Pet Health Insurance

Your pet’s chances of living to a ripe old age are increasing steadily as veterinary research comes up with new life-saving medications and technologies.

These miracles, however, come at a price: some procedures cost thousands of dollars. Pet owners can be faced with choosing between the loss of a beloved family member and the liquidation of their savings or mounting debt.

However, if you’ve had the forethought to take out pet health insurance, the decision is often much easier. Major surgeries, diagnostic tests and other expensive procedures and medications are often covered by pet medical insurance, leaving the owner responsible for a relatively low deductible perhaps even just $100.

Pet Health Insurance Coverage

Most pet owners are glad to pay for the peace of mind that comes with knowing that veterinary pet insurance will cover the costs of emergency treatment. If you”re considering pet care insurance, you’ll have to decide first what type of coverage you want for your pet.

Emergency Pet Insurance typically covers the costs of emergency procedures, minus a deductible. Keep in mind that the frequency with which you pay deductibles can vary: while one pet insurance company might charge you for the deductible once a year, another might apply a deductible fee for each incident. Emergency veterinary pet insurance usually covers motor vehicle accidents, allergic reactions, broken bones, ingestion of foreign substances, cuts and lacerations, and infections and injuries sustained in encounters with other animals.

If your pet leads a relatively risk-free life (i.e. resides indoors and rarely goes outside), you might opt for pet medical insurance that covers only chronic illness. Conditions such as cancer, distemper, whooping cough, urinary tract infections, bladder stones and respiratory illness are just as likely to befall your stay-at-home kitty as they are the more active, outdoorsy pet.

Pet care insurance is also available for healthy animals. Most of us spend hundreds of dollar each year on keeping our pets healthy. Veterinary pet insurance can cover the costs of annual vaccinations, flea control, heartworm medication, spaying or neutering and elderly pet care.

A pet insurance company might also offer some “fringe benefits” such as microchip implantation for locating lost pets, or a lost and found registry. Routine care such as dental work or ear cleaning might be included, as well. Some companies offer pet owners tenant insurance, which covers the cost of damage to a rental home caused by your pet.

The Costs of Pet Medical Insurance

Clearly, the more options you select and the more comprehensive the coverage, the higher the cost of the insurance. Before you sign up for a plan, be sure to compute the costs of annual veterinary care and the approximate charges for emergency visits. Assess your pet’s risk andthis is the hard parthow much you’re willing to dig into your personal funds to save your pet”s life.

If the monthly cost of pet insurance premiums and deductibles exceeds the amount of money you’d be willing to spend in an emergency or in case of catastrophic illness, then pet health insurance may not be the best option for you. On the other hand, if you’re willing to spend a fixed amount each month to guarantee that your pet has access to the best health care, then this type of coverage is ideal.

Most insurers offer discounts for insuring multiple pets in one household. Many also allow you to choose any veterinarian and don’t limit you to a network of practitioners. A growing trend in companies that have more than 100 eligible employees is to offer pet health insurance as part of an employee’s benefit package, greatly reducing the costs of premiums for pet owners.

Your Pet’s Eligibility for Pet Care Insurance

A pet insurance company is unlikely to offer initial coverage for an elderly pet, translating to about thirteen years of age for dogs and fifteen years for cats. As your pet ages, the premiums are likely to increase. The cost of insuring pets grows about fifty percent after nine years for dogs and eleven years for cats.

Providers are also unlikely to cover your pet for pre-existing conditions. If you postpone your decision to buy insurance until after your pet has been diagnosed with a catastrophic illness, for example, you will be denied coverage.

Premiums will vary according to your pet’s lifestyle and breed. Purebred animals that are subject to inherited diseases and outdoor pets are considered higher risk pets, raising the cost of their pet insurance packages. However, indoor cats are less costly to insure due to the minimal risks they encounter.

Estimating the Costs of Veterinary Pet Insurance

Your vet can help you calculate the costs of emergency visits and major procedures. Discussing your costs and options is a good idea. Most people are unaware of the charges they’re likely to incur in the event of a serious accident or illness. The following items are among the expenses that pet health insurance usually covers:

  • prescription medications
  • diagnostics such as an x-ray, ultrasound, CAT scan or MRI
  • surgery
  • hospitalization
  • referral to a specialist
  • endoscopy for foreign object ingestion
  • homeopathic treatment (acupuncture or chiropractic care).

When you get a quote from a veterinary pet insurance provider, be sure to check what the policy covers and ask questions about items that don’t appear on the policy. Verify the list of exclusions. Some companies don”t cover the costs of hip replacement surgery in dog breeds that are prone to hip dysplasia.

Finally, don’t assume that veterinary pet insurance is only for cats and dogs. Many companies are willing to insure your rabbit, guinea pig, bird or pet snake. Remember to survey all your options before committing to a pet insurance plan.