As pet owners, we always want the best for our four legged friends, but, the best can often be very expensive, especially in an emergency situation. There are several financial options available to ensure that we can meet our pet’s needs; some owners keep a savings account designated specially for their pets, others have an emergency credit card. Increasingly, people are choosing pet insurance. Choosing what works best for you is important and there is no wrong answer, but it is important to make an informed decision. Being pet parents means that unexpected expenses will arise and we don’t want you to have to make difficult decisions for your pet based on cost alone. Pet insurance helps many people provide veterinary care for their pets that they might not otherwise be able to afford.
In considering pet insurance, first ask yourself, ‘Why do you want an insurance plan?’ Are you trying to soften the financial blow of an emergency situation? Do you want help with the annual wellness health care for your pet? Do you want to have the resources to cover treatment of chronic diseases that your pet may develop in the future? Second, be aware that age, breed, and current health status of your dog or cat which are important in assessing eligibility and cost. Lastly, you need to consider the cost of veterinary care in your area. Sitting down with your veterinarian and discussing ballpark figures for different emergency procedures is a good idea as it may help to determine how you may cover the cost.
As with human health-insurance plans, there are premiums, deductibles, co-pays, and maximum payouts. The premium is your monthly payment. The deductible is the amount you will pay out of pocket before the insurance plan begins to cover expenses. Depending on the provider, you may be able to choose your own deductible. There are also plans with co-pays, which means that you may have to pay percentage of the costs after the deductible has been met. It is important to make sure that you are aware of the maximum payouts. There are several different types of maximum payouts, so know the specifics of your plan. Do not base your decision for a plan on the premium alone. A plan may seem affordable but may have poor coverage.
As time goes on, more insurance plans are available for our furry friends. Once you have decided to get pet insurance, start researching insurance plans and providers. As with other types of insurance, it is imperative to read ALL the fine print. Key points to look for are:
- What all does the plan cover?
- Are there breed restrictions? Do premiums change with age or breed?
- Are there any requirements for the plan (i.e. annual wellness care)?
- Does the plan include or exclude any genetic or hereditary conditions?
- Are there multi-pet discounts?
- Will it cover pre-existing conditions?
- Is there a maximum pay-out? Per Year? Lifetime?
- Who is the policy’s underwriter?
If you are thinking about health insurance for your four-legged friends, take the time to do some research. There are many resources on the internet that explain pet health insurance plans in depth, offer testimonials, and help you compare plans to choose the best for you and your pet. Ask people you know and your veterinarian about recommendations. As pet owners, we always want to do whatever we can for our animals, and health insurance is an option to help us achieve that.