An Owner’s Guide to Pet Insurance

An Owner’s Guide to Pet Insurance

Man’s best friend is often the most beloved member of the family and everyone suffers when pets are sick. Veterinary care for pets has become almost as complicated and expensive as medical care for humans and more and more pet owners are turning to pet insurance to get financial assistance for treating sick or injured pets, and to make sure healthy ones stay that way. Plans vary as much for pets as they do for people so comparison shopping is a must.

Overview of Pet Insurance

Pet insurance works much the same way as medical insurance works for people. Monthly premiums entitle the policy holder to reimbursement when covered veterinary situations arise although different plans cover different procedures. Expect deductibles and co-payments, just like insurance on people, and beware of plans that have annual spending caps, exclude pre-existing conditions, or charge excessive rates for older pets.

  • Dogs Wag Their Tails for New Pet Insurance: The Veterinary Pet Insurance employee benefits plan at American University, Washington, DC, offers coverage for dogs and cats but covers more exotic pets, too, including goats, snakes, pigs, and opossums.
  • Pet Insurance: This USA.gov site provides a helpful list of important questions to answer before buying pet health insurance.
  • Pet Health Insurance: This college of veterinary medicine cites the growing number of pets being treated for cancer, getting fitted with pacemakers, and successfully undergoing all sorts of expensive surgeries and medical treatments once reserved for humans as a viable reason to consider getting pets insured.
  • Pet Health Insurance Gains Ground in North America: Although popular in Europe, only 3% of the pet owners in the United States (US) had pets insured in 2004 while, in Canada, just 2% of the pet cats and 9% of the dogs were insured in 2001. Both the American and Canadian Veterinary Medical Associations advocate insuring household pets of all species.

How Does One Go About Buying Pet Insurance?

More and more employers are offering pet health insurance coverage as part of their benefits options to employees. In this case, the insurer is already selected and the employee merely chooses to accept coverage or not. In other cases, pet owners buy on the open market. Compare rates on the internet before buying this way, ask vets for recommendations, and check with state regulatory agencies to find out how pet health insurance is regulated in each state. Perhaps the very best way to go about buying pet insurance, though, is to talk about it with other pet owners. If someone is unhappy with their coverage, find out why and try to avoid the situation yourself. Explore further when someone is happy with their coverage and consider buying a similar plan for your pets.

  • Buying Pet Health Insurance: Find out before buying if the plan you’re considering covers routine exams, vaccines, neutering, and office visits or is it reserved for catastrophic care only. These ten things to consider before buying will help pet owners make wiser investments in pet health insurance.
  • Cornell University’s Auto, Home, and Pet Insurance: Many employers are choosing, as does Cornell, to offer pet insurance as part of the benefits package they offer employees.
  • Pet Insurance / Is Your Pet Covered?: The University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine urges pet owners shopping for insurance to keep shopping until a comfortable fit is found.
  • Pet Insurance Reviews: Compare plans before buying at this online consumer guide, which claims 40% of all veterinary fees are the result of “unforeseen” illness or accident.

Top Insurance Companies Offering Pet Insurance

In many states, insurance coverage, including that for pets, is regulated; only insurance companies that meet state standards are allowed to do business. Check with regulatory agencies or local veterinary medicine universities to find our which companies have a favorable record for operations in your state and limit your choice to them. Cheaper rates may be available but coverage may be sketchy, details unclear, and filing claims may be a tremendous hassle. These companies have been in operation for long enough to earn admirable reputations across the nation.

  • 24PetWatch / Pet Insurance Programs: This insurer has paid out more than $80 million in claims to pet owners in the United States.
  • PetsHealthCare Plan: This pet insurance coverage is offered by The Hartville Group, the only pet insurance company partnered with the ASPCA.
  • PetPlan: The largest insurance provider for pet medical care in the world offers coverage on all sorts of ills, including chronic and hereditary conditions.
  • PurinaCare Pet Health Insurance: With one of the most trusted names in pet food and other products, it’s no wonder many people turn to Purina for insurance, too.
  • Veterinary Pet Insurance: This subsidiary of Nationwide Insurance has offered pet insurance for more than 25 years.

Is Pet Insurance Really Worth the Cost?

Differing opinions are often formed from using different criteria to form them. When comparing a year’s worth of monthly premiums to regular veterinary care paid out of pocket, the insurance doesn’t always seem like such a wise investment but pet health insurance can seem a godsend when chronic illness or catastrophic accidents occur. Pet health insurance is a lot like car insurance; no one insures the car because they expect to crash. In these cases, insurance for cars and pets provide financial protection and peace of mind when it’s appreciated the most.

  • Pet Healthcare Insurance Experiencing Positive Growth as Providers Join Together to Unify Higher Standards: Sixty percent of North American households are home to at least one pet and the projected veterinary bill for those pets in 2009 is about $25 billion. Insurance coverage for pets has improved dramatically since it was first offered 25 years ago, making it an option more attractive now than ever.
  • Pet Insurance–Essential Option: This article, written by a Canadian veterinarian, urges pet owners to consider the peace of mind insurance brings while allowing veterinarians to practice their profession “as if it were free.”
  • Pet Insurance May Help Keep Pets Healthy: This veterinarian thinks pet health insurance is well worth the investment; she’s even thinking about getting coverage for her own pets.
  • Pet Tips: The City of San Antonio, Texas, offers unexpected veterinary fees as well as third-party liability claims as good reasons to consider buying pet insurance.
  • Taking Care of Pets During a Disaster or Emergency: Pet owners who live in disaster-prone areas are advised to have emergency travel kits that include documentation of pet insurance and plans of action that can be implemented at a moment’s notice. Pets often get hurt in earthquakes, floods, wildfires, tornados, hurricanes, and other natural disasters and insurance defrays the cost of nursing them back to health. The US Department of Homeland Security and the American Veterinary Medical Association publish brochures and checklists designed to help pet owners keep pets safely with them at all times when disaster strikes.
  • Vet Bills and the Priceless Pet / What’s a Practical Owner to Do?: When facing five-figure vet bills or euthaniziation, pet insurance can sometimes mean the difference between life or death and it takes the question out of the pocketbook, allowing it to be made from the heart instead. This article discusses the pros and cons of pet insurance with real-life cases for examples.
Buying pet insurance coverage is a personal choice. Points to consider before purchase include household budget, age and general health of the pet in question, and any breed-specific ailments that make a pet prone to health problems. Pet owners who live near busy roadways may find insurance is a wise investment but pets on farms and ranches face danger, too. There’s no way to predict the future health of a pet but insurance is much more affordable if it’s bought when the pet is healthy, before hearts are broken.

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