A study from U.K.-based People's Dispensary for Sick Animals revealed that pet parents dramatically underestimate the costs of owning a pet over a lifetime. The majority of pet owners surveyed said they believed lifetime expenses wouldn't top $6,445 — a fraction of actual costs. According to the study, the approximate lifetime cost of owning a dog ranges from $27,074 to $42,545, and $21,917 to $30,942 for cats. The study accounted for everything from food and grooming to health and veterinarian expenses.

Pet insurance, however, can offer owners some protection when it comes to veterinarian bills for illnesses and accidents — and it can also come in handy during times of uncertainty.

MONEY recently evaluated pet insurance plans in the U.S. to find the best ones available. In their assessment, MONEY considered pricing, coverage options and additional benefits and spoke to veterinary doctors to gain an understanding of how insurance affects pets and owners.

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Heather A. Turner

Heather A. Turner is the managing editor of ALM's NU Property & Casualty Group. She can be reached at [email protected].