Should you have health insurance for your pets?
If your pets need only routine care for all their lives, pet health insurance probably costs more than the cost of veterinary bills. On the other hand, if your pets require emergency treatment or ongoing care for a chronic condition, pet insurance can save you a lot of money.
Features of pet health insurance plans
Companies that provide pet insurance typically offer more than one plan. Plans range from basic (mainly injury and illness) to higher-coverage plans for preventive and routine care as well as long-term conditions.
When your pet is covered by a health insurance plan, your veterinary costs look like this:
- Monthly or annual insurance premiums
- Deductible for each year
- Veterinary expenses co-payment (the portion of the bill you pay, which is a percentage or a fixed amount)
- Veterinary expenses that the plan doesn’t cover
With most plans, you pay the veterinarian for the services, you submit the claims forms and receipts to the pet health insurance company, and the insurance company reimburses you for the expenses less the deductible.
Some insurance companies offer a discount for more than one pet.
Health insurance plan limitations
Every insurance plan has limitations. If you’re looking for a pet insurance plan provider, read their limitations carefully to make sure that they’ll allow the coverage you want.
- Approved veterinarians only Some plans provide coverage only if you take your pet to a veterinarian on the insurance company’s list. That may be all right if your veterinarian is on that list, but what happens if you move? Their list might not include a veterinarian in your neighborhood that you like.
- Species and breed Look for exclusions based on the type and breed of animal. Some plans require a premium for specific breeds of dogs rather than excluding them.
- Age of the pet Some policies have no age limit, while others won’t begin coverage of animals that are older than a specified age.
- Pre-existing conditions These are not usually covered except in some more comprehensive plans.
- Conditions covered Conditions that a particular breed is susceptible to might not be covered except via an additional premium. Not all plans cover cancer treatment.
- Maximum benefits Caps on the amount paid out may apply per illness or injury, per year, and per animal.
Making a decision about pet insurance
Unfortunately, only hindsight can tell you if pet insurance will save you money.
With advances in pet health treatment options, veterinarians can do more for animals with cancer or other life-threatening illnesses than in the past. These treatments can cost thousands of dollars, however, and veterinary bills after injuries can also be prohibitive.
Pet insurance reduces the financial bumps along the road of pet care. It provides the security of knowing that you’ll be better able to meet your pet’s health needs. In some situations, it could make the difference in whether or not you can keep your pet alive. If your pet doesn’t need expensive veterinary care, though, it’ll cost you more money than paying the veterinary bills yourself.
If you want to look at pet insurance plans, a Google search for "pet insurance" produces a lot of options to consider.