bella, she decided to skip it.

“It makes more sense for us not to be paying monthly fees for the pet insurance,” she said. “We decided it’s the best option for us to just pay it out of pocket.”

A survey by Consumer Reports revealed pet owners are pretty unhappy with pet insurance coverage.

“In the survey, over 2,000 members shared their experience with pet insurance, covering everything from what’s actually covered to the premiums they paid and the claims process for getting reimbursed. And overall, there was no real top dog. Most of the results found that the insurance companies were all pretty middle of the pack,” said Consumer Reports’ Brian Vines.

Consumer Reports looked at survey data on eight pet insurance providers. On average, the total cost was around $47 per month per pet. That does not include deductibles or copays.

Six insurance providers earned a midrange overall satisfaction score. Those were PetsBest, embrace, trupanion, ASPSCA, and Nationwide.

Two, Fetch and Banfield, earned unfavorable ratings.

So what can you do to save? Vines suggests putting what you would spend on the insurance premium into a dedicated savings account.

“Self-insure by putting away money every month into a direct deposit high-yield savings account that you can draw from should your fur baby need some medical assistance,” Vines said.

If you’re struggling to afford medical care for your pet, consider a trip to a veterinary college that may offer discounts on everything from checkups to spaying and neutering.

And if your pet needs medicine, shop around. Ordering medications online from places like Chewy, Petco, PetMeds, and Walmart Pet Pharmacy can be cheaper.

Consumer Reports says you can also try telehealth vet services like Bond Vet and Pawp for non-emergency care.

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