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Is Health Insurance For Your Pet Worth It?

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Is Health Insurance For Your Pet Worth It?

By Dr. Jona Jordan

Thanks to advances in veterinary medicine, pets are living happier, healthier, longer lives than ever before. As medicine becomes more technologically advanced, the cost of care increases because of the higher costs associated with equipment and training for health care professionals required to provide higher quality services. You shouldn’t have to worry about not being able to make the best medical decision for your pet because of finances, that’s what health insurance for your pet is for.  Pet insurance can help ease that anxiety by handling much of the cost of diagnosing, treating and managing your pet’s overall wellness plan.

Here’s what to watch for when looking into pet insurance:

  • The insurance provider should clearly spell out the details, limitations and exclusions of coverage for routine and/or wellness care as well as emergency treatments and conditions that require extensive care. Find out if your premiums will increase as your pet ages or if you make any claims. 
  • Check for add-on options to provide any specific coverage (e.g., dental care, travel insurance, etc.) you may want. Some plans don’t cover general cleanings in their basic plans, only dental care done under specific circumstances. Dental health is such an important part of protecting organ function, we recommend routine cleanings before the teeth reach crisis stage because a dental crisis may involve additional treatment for the other organs the dental disease has damaged.
  • Find out how they define and handle “pre-existing conditions” (diseases or conditions your pet already has – or has had – prior to purchasing the insurance plan). Some conditions may have a statute of limitations time line for what is “pre-existing”.
  • In some cases, insurance providers will not insure a specific breed of pet (or it will be more expensive) or may limit the number of pets you can insure, if they consider them “high risk.”
  • Some providers will give multiple pet discounts. This is something to look into especially for multiple pet households, or possibly giving the gift of insurance to a relative’s pet.
  • All of the charges, including co-pays, deductibles, add-on charges and other fees, should be clearly explained so you fully understand the policy and its limitations.
  • You should be allowed to choose the veterinarian who will provide veterinary care for your pet.  Some insurance companies have lists of the veterinary hospitals they accept.
  • Pet insurance plans are generally reimbursement plans – you pay the bills up front and are reimbursed by the insurance provider. Ask the insurance provider how claims are processed as well as the timeframe for reimbursement of your expenses so you know what to expect. (It’s best to find out your options ahead of time so you don’t have the added stress of trying to make payments on an emergency basis.) 
  • Whether you do or don’t have pet insurance, it’s a good idea to have a payment option in case of an emergency. Consider applying for Care Credit so you have it available in case emergency. 
  • Note: you can find  a spreadsheet comparing some of the more popular insurance companies on our website at www.MyCoddingtownVet.com and an even broader comparison breakdown at: petinsurancereview.com/features.asp

Hopefully this list gives you some things to think about when it comes to making the best choices for your pet’s health and helps you get ready to make the best medical decisions without having to worry about finances.