Pet insurance is fast becoming a very popular type of insurance for dog and cat owners. The main reason is because technology has enabled treatments and cures for illnesses and injuries that were not possible in the past. However, these treatments can cost thousands of dollars. For example, the most common orthopedic dog injury is a torn knee ligament. The bill could be $3,000. If a dog or cat is injured by a moving vehicle, the owners could have a huge vet bill.
There are many different pet insurance products, and most of them can be customized for any budget. The average claim for a dog is about $800 per year and for a cat about $600. If there are any added treatments, especially long term treatments for cancer or diabetes, the costs would increase. Since many pets are considered part of the family, losing one that could have been saved can be devastating.
If a person decides that they want to insure their pet, the first thing they should do is research several providers. They can ask their vet for any recommendations, but still look at other options. Some things to compare are:
Coverage levels – there’s no point in selecting a plan that is so cheap it doesn’t help when it is needed. The plan should cover true costs of treatments for accidents, illnesses, congenital and hereditary conditions. Curable and chronic conditions should be covered. There may be add-on options such as dental care, routine care and travel insurance.
Limitations and exclusion of coverage – this includes routine wellness care, emergency treatments, surgery and long-term care. Most insurance providers will not insure pre-existing conditions or particular breeds of cat or dog. If the pets are considered high-risk, the company may limit the number they will cover. On the other hand, some companies give discounts if multiple pets are insured.
Lifetime coverage – this means that when it is time to renew the police, the treatment for any illness the pet has will continue. Without this, the illness could be considered a pre-existing condition because the pet was sick or injured when the policy ended and renewal began. As a pre-existing condition, the owner will not be able to get a policy from another company. Even if it costs a bit more, it is well worth it in the event a pet requires ongoing care or treatment.
Easy to understand - the insurance provider should make the premiums, co-pays, deductibles, add on charges and any other fees perfectly clear, so the customer understands exactly what they get.
The insurance policy should allow the pet owner to select the vet they want for any treatment or care. This includes emergency clinics, a licensed vet anywhere in the world and specialists for certain diseases such as cancer or eye problems.
Some insurance providers still use a benefit schedule. This means the plan could limit the owner’s choice of vet and treatment. It may also limit the amount the insurance company will pay. For example, if the pet requires a treatment that costs $1,000, but the schedule of benefits only pays $300 for that treatment, then the pet owner will have to pay the balance.
Many insurance plans for pets are reimbursement plans. This means the pet owner gets the bill and pays it. They then ask the insurance provider for reimbursement. The owner should be very clear about how they make claims and receive reimbursement. There will also be a deductible as with home and car insurance. The higher the deductible, the lower the monthly costs and vice versa. If the owner can set aside the amount required for the deductible so that it is always immediately available, a higher deductible is the best option.
The cost of insurance for a pet depends on several factors including:
• The age of the pet
• Where the pet lives
• The amount of coverage
• The breed of the cat or dog
Premiums vary widely, which is why it is recommended to research several companies before making a choice. It is always better to get insurance when the pet is young. In the past, no insurance company would cover a dog or cat that had turned eight years old. Today, most companies have no age limit, which is good because many problems arise in the pet's old age. The same can be said for breeds. For example, German shepherds are famous for hip problems, which weren’t covered in the past but are today. The insurance company may request the records from the pet’s last checkup to determine if there are any pre-existing conditions.
Pet insurance isn’t for every pet. If the dog or cat has a regular vet, it would be wise for the owner to get the vet’s opinion to determine if insurance is the right step for the breed and age of the pet and the budget of the owner.
By Andre Bradley