Pet Health Insurance
By Honor Tarpenning, NextDayPets.com Staff
A major consideration one must keep in mind when deciding to bring home a pet is whether or not one can afford to pay for the care of that pet. Pets, especially dogs, can be quite expensive when it comes to day to day care; but what about the event of an accident or severe illness? If you don’t want to risk breaking the bank to maintain the health and wellbeing of your beloved pooch, you should consider purchasing pet insurance.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, Americans spent 24.5 billion dollars on pet health care in 2006. Furthermore, with the impressive advancements in veterinary science, there exist much more advanced procedures, which can cost upwards of $5000. Clearly, we care dearly for our pets, and many are willing to pay huge amounts of money to save an ill pet. However, companion animals are euthanized or allowed to suffer every day because their owners simply cannot afford the care they need. Pet insurance offsets these exorbitant costs so you can keep your furry friend around for years to come.
Many are not aware of the existence, let alone the benefits of pet insurance; but it may surprise the reader to learn that the first pet insurance policy was offered in 1982. Through the almost three decades that pet insurance has been available to the public, many different providers have found their way into the market, each offering different levels of service, costs, benefits, and perks.
To choose which pet insurance company is right for you and your pets, you should shop around and consider what sort of coverage you are looking for. Different companies have different philosophies regarding coverage.
Some companies cover routine vet care. This includes annual exams, heartworm detection and treatment, vaccinations, teeth cleanings, general health screenings, prescriptions, spay and neuter procedures, and flea control. Some companies even cover professional consultations, deworming, fecal tests and pet identification microchips. Other companies believe it saves the consumer money in the long run to not offer coverage for routine care, the sort of care for which one can plan with relatively low and consistent costs. These companies claim that they can keep premiums lower by only offering coverage for the sort of incidents and illness for which the owner cannot plan, and therefore will not necessarily have the available funds.
Most plans offer major medical coverage. This usually includes accidents, serious illnesses, MRI CAT scans, X-rays, surgeries, hospitalization, foreign object removal, and snake bites. Most companies do not offer coverage for elective procedures, cosmetic procedures, pet food, grooming, behavior issues, congenital diseases and conditions, hereditary conditions and diseases, and pre-existing conditions.
One can sidestep the lack of coverage for pre-existing conditions by purchasing pet insurance as soon as a new puppy is purchased, before such conditions manifest themselves. There are companies that cover congenital and hereditary conditions, but they are few and far between, so one must shop around.
There are other issues one should consider when choosing a provider as well. Many providers will allow you to receive care from the vet of your choosing, while others require that you choose a vet within their network. This is an important question to ask before signing up with a company, especially if you already have a trusted family vet. You should also ask if your policy would cover specialist care, in the event of an eye injury or other comparable condition that requires the care of a specialist. Not all companies offer this coverage.
Consider deductibles as well when you are choosing an insurance company. Different companies offer different deductibles, some being significantly higher than others. Some companies even allow you to adjust your deductable to lower your monthly payments
The peace of mind offered by pet insurance is priceless. When your pet is injured or seriously ill, the last thing you want to think about is money; that is the time to focus on supporting and comforting your beloved pet.