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Do You Need Reliable and Affordable Pet Insurance?

Updated on March 31, 2010

Siberian Husky

If you have a pet, you know that he or she is definitely part of the family. However, taking care of your pet can get pretty expensive, especially if he or she is getting older and veterinarian visits are becoming more frequent, or if your pet is suffering from an illness that has made the vet bills stack up.

In these cases especially, insurance may indeed be a good idea. It's also quite affordable, and in general is going to cost you about $120 a year for basic coverage, which means that routine veterinary care is NOT covered. If you would like to include routine veterinary visits as part of your coverage, it's going to be a bit more expensive.

Nonetheless, for the most part, pet insurance is going to be a good idea if you have a pet, especially assuming that pet is going to have a long, full life and will need more expensive care as he or she gets older. If your pet becomes sick or gets hurt, your veterinary bills could run into the thousands of dollars and you care for him or her. Insurance can help you mitigate those costs.

How does pet insurance work?

With pet insurance, most plans will let you go to any veterinary clinic you want to; unlike human insurance, you're not limited to a specific doctor or clinic. However, you likely are going to have to pay the entire bill up front, at which time you'll be reimbursed by the insurance company for their portion of the bill.

For the most part, veterinary insurance does not cover all costs; instead, you share the costs with the insurance company. In other words, you pay your part of the bill (and the insurance company's part as well, up front), and then you are reimbursed for the part the insurance covers. You can expect to save roughly 50% on your pet's medical bills over the long haul. Many companies will also offer "multi pet" discounts, whereby if you have more than one pet and you insure all of them with the same insurance company, you'll get a discount on your coverage through lower premiums.

You do have to be careful to shop around, and to choose a reputable insurance company that's been around for a long time and that has served its customers well.

The Internet is a great place to begin to look for this type of insurance, because you can find customer complaints and laudatory comments, etc., about particular companies and the services they provide, as well as investigating the types of coverage and different policies they provide. (And although it's a good idea to check with your veterinarian as well, don't use him or her as your only source of information. Get honest, straightforward reviews from customers who have used these insurance companies themselves, so that you can choose the best one based upon completely unbiased information.)

What should you look for in a reputable pet insurance company?

There are several things you should look for with a pet insurance company. For example, you will want to choose a plan that's going to meet your needs. A discount insurance plan simply lets you pay an annual fee and then receive a discount for vet services. A comprehensive insurance plan is similar to a human health insurance plan, whereby you pay a co-pay and in some cases have a deductible for services rendered, at which time the insurance company will reimburse you for its part of the costs.

Make sure as well that you can choose the veterinarian you want to go to. Again, most pet insurance plans do allow this, but make sure before you buy into a particular plan that this is going to be the case.

There may be a waiting period in place, whereby a specific period of time has to go by between the time you implement the policy and the time it actually takes effect. Make sure you know what these are when you buy your policy, so that you don't take your pet into the vet assuming you're covered when you're not.

Check to make sure as well that any prescription needs are covered; many policies either don't cover prescription drugs for your pet, or don't include them in a standard policy, although you may often be able to include them in a policy that's somewhat more expensive.

In addition, there may be some exclusions with particular pet insurance policies, similar to human insurance policies. For example, hereditary defects, pre-existing conditions, and the like may be excluded from standard coverage, although you can usually get these things covered at additional cost.

As with human insurance, you're probably going to have to pay a deductible of some sort. Look for a plan that has a deductible that you can afford and that you find reasonable. However, remember that if you go with the smaller deductible, your premiums are going to be higher. It's a good idea to find a balance between the amount of deductible (an amount you are comfortable paying) and the cost of premiums.

Finally, make sure you check to see what if any insurance caps there are on the coverage you choose. Again, as with human insurance, there may be a "cap" on the overall amount of expense the insurance company will cover.

The right insurance coverage for your pet can help you make sure that your pet has a long, healthy life with all health insurance needs covered. At the same time, an insurance policy that's right for you can help you can breathe a sigh of relief because your out-of-pocket costs for veterinary visits, treatments and procedures are reduced. A win-win for everyone -- your pet included!


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    • Paulart profile image

      Paulart 6 years ago from 2510 Warren Avenue Cheyenne,Wyoming 82001

      Good information is given regarding reliable and affordable pet insurance.Thanks for sharing.

    • thevoice profile image

      thevoice 8 years ago from carthage ill

      terrific pet hub write thanks