Your pets are like your children and just like your children they need to be taken to the doctor every now and then. Unfortunately, veterinary bills can become expensive, but now with pets becoming so ingrained in our lives, pet insurance is becoming more and more prevalent to help stave off those pricey bills.
However, purchasing pet insurance isn't for everyone, so before you go out and buy a plan for Lady or Tigger, you must decide if it's the right option for you.
What is Pet Insurance?
Just like your insurance, pet insurance plans can cover office visits, annual checkups, immunizations and emergency care. Plans may vary with pre-set annual or incident limits, deductibles, annual premiums, limits on pre-existing conditions and exclusions for hereditary defects. And just like with your medical insurance, co-pays are involved for tests, office visits, x-rays and hospitalization. In addition, premiums are based on where you live, age of the pet and breed, and add-on riders can be bought to cover physical exams and dental cleanings.
Who Offers it?
There are several companies including Veterinary Pet Insurance Co, PetCare Pet Insurance and Petshealth Care Plan who provide coverage. Employers are even getting in on the act and offering pet insurance as a perk. Comcast, Home Depot, Walt Disney and Sprint are just a few examples of companies offering their employees health benefits for their furry friends.
Is Pet Insurance Right For You?
If you're the type of owner who will do anything to prolong your pet's life, then pet insurance might save you money in the long run. It can often get costly when your pet gets sick and needs surgery. If the costs get too great, the only other alternative is often to put your beloved pet down. With pet insurance, you may be able to save some money while prolonging Rover's life in the process. However, it's important to consider what you spend a year in veterinary bills versus what it costs to purchase a plan, as sometimes it may cost more in premiums and deductibles then it does to just pay for an office visit or two.
If you think pet insurance is the way to go, The American Animal Hospital Association offers a few tips:
• Be sure you understand what the policy covers. Some policies (but not all) cover some preventative care, such as vaccinations, but there may be additional costs for this coverage.
• Understand the exclusions. Almost all policies exclude pre-existing conditions and some exclude hereditary conditions. Some may exclude certain conditions unique to certain breeds.
• Almost all policies have a deductible and a co-pay requirement. Some pay according to a set schedule of "usual and customary fees" while some pay based on the actual incurred expense. Be sure you understand how expenses will be reimbursed.
• Ask whether or not the policy allows you to seek care from a veterinarian of your own choosing or whether you must go to a veterinarian that participates in the company's network of providers. When faced with a pet's serious illness, most pet owners want to be able to obtain care from their regular veterinarian.
• Speak with your veterinarian or someone on their practice team. While veterinarians do not sell insurance, chances are they have had experience with the policy you are considering and can provide helpful advice.