At a Glance
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Is Pet Insurance Worth it?
For the majority of pet owners, the quick answer is yes. Liberty Mutual Insurance surveyed pet parents across the country and found that nearly two-thirds of respondents could not afford an unexpected medical bill for their pet.
With this in mind, it’s safe to say that pet insurance is worth it for most owners. Not only does it protect you and your family from finding yourself in financial trouble should the worst happen, but it also provides peace of mind knowing you can make the best medical choices for your precious Yorkie in the face of an emergency.
Common Health Issues in Yorkies
All dogs are different, and this list is by no means exhaustive. But it gives you an idea about what to look for when reviewing insurance policies and who covers these conditions. Plus, it provides an overview of what type of costs are involved. Let’s take a look.
Patella luxation is a painful condition when the kneecap does not sit properly, essentially becoming dislocated. In severe cases, surgery is the only option to improve the quality of your dog’s life. The average cost of surgery to fix this issue is between $1,500 and $3,000 per knee. Bear in mind that this does not include the cost of diagnosis, pre-surgery bloodwork, and complications. Some Yorkies get this condition in both knees, making it a bilateral concern.
Like many dog breeds, the Yorkie is prone to several eye conditions. The three most common concerns are cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and corneal dystrophy. Although you can treat many other eye concerns early with better hygiene and medication such as eye drops, surgery is often needed for these three conditions.
The average cost of a simple eye exam accompanied by a course of antibiotic drops is approximately $100. Depending on your circumstances, it might not be in your best interest to claim a low cost like this as it is likely to increase your premiums. But if your Yorkie requires surgery, for example, to remove cataracts, the average price falls anywhere between $2,600 and $3,800. So, eye surgery is something most Yorkie parents want to look for in an insurance policy.
Portosystemic shunt sometimes referred to as liver shunt, is a congenital condition that affects the liver. An abnormal blood vessel (known as a shunt) prevents the liver from removing the toxins by completely bypassing it, which can be fatal. In many cases, surgery is required to immediately treat the disease rather than addressing the condition with regular medication.
The cost of surgery to clamp a single and straightforward shunt (there can be multiple and more complicated shunts) can cost between $2,000 and $3,000. Depending on how complex your Yorkie’s condition is, surgery can cost well above $10,000. Diagnosis for portosystemic shunt can happen as early as six months of age. Therefore it’s advised to get your policy in place before your dog shows any symptoms. Once diagnosed, it becomes a pre-existing condition that will not be covered by most companies.
Small dogs are more likely to suffer from dental diseases compared to larger dogs. Their teeth are cramped into their small mouths, leading to gum disease and more decay. It would be best if you established a dental cleaning routine to prevent dental diseases. Still, many Yorkies suffer from teeth problems, especially in their later years, leading to tooth loss. Dental cleaning toys may prove helpful as well.
The cost of dental cleaning ranges from $300 to $700, depending on the size and condition of your dog’s teeth. The price for tooth extraction or further treatment, if needed, adds to that bill. Although this might seem like an unnecessary bill, regular cleanings keep dental costs down in the long run (and make breath fresher too!)
Collapsed trachea is the progressive weakening of the tracheal cartilage, also known as the windpipe. It is more commonly diagnosed in small middle-aged dogs, and the Yorkie is one of the most affected breeds. However, many dogs can improve their condition with medication and fundamental lifestyle changes, such as using a high-quality harness rather than a neck lead.
But in severe cases, more extreme and costly intervention is needed. The cost of diagnostics alone for collapsed trachea can range from $500 to $2,000. Adding the surgery to strengthen the windpipe can add $2,000 to $5,000 to the bill. In some cases, dogs still need medication to manage the issue.
Considerations When Choosing an Insurer
Although the choice is ideal for tailoring your insurance to your needs, it can make your decision much harder. Here we take you through what you need to consider when choosing the best insurance policy for your Yorkie.
Enrollment Rules & Waiting Periods
All pet insurance companies offer lifelong coverage for as long as you carry active coverage (pay your bills) with them. However, some insurers have rules about the age of your dog at enrollment for a new policy. Some companies only insure puppies after 8 weeks of age, whereas some cap the age at 14 for older dogs looking to start a new policy. So be sure to check out the enrollment rules.
Most companies also have a “waiting period.” This protects the company by stopping owners from only taking out insurance when they need it. The waiting period is the minimum amount of time you have to wait before diagnosis and filing a claim. For accidents, coverage usually kicks in within a few days. But the waiting period is often extended for illnesses and can vary depending on the disease. Different companies have different rules, so this is another stipulation to check out.
Types of Coverage & Premiums
The three main types of coverage are:
- Accident-only – This type of coverage only covers accidents, including poisoning, being struck by a vehicle, or the ingestion of foreign objects, to name a few instances.
- Accident and Illness – Coverage for accidents and most illnesses, except for pre-existing conditions. This is the most popular coverage option as it protects pet owners from the most unexpected medical expenses.
- Accident, Illness, and Wellness – Often the most expensive plan because it covers all of the above and preventative care expenses too. This extra coverage is commonly referred to as a “wellness plan.” Preventive care often includes routine vet checkups, vaccinations, parasite prevention, dental cleanings, and more.
To pick the best level of coverage, you need to think about what you and your Yorkie needs. Most companies offer the three policy types above, and many offer several different levels of each. For example, a company might provide three accident and wellness option categories: silver, gold, and platinum. It’s essential to read the fine print to make sure you understand what you are signing up for in the contract. All companies and policies have different rules, exclusions, waiting periods, and limits.
When insurance companies talk about premiums, this refers to the cost you pay to keep your coverage active. Most companies give you the option of paying monthly or annually. According to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA), the average U.S. monthly premium for an accident and illness policy in 2020 was $49.51. This expense is much more manageable for the average family than being faced with a huge, unexpected bill.
Deductibles & Claim Limits
The term “deductible” refers to the amount you pay out of pocket before the company starts covering you for reimbursement of claims made. Depending on your policy, the deductible is paid annually or per incident. Generally, the higher your premium is, the lower your deductible. But this is not always the case.
When picking a policy, limits are one of the most important factors to consider. There are various ways that an insurer caps the amount they reimburse you. For example, this could be by the incident, by calendar year, or for the lifespan of your pet. If you select a lifespan claim limit, the premium is likely to be higher. But in some cases, it is worth it.
Exclusions are the list of conditions and scenarios which are not included in the coverage. This is another crucial aspect of your insurance policy to check. For example, suppose a policy excludes portosystemic shunt or patella luxation. In those cases, it might not be the best choice for your Yorkie. We are not aware of any insurer not covering the primary conditions affecting a Yorkie, but policies can change over time. So, you should always read the small print to ensure they cover what matters most for you. You can find the exclusions in the policy documents.
Who Offers the Optimal Fit for your Yorkie?
Here we review some companies that offer the best pet insurance for you and your Yorkie to consider.
Best Overall Pet Insurance
- Premium reduces by $50 per year if no claims are made
- Covers curable pre-existing conditions, dependent on the evaluation
- Exam fees included in all policies
- Offers coverage for behavioral therapy and training
- Dental treatment included
After considering all of the Yorkie’s health concerns and what they are likely to need from their coverage, we have selected Embrace as the best overall pet insurance for Yorkies. They cover hereditary conditions that are relatively common issues in the breed, including patella luxation and portosystemic shunt. They may also cover some curable pre-existing conditions, depending on the findings in a vet evaluation.
Additionally, Embrace is one of the few companies to include up to $1,000 of dental illness treatment per year in their accident and illness plan (but not cleanings). This is crucial for most Yorkies and their compact mouths that are more susceptible to periodontal disease. Here is the language from their policy:
We will reimburse you for eligible veterinary treatment expenses caused by dental illness in excess of the deductible amount, subject to co-payment requirements and a $1,000 annual maximum sub-limit, for all treatment(s) except dental prophylaxis, for conditions that started after the waiting period and during the policy period.
As an added financial incentive, Embrace offers a diminishing deductible for long-term customers. When you have no claims in a year, your annual deductible decreases by $50 for each year you don’t file a reimbursable claim. Unlimited access to vet support whenever you need it can add reassurance, especially for new dog owners. Altogether, this benefit package makes Embrace a top choice for Yorkshire Terriers.
Best for Older Dogs
Best for Bilateral Conditions (including Patella Luxation)
- One of the only companies with no bilateral exclusions
- Claims can be paid in less than 5 minutes via Trupanion Express
- 90% reimbursement and unlimited payouts for all plans
- Offers enrollment from birth
- Excellent value for money
- Offers options for 100% reimbursement and unlimited annual payouts
- Diminishing deductible decreases by $50 each year the policyholder is claim-free until it’s $0
- Coverage includes age and weight-related concerns and hereditary and chronic conditions
How to Save Money
Some Yorkie owners can save money on their insurance policy depending on their circumstances and entitlements. Here are some of the ways:
Increase the Deductible
By increasing the amount of money you are responsible for (aka the deductible), you can often reduce your premium. However, if you do this, you should be prepared to pay the higher deductible if and when you make a claim.
Insurance companies usually offer two ways of paying your coverage premium: monthly or annually. If you pay monthly, many companies charge a “transaction fee.” So, a good way to save money is to pay the yearly fee upfront if your financial situation allows.
If you own several pets, some insurance companies offer a multi-pet discount when you take out multiple policies with them. It’s essential to make sure that each pet has coverage that suits them as individuals. Depending on the company, you may save up to 10% discount when you meet their multi-pet criteria.
Embrace’s Diminishing Deductible
If you decide to go with our top pick for Yorkies, Embrace, they offer a unique way to save money over the long term. For each year you have an active policy with them but don’t file a claim, they will decrease your deductible by $50. So if you signed up for a policy that has a $250 deductible when your pet is one year old and doesn’t have any claims for the next three years, your deductible in year four would be $100 for that year.
Investing in an insurance policy for your Yorkie is worth it for most families, especially when you consider the unexpected costs you might face if your pup becomes unwell or injured. As you can see from the high prices of treatments and surgeries, the costs are still huge, even for a tiny pup.
Before you sign on the dotted line for any insurance policy, the most crucial step is to read the whole thing, even the small print. This is where you find limits, exclusions, waiting periods, as well as payment details, and more. Every Yorkie and its parent are different, so be sure to pick the best option for your unique needs. If you are unsure about anything, speak to your vet or call the insurance company, both should be happy to talk through the best options to meet your situation.