How Patients with Lasting Symptoms of COVID Can Apply for Disability

COVID survivors who are unable to work because of lasting effects from the virus should consider applying for disability benefits, though this can be a difficult road, says Barbara Comerford, founder of the Law Offices of Barbara B. Comerford in Paramus, N.J.

Social Security disability insurance is one option. To qualify for it, generally you must have earned 40 credits during your working years, 20 in the last decade before you became disabled, though younger workers may qualify with fewer credits. In 2021, workers earn one credit for every $1,470 in wages, or a maximum of four credits after $5,880.

You must also meet the definition of disabled. That means you are unable to continue working at your job, you can’t switch to a different position because of your condition, and the disability is expected to last for at least a year. Comerford, who has represented clients that have applied for disability because of long COVID, says the Social Security Administration has been more willing to pay out benefits, especially for older workers who are close to full retirement age.

To determine your disability payment, Social Security uses a formula similar to the one for calculating retirement benefits. It’s based on your average monthly income from the age of 21 until you become disabled and factors in up to 35 years of earnings. (The formula for retirement benefits is based on your 35 highest earning years.) Once you reach your full retirement age, your disability benefit changes to a retirement benefit that continues to pay out at the same amount. Taking disability does not reduce your retirement benefit.

If you have long-term disability insurance through an employer or a plan you purchased and can show that you became disabled before a certain age, these policies will pay a percentage of your salary annually until a specified end date, typically your full retirement age for Social Security. In general, once you notify your employer that you will apply for short-term disability benefits, which you may do after taking sick leave for seven days, you can request and submit the forms to the disability insurer. If your claim is approved, you will be paid the benefit for 26 weeks. After that, you will need to apply for long-term disability if you are still unwell.

Getting insurance companies and some self-insured employers to pay out these claims can be difficult — even more so for COVID-19 patients, Comerford says. Insurers are “being harder on long COVID cases because so much is unknown and a lot of physicians don’t know enough about the disease,” Comerford says. Finding a doctor experienced in treating COVID patients is important for documenting your condition.


Take These 4 Steps to Lower Your Cost of Living — Without Moving

If you’re determined to have the lowest cost of living among every other human being in the United States, move to Mississippi.

Seriously — it has the lowest cost of living overall, taking into account grocery, housing and transportation expenses.

Dollar for dollar, your cash will probably go further in the Magnolia State than if you were to live in a major urban cluster like New York, California or Florida. And you’ll definitely get more bang for your buck than if you lived in Hawaii — the state with the highest cost of living.

But packing up everything you own and moving somewhere just because it’s cheaper doesn’t actually make sense for most people. Jobs, family, friends and just plain old loving where you live means buying a piece of property outside Jackson isn’t always a viable option.

So whether you live in Huntsville or The Hamptons, you can cut your cost of living anyway. Take these steps to slash your bills and give your budget a Mississippi makeover.

1. Knock $489/Year From Your Car Insurance in Minutes

When’s the last time you checked car insurance prices? Unless you live in Ohio, North Carolina or New Hampshire — the cheapest states to get car insurance in 2021 — you’re probably paying too much. And that can make a big dent in your lower cost of living.

But no matter where you live, you should shop your options every six months or so — it could save you some serious money. Let’s be real, though. It’s probably not the first thing you think about when you wake up. But it doesn’t have to be.

A website called makes it super easy to compare car insurance prices. All you have to do is enter your ZIP code and your age, and it’ll show you your options.

Using, people have saved an average of $489 a year.

Yup. That could be $500 back in your pocket just for taking a few minutes to look at your options.

2. See if You’re Wasting $690/Year on Homeowners Insurance

You’re probably wasting money right now. And it’s probably on something you’d never expect — your homeowners insurance policy. But if you’re living in a place where housing is more expensive, this is the one cost you can actually control.

This isn’t something you actively think about — you just know you’re required to have it.

The problem is, you’re paying too much. Luckily, an insurance company called Policygenius makes it easy to find out how much you’re overpaying. It finds you cheaper policies and special discounts in minutes.

In fact, it saves users an average of $690 a year — or $57.50 a month. It’ll even help you break up with your old insurance company. (You’re allowed to cancel your policy at any time, and your company should issue you a refund.)

And just because you’re saving money doesn’t mean you’re skimping on coverage. Policygenius will make sure you have what you need.

Just answer a few questions about your home to see how much money you’re wasting.

3. Stop Paying Your Credit Card Company

What does your credit card have to do with your cost of living? Well, no matter where you live, credit card debt payments can be keeping you from saving more money and investing it somewhere smart.

And the truth is, your credit card company doesn’t really care. It’s just getting rich by ripping you off with high interest rates — some up to 36%. But a website called AmOne wants to help.

If you owe your credit card companies $50,000 or less, AmOne will match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every single one of your balances.

The benefit? You’ll be left with one bill to pay each month. And because personal loans have lower interest rates (AmOne rates start at 3.49% APR), you’ll get out of debt that much faster. Plus: No credit card payment this month.

You don’t need a perfect credit score to get a loan — and comparing your options won’t affect your score at all.  Plus, AmOne keeps your information confidential and secure, which is probably why after 20 years in business, it still has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

It takes less than a minute and just 10 questions to see what loans you qualify for — you don’t even need to enter your Social Security number. You do need to give AmOne a real phone number in order to qualify, but don’t worry — they won’t spam you with phone calls.

4. Find Out If You’re Overpaying

Wouldn’t it be nice if you got an alert when you’re shopping online at Target and are about to overpay?

That’s exactly what this free service does. And if you want to have a lower cost of living, you should be taking advantage of the lowest prices available on the internet.

Just add it to your browser for free, and before you check out, it’ll check other websites, including Walmart, eBay and others to see if your item is available for cheaper. Plus, you can get coupon codes, set up price-drop alerts and even see the item’s price history.

Let’s say you’re shopping for a new TV, and you assume you’ve found the best price. Here’s when you’ll get a pop up letting you know if that exact TV is available elsewhere for cheaper. If there are any available coupon codes, they’ll also automatically be applied to your order.

In the last year, this has saved people $160 million.

You can get started in just a few clicks to see if you’re overpaying online.

Capital One Shopping compensates us when you get the extension using the links provided.

Kari Faber is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She has only lived in the most expensive states the last 10 years and has definitely paid for it.




Myth: Life Insurance is NOT Taxable

You may think that life insurance is tax-free. Unfortunately, the “no tax on life insurance” idea is only partly true: Life insurance is income tax-free. In other words, recipients of a decedent’s life insurance policy do not have to pay income tax on that sum.

However, if it’s large enough, the decedent’s estate — including any life insurance proceeds — could be subject to federal and/or state estate taxes. As an example, let’s say you have a $1 million life insurance policy. The IRS deems that policy an asset, just as if you had an investment portfolio worth $1 million. And upon your death, the IRS sees it as a million-dollar asset you just transferred to your beneficiaries, and taxes it accordingly. That estate tax is usually due upon death, and it can be substantial.

If you’re among those wealthy enough to be concerned about this possibility, how can you avoid having your life insurance proceeds included in your estate and therefore possibly subject to the estate tax? You can create an irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT) and name that trust the owner of your life insurance. By doing so, that particular asset will be removed from your estate. Upon your death, the proceeds from your life insurance will pass on to your heirs not only income tax-free but estate tax-free as well.

Who might be a candidate for an ILIT? If your estate is in excess of the federal “application exclusion amount” (which for 2021 is $11.7 million for single individuals and $23.4 million for couples under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017)*, an ILIT could save your family up to 40% in federal estate taxes. It’s a benefit worth the legal fees and complexity associated with setting up an ILIT. Keep in mind, 12 states, plus the District of Columbia, have their own estate taxes, and their exclusion amounts may be much lower than the federal limits.

Another benefit: An ILIT can help you can avoid tax on both spouses’ estates. Life insurance proceeds can be held in a trust for the benefit of the surviving spouse during his/her lifetime. When that person dies, the proceeds will not be included as part of his/her estate either, but will pass tax-free to your children and then to your grandchildren, as an ILIT in a multigenerational trust.

Be forewarned: The IRS scrutinizes ILITs carefully. In order to make sure your ILIT passes IRS inspection, you must:

  1. Transfer any polices you already own to the ILIT by completing an “absolute assignment” or “change of ownership” form.
  2. Relinquish all ownership rights to the trust. It’s not as simple as you may think. In fact, you can be charged with retaining an ownership right in the life insurance policy without ever having held title to that policy. If you want to keep insurance proceeds out of your estate, you need to:
  • Give up all ownership rights to the policy, including the right to change beneficiaries, borrow from cash values, and make premium payments;
  • Enter into an annual cash partition agreement in order to create separate funds from which premiums are paid so that there is no mistake as to whom the payor/owner really is; and
  • Maintain a change of ownership in an existing policy for at least three years before the insured’s death. In other words, you must survive for at least three years after transferring your policy to the trust. Otherwise, the proceeds will be taxed in your estate as if you retained ownership of the policy.

Bottom line: Your heirs will not pay income tax on any life insurance proceeds they receive, but if the estate is large enough, they will pay estate taxes on the policy — unless you set up an ILIT at least three years before your death. And though ILITs can save some families a great deal of money, it’s best to enlist a professional to design a trust that will pass IRS muster.

*The Act sunsets on Dec. 31, 2025, after which the amount will adjust to the old $5 million exemption, indexed for inflation.

CEO and Senior Adviser, Retirement Planners of America

Ken Moraif, CFP, is CEO and senior adviser at Retirement Planners of America, a Dallas-based wealth management and investment firm with over $4.3 billion in AUM and serving over 8,000 households (as of May 2019). He is also the host of the radio show “Money Matters with Ken Moraif,” which has offered listeners retirement, investing and personal finance advice since 1996.


Is Private Insurance the ‘New Kid on the Block’?

Private Insurance. Have you heard of it? Chances are this is a new concept to you, but as a business owner in 2021, it is one well worth exploring.

Private Insurance is a marketing term describing an exclusive program that allows a closely held business to purchase insurance policies for specific losses associated with enterprise (business) risk. By offering businesses the opportunity to direct-procure insurance through an already established insurance structure, and not through the traditional insurance avenue, private insurance delivers a transparent turn-key access into the alternative risk transfer space.

What Kinds of Risks Can You Insure?

Enterprise risk is quite a popular subject at the moment. These are the low-probability, but high-severity exposures that are now top of mind as the country still adjusts to the economic side-effects of these unprecedented times. The age of COVID-19 has increased the hazards for such enterprise risk. Businesses across the country are seeking to transfer this traditionally self-retained risk to a third-party insurer.

Private Insurance allows a business to direct-procure enterprise risk coverage for loss of net income due to a variety of unfortunate events — such as loss of key personnel, loss of a key customer, loss of a key supplier, and more.

The options for businesses are to transfer this risk by purchasing insurance from a traditional insurance carrier or to seek insurance through alternative means. The latter is often popular when a company feels alternative insurance has superior risk management systems affording them the capacity to outperform the black hole of traditional insurance.

Moreover, Private Insurance offers even more than an insurance policy; it can become a tremendously valuable investment opportunity.

How Does Private Insurance Work?

As with most insurance transactions, a business purchases insurance from an insurance carrier, and that insurance carrier binds the risk, issues policies back to the business, and then reinsures a portion of that risk to a reinsurance carrier — insurance for insurance. However, in Private Insurance, 100% of the premium earned through the sale of policies gets ceded to the reinsurance carrier. That carrier allows investors, who are designated by the business purchasing the policies an investment opportunity connected to the performance of the reinsurance carrier.

Here is the key: The reinsurance company has individual funds that rise and fall with claims experienced over the course of multiple policy-periods. Any dollars not used to pay claims or underwriting expenses are deposited into these policy-linked accounts to participate in the funding of individual policy-linked claims.

With good claims experience, these accounts have the potential for tremendous growth over time. When the business no longer purchases these policies, the investor has the sole-benefit of the assets that have accumulated in these policy-linked accounts.

The Bottom Line

At a high level, Private Insurance is a robust and proprietary transaction whereby a business direct-procures insurance, the reinsurance carrier distributes this risk among hundreds of insureds throughout the country, and the investors benefit from the underwriting profit of the reinsurance carrier. This structure not only protects you in the present, but it can also secure your future.

In a world full of more uncertainties than ever, one thing is certain: Private Insurance is the way of the future.

Managing Partner, Jeffrey M. Verdon Law Group, LLP

Jeffrey M. Verdon, Esq. is the managing partner of the Jeffrey M. Verdon Law Group, LLP, a Trusts & Estates boutique law firm located in Newport Beach, Calif. With more than 30 years of experience in designing and implementing comprehensive estate planning and asset protection structures, the law firm serves affluent families and successful business owners in solving their most complex and vexing estate tax, income tax, and asset protection goals and objectives.


5 Being a ‘Failure’ Could Push You Toward Your Full Potential

About 43% of newlyweds added a virtual option to their wedding last year, according to the 2021 WeddingWire Newlywed Report.
Investment advisory services offered by Stash Investments LLC, an SEC registered investment adviser. This material has been distributed for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended as investment, legal, accounting, or tax advice. Investing involves risk.

‘Failure’ No. 1: Not Having a Picture-Perfect Wedding

When you invest your first , you’ll get another bonus to invest.* Now, you’ll have access to all of Stash’s tools, including its real estate investments. The app costs a month.
Thankfully, a website called Credit Sesame will help you detect any errors — for free. It’ll even help you dispute them.
Unlike other sites, InboxDollars pays you in cash — no points or gift cards. It’s already paid its users more than million.
Imagine waking up with no credit card debt. Whether you’re stressed about being in debt forever or you’re just sick of the extra monthly bill, this would be a huge relief.
Buying a “like new” instead of “brand new” can help keep your budget intact and goals in sight. And you could spend even less on your new car by reviewing your credit scores before you buy.
*Offer is subject to Promotion Terms and Conditions. To be eligible to participate in this Promotion and receive the bonus, you must successfully open an individual brokerage account in good standing, link a funding account to your Invest account AND deposit .00 into your Invest account.
It’s possible to earn up to 5 a month without having to get another job.
A research company called InboxDollars will pay you to watch short video clips online. All you have to do is choose which videos you want to watch and answer a few quick questions about them afterward.
If there’s one thing the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, it’s that just about any event can be conducted completely online. Adding a virtual component to your wedding festivities could help you afford to include everyone on your guest list, if you just don’t have the budget for a blockbuster wedding.

‘Failure’ No. 2: Not Buying a Brand New Car

Is it ever worth it to be “house poor” — that is, you dump so much money into your house (downpayment, mortgage, closing costs, moving expenses) that you have little to no cash on hand?
Debt isn’t always a bad thing, especially when there’s not a lot of interest attached to it and it gives you the flexibility to address other financial issues. Yet, you might feel like you’re failing if you can’t seem to make any meaningful dents in your debt.
Quinten Plummer is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.
You might feel like you’re failing or falling short of your full potential if you just can’t ever get a hold of that promotion your job has been dangling on a stick in front of you.
Trust us — you’re not a failure if you lack the resources to pour into pulling off a picture-perfect wedding.
While you might not ever get that particular title you’ve been grooming yourself to earn, you can give yourself a promotion and even get a new title: bookkeeper.
Privacy Policy
Along with scaling back the ceremony and accommodating virtual guests, you could also earn a little extra cash on the side to help offset costs. If you don’t have the time or energy for another job, we found a more effortless way to earn some extra cash.

‘Failure’ No. 3. Not Buying a House Before a Certain Age 

The Penny Hoarder is a Paid Affiliate/partner of Stash. 
It will match you with a low-interest loan to pay off all your credit cards at once. Its interest rates start at 3.49% — way lower than the 20% or more you’re probably paying your credit card company. That could save you thousands in the long run.
AmOne keeps your information confidential and secure, which is probably why after 20 years in business, it still has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
If you have an error on your credit report (one out of five reports do), you could end up paying more for a car than you should.
If you don’t already use Stash, sign up here.
Wringing ringless fingers? Expecting to be expectant? Working hard to finally work for yourself?

‘Failure’ No. 4: Not  Being Out of Debt Yet 

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If you want to feel like you’re on top of the world, finance as nice of a car as you can afford. And if you want to feel the weight of the world, watch how fast it depreciates.
Salome Buitureria, a working mom in Louisiana, found a major error on her report this way. Using Credit Sesame, she was able to fix the mistake and take additional steps to raise her credit score from 524 to nearly 700.
There are several ways you can invest in REITs, but perhaps the easiest is through an app called Stash. You might have heard of it. It helps folks invest and save small amounts of change. It also helps us invest small amounts into real estate.
Your failure to reach some of life’s most heralded milestones, or even basic self-sufficiency, may leave you feeling as if you just can’t keep pace with the pack. Chin up — you’re probably doing better than you think. Find out if any of these seven “failures” could actually put you on the inside track to getting ahead in life and reaching your full potential.

It only takes about 90 seconds to sign up.
You don’t have to be an accountant or good at math to start your own bookkeeping business. As long as you’re motivated, a company called will teach you everything you need to know. It’s one of the leading training courses in the field, and it’ll even give you the first three classes for free.

‘Failure’ No. 5: Not Getting That Big Promotion 

It takes about one minute to sign up, and you’ll immediately get a bonus to get you started.
If you don’t have the time or money to buy a house yet, you may want to look into real estate investment trusts (REITs). These are funds pooled together from thousands of investors to invest in one property, like a mutual fund.
It’s inevitable. Everyone fails at something. But thankfully, most of those failures won’t show up on your permanent record. We fail at things so often and so grandly that many of us routinely label big-picture victories as losses, by mistake.
The most important thing is that you’ve found someone to spend the rest of your life with. You can make up for a lack of funds with a little creativity and technology.
It takes two minutes to see if you qualify for up to ,000 online.
Ready to stop worrying about money?
It might be a safer, less stressful venture to get more aggressive in saving to bolster your retirement accounts to their full potential. But if you’re hellbent on investing in real estate, there are more attainable avenues you can venture down.
Yes, driving a brand new car is one of those conventional signs of success, but the average person can’t tell the difference between model years, if the cars are part of the same generation. The average car generation contains about five to seven model years.
Impossible, right? But with help from a free website called AmOne, you could wipe out all of your credit card debt by the end of the week.
Plus, you’ll be debt-free that much faster. <!–


It’s helped thousands of people launch their own businesses, including Daniel Honan, a military veteran in his 30s. He never considered starting his own company, but he signed up for, and now he’s making around ,000 a year keeping track of business expenses for his 10 clients.

Apply for Lemonade Life Insurance Coverage For as Little as $9/Mo

First of all, Lemonade’s application process is entirely online. Yep. You don’t even need to leave the couch. There’s no medical exam needed, and unlike other life insurance websites, Lemonade offers term life insurance directly, and won’t direct you elsewhere to fill out more forms and compare quotes yourself. You simply fill out an application once, and if approved, choose your coverage and buy right from their website or app. Privacy Policy In the past, applying for life insurance was a tedious process that required tons of paperwork and an invasive medical exam. But things are changing, thanks to new companies like Lemonade. Gone are the days of blood tests, signatures and endless insurance jargon. Let’s get the assumptions out of the way: Life insurance isn’t just for old rich people, and it might not be as expensive as you think, if you know where to go looking for it.

Apply for Term Life Insurance in as Little as 5 Minutes — for as Low as $9/Month

Those guilty thoughts about not having your family protected? You can seriously get rid of them without missing a second of “NCIS New Orleans.” If you’re between the ages of 18 and 60 and living in the U.S. (except New York), complete your application in the next five minutes and know you’re covered for the term you selected. You can have this done before the next commercial break ends. Ok, the idea of life insurance kind of sucks. If it gets used, it means you died. Or someone you love and/or depend on died. No one wants to think about the worst possible outcome — to the point that no one wants to even think about buying life insurance.

What Makes Lemonade Different?

But here’s the thing: It can get even worse when the people you love end up in financial trouble without your income and no life insurance to keep them afloat. Think about it — defaulted mortgages, depleted emergency funds and missed college tuition payments could upend your family’s life. Ready to stop worrying about money? That’s why a website called Lemonade wants to offer you affordable term life insurance in as little as five minutes — so you don’t have to worry about the what-ifs again. Whether you need a ,000 policy or a .5 million policy, Lemonade can help find the right coverage for you. There’s no paperwork and no medical exam required. Coverage starts for as low as a month! Kari Faber is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She has a life insurance policy through Lemonade because it really was that easy to do.  The application takes as little as five minutes and asks questions about your health, lifestyle and who you want your beneficiaries to be. <!–


You won’t enter your credit card until after you’ve been approved, accepted your quote and read the fine print, so your info is safe and protected.

Get Homeowners Insurance From Lemonade for $25/Mo

And if you don’t file any claims, your money isn’t going into the pockets of investors. Lemonade will donate your unused claim money to the charity of your choice.
Lemonade is a totally digital insurance company — powered by AI — meaning you can fill out your information, get your detailed quote and purchase your policy before your morning coffee even gets cold.

Owning a home comes with all sorts of expenses — from yard maintenance to taxes — all of which can get really expensive. And unfortunately, a lot of them are out of your control. Except for this one: your homeowners insurance.

Make Sure Your Home is Protected in Less Than 5 Minutes

Policies start at a month and can go into effect as soon as tomorrow. Procrastinators, rejoice!
The last thing you need when your water heater blows up or a tree lands in your living room is a nightmare customer service experience with your homeowners insurance.
With Lemonade, all claims are handled through its app, and some can be  paid out instantly. Yep — right when you need the money to replace a window, it’s on it’s way. There’s a reason why the Lemonade app has a 4.8/5 rating on ConsumerAffairs, Google Play and the App Store.
Kari Faber is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.

What Happens When You Actually Need to Use Your Insurance?

Ready to stop worrying about money?
When you take five minutes to answer questions about your home — things like square footage and safety features — you’ll get a detailed quote from Lemonade at their best rate. You can see what’s covered, what’s not and where your discounts are coming from.
So if you need homeowners insurance or want to save money with a new policy, get started here by answering a few questions about your home. In just a few minutes, you could be paying as little as a month to protect the biggest purchase of your life.
Buying homeowners insurance doesn’t have to suck. By getting your policy online, you’ll eliminate the most annoying parts of getting covered. No more filling out 10 forms or fielding calls from a dozen insurance agents to get the best price. And even better: No more hidden costs, upcharges or confusing line items. <!–


If you want to add more coverage for items like your grandmother’s pearls, a bike or a treasured piece of art, you can do that, too. Your policy is customizable, so you can get exactly what you need — no more, no less.

Is Pet Insurance Worth It? Our Pros & Cons For 2021

You have insurance for your health, your car, your house, but what about your pets? Do they have pet insurance coverage?

If you don’t currently have pet insurance, you’re not alone. While around 67% of U.S. households own pets, just over 1% of those pets are insured, according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association.

But given the price of vet care, it’s worth looking into. The ASPCA estimates the annual cost of routine vet visits is $80-$250 for dogs and $110-$550 for cats depending on your pet’s age. Emergency vet visits can cost from $800-$1,500, and sometimes more.

If you’ve ever found yourself at the animal hospital at 3 a.m. with a beloved pet in distress, you know what it’s like to be willing to shell out pretty much anything to make Oscar feel better.

That’s why we’ve put together this breakdown to help pet owners decide: Is pet insurance worth it for you and your pets?

How Does Pet Insurance Work?

Like human health insurance, pet insurance companies help alleviate some of the costs of keeping your pet healthy. You can choose from different levels of coverage, with each plan costing a monthly or annual premium based on how much coverage you choose.

Some plans cover basic scenarios like accidents and injuries, some only cover accidents, and others include accidents, injuries and genetic/hereditary conditions. The more comprehensive the coverage, the higher you can expect the cost to be.

Pro Tip

Whether or not you opt for pet insurance, start an emergency fund now for vet care to make sure you can handle unexpected out-of-pocket costs. 

Many plans have a deductible, a certain amount you must pay out of pocket before coverage kicks in. Depending on your policy, this could be anywhere from $0-$2,500 in a plan year. Typically, higher-deductible plans will give you a better percentage of your money back.

While human health insurance works on a copay basis (you pay a certain percentage when you see the doctor and the insurance covers the rest), pet insurance is largely a matter of reimbursement.

You pay the full amount due when you take your pet in for care, then submit a claim to the insurance company afterwards. Depending on your policy, they’ll pay you back anywhere from 20 to 100% of covered costs.

Rates are calculated based on your pet’s age and breed, as well as your location (vet costs are higher in some areas than others).

How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost?

While individual costs will vary based on your pet’s breed, age, health and the tier you opt for, across 11 of the top pet insurers, the average monthly cost for dog insurance is $42.45, while pet insurance for cats costs an average of $20.99 per month, according to Value Penguin.

Have an exotic pet (i.e. anything other than a dog or cat)? Your options are a bit more limited, but you can still find coverage. Check out Pet Assure and Nationwide for plans for birds, rabbits, reptiles and other members of the animal kingdom.

Is pet insurance worth it
A dog receives cancer treatment at BluePearl Veterinary Partners in Tampa, Fla. Tina Russell / The Penny Hoarder

The 5 Pros of Pet Insurance

1. It’s Easy to Compare Options

Unlike human health insurance, which can be a labyrinth of plans and riders you need a pro to help decode, pet insurance is relatively straightforward. Policies are simple, tiers are easy to compare, and you can get a no-commitment quote from different companies within minutes, making price shopping a breeze.

2. Premiums Can Be Low for Young Pets

If your pet is young or healthy, or you choose a lower tier, you can get coverage for less than the monthly cost of a fancy coffee and croissant. It’s not a huge price to pay for the security of knowing your pet can get the help they need.

3. Deductibles are Reasonable

Compared to the cost of one late-night animal ER visit, most plans’ deductibles are affordable. If, heaven forbid, your pet is seriously injured or ill, you could wind up paying at least the cost of the deductible anyway — but with insurance, you can get your pet the extra care and piece of mind towards vet bills that you may not have been able to afford on your own.

4. You Get to Choose Your Vet

There are no “out of network” provider headaches when it comes to pet insurance. As long as your vet is licensed, eligible expenses should be covered and there’s no need to worry if your vet “accepts” your plan. Since you pay for the cost out of pocket and then submit a claim to the company for reimbursement, all you need from your vet is a copy of their invoice and for them to fill out a section of the claim form.

5. You Can Do More For Your Pet

The NAPHIA reports owners with pet insurance are more likely to seek medical care for their pets than those without. No one wants to have to choose between a sick pet and a mountain of debt. Too many pet owners, faced with a catastrophic medical crisis they hadn’t prepared for, are forced to make the heartbreaking decision to elect for “economic euthanasia,” USA Today reports. If you invest in pet insurance, you could save yourself — and your pet — from ever facing such a decision.

The 4 Cons of Pet Insurance

1. Premiums Can be High for Older Pets

If your pet is older, has a pre-existing condition or you choose a high tier, you could be looking at monthly premiums of $40 or more. You’ll want to carefully weigh whether the annual cost makes sense for you.

2. You Still Have to Pay Up Front

Having pet insurance won’t save you from having to shell out big bucks if your pet needs a costly procedure. Whether you have coverage or not, it’s wise to have a separate savings fund for vet emergencies to ensure you can handle upfront charges until your claims are processed.

3. It Doesn’t Cover Everything

 On average, pet owners with insurance still pay around 20%of their pets’ medical expenses, according to a report by The New York Times. Routine wellness checkups usually aren’t covered, so you’ll still pay for those out of pocket. Certain hereditary/genetic conditions may also not be covered; be sure to check each policy’s specifics carefully.

4. The Coverage has Limitations

Many plans also limit the amount you can claim, either annually or over your pet’s lifetime. If your pet is unfortunate enough to suffer a major medical problem, you could max out your plan’s limit quickly and find yourself paying the difference. It’s then that pet insurance costs seemed worth it.

If your pet only needs routine vet care, you won’t save much. If they insure their pets, owners spend an average of $324 out of pocket on a dog and $264 out of pocket on a cat, according to the zoology and veterinary sciences journal, Animals, compared to $251 for an uninsured dog and $146 for an uninsured cat.

This is largely because, unsurprisingly, owners with pet insurance take their animals to the vet more often than those who don’t have insurance.

And Then There’s the Premiums

And these numbers don’t include the annual price of pet insurance premiums. With an average cost of $42.45 a month for dogs and 20.99 a month for cats, insuring your pet could mean your total costs hit $833 for a dog or $515.88 for a cat. If your pet is fortunate enough to avoid any big issues, the cost of pet health insurance could outweigh the savings.

A dog is held down by two vet techs while receiving cancer treatment.
Veterinary technicians comfort a dog as it receives cancer treatment at BluePearl Veterinary Partners in Tampa, Fla. Tina Russell / The Penny Hoarder

Should You Get Pet Insurance?

Like property insurance (car, home, etc.), you won’t necessarily “save” or “make” money in an average scenario, but in the event of a catastrophe, you may find it’s worth the investment.

While you may not get the most bang for your buck with a relatively healthy pet, there’s no way to predict what illnesses or injuries might occur, and for many pet owners, knowing they have a safety net in place is value enough.

According to data based on average claims from PetFirst holders, the most common dog treatments cost $252.75 on average, while the most common cat treatments cost $266.79.

“Pet insurance can help offset routine medical expenses and can be especially helpful for the unknown,” said Dr. Jennifer Welser, chief medical officer of BluePearl Veterinary partners in Tampa. “Keeping the coverage may give you the freedom to make medical decisions for your beloved pets based on quality of life, not finances.”

Pro Tip

To get the most benefit from pet insurance, enroll your pet when they’re young for maximum savings. 

Talk to your vet to get an idea of your pet’s potential breed-specific health problems, and ask them which insurance they’d recommend. If you decide to choose catastrophic coverage (generally the best cost-to-savings option), spring for the highest deductible you can afford.

A dog stares at the camera.
A dog waits to be examined at BluePearl Veterinary Partners in Tampa, Fla. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

How to Get Pet Health Insurance

To sign up for pet health insurance, you’ll need the following information for your pet:

  • Name
  • Breed
  • Age
  • Pre-existing conditions (if any)
  • Vet’s name and contact information

Have your pet seen by a vet if you haven’t done so within the past year.

Most policies have waiting periods, which means you can’t get coverage immediately following an accident or illness. (This ensures people don’t sign up for coverage only when they know they need to cover a big bill.) So if you think you’d be interested in pet insurance, apply now before you end up needing it.

Kelly Gurnett is the managing editor of Money Crashers and wrote this as a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.