TAMPA, Fla. — For 68 percent of Americans, pets are part of the family.  Whether it's a cat or a dog, the cost of owning a furry friend can add up, and it's something many people underestimate.

Pet insurance policies are becoming more popular. According to the ASPCA, most pets will have at least one emergency in their lifetime that will cost between $2,000-$4000. So, should we insure our pets health like we insure our own? There are a number of companies offering pet insurance now, including many businesses offering it as a benefit for employees.

But, you have to be smart about it and do your research. According to the Pet Insurance company Trupanion, the earlier you get the policy, the better. TJ Houk is a chief member experience officer with Trupanion.

"We recommend on that first veterinary visit when you're getting educated as a new pet owner or getting that pet checked out," Houk said. "That's a great time to talk to your veterinarian and look into insurance."

The cost of pet insurance varies based on a number of things, like age, breed, and even where you live. And, the cost of an emergency or illness in your fur baby adds up quick. Just a couple diagnostic tests, a surgery or even long term treatment of an illness like cancer can cost thousands of dollars -- money you will be pressured to spend to save that pets life.

You can get free estimates online from most pet insurance companies including Trupanion. Then just do the math: add up the monthly cost of insurance for the average life expectancy of your pet.

As an example: Insuring your new pet with a life expectancy of 15 years, for $50 a month, will wind up costing you $9,000. You have to decide if it's worth the peace of mind knowing you won't have to worry about coming up with thousands of dollars to pay for your pet's unexpected illnesses or emergencies.

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