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Home > Pet News and Articles > Insurance Offers Peace of Mind

Insurance Offers Peace of Mind
Article By: Glenn Redmond

I have always had a problem with insurance. You pay your money and everything is fine as long as you never use the service. To me, it's like getting money for nothing. Nowadays, you have to carry insurance for everything. House insurance, car insurance, business insurance, life insurance, medical insurance, loan insurance. It just goes on and on. I have to carry insurance just in case an uninvited sales person selling insurance slips and falls on my property. Go figure. I pay over $7000 per year for coverage just in case something happens. I could take early retirement if I could stash that cash away in a savings account every year. Oh well, no rest for the wicked I guess.

In 1982, the insurance industry penetrated the pet market, offering basic policies for cats and dogs. The industry has grown immensely in 25 years as more and more pet owners, who would do anything to save their pets, purchase policies to guard against the unthinkable - not having the funds for emergency pet care.

A survey of 1 200 Canadian and U.S. pet owners showed that 67% reported visiting their pet's veterinarian more frequently than their own physician. An average pet owner should budget roughly $350 annually for routine health care such as check ups, vaccinations, flea control, and dental care, certainly doable in most people's budget. With injury and long term illness however, the price tag rises dramatically. Veterinary hip replacement surgery can cost $3 000; Cancer treatment - $10 000. Companion animals are now family members and advanced technology, once exclusive to human health care, is now available for our pets. It doesn't come cheap. Many people can not afford emergency health care, often leading to the agonizing decision of euthanasia. This is where pet insurance comes in. Unlike most insurance policies veterinary insurance is something you purchase to use; your policy does not increase because of claims and your coverage is guaranteed to be renewed every year.

What Does it Cover and Cost

Policies range from accident coverage only to champion plans which cover many annual routine costs as well as many one time costs such as microchips and spaying or neutering. The most common plan is accident/illness coverage which covers things such as burns, motor vehicle accidents, broken bones, seizures, eye and ear infections, just to name a few. Some policy holders will pay up to $2 000 per accident or illness others will give you a $20 000 lifetime limit with no restrictions per year or incident. Deductibles range from $50-$250 per claim. This type of coverage costs between $22-$34 monthly for a dog and $16-$24 for a cat. The aforementioned champion plans dip into your pocket book for about $80 a month for a dog and $45 for your feline. Most policies do not cover pre-existing conditions or hip-dysplasia. The companies say the best time to insure your pet is before they develop any health problems. Once insured you are completely covered if your pet develops an illness anytime in the future.

Picking the Right Plan

As with any insurance policy, it is essential to read and understand what you are buying and know exactly what is covered and more importantly - what is not. Consider these tips before signing on the dotted line.

1) Ask the company how long they have been in the pet insurance business. Only deal with established companies that have been in the market at least a few years.

2) Pay particular attention to what is not covered in your policy, so there are no misunderstandings or disappointments in the future

3) Ensure your chosen veterinarian accepts pet insurance and that they have no trouble dealing with your chosen insurer.

4) Make sure the insurance company allows you to select your own veterinarian, and allows the vet facility to establish its own fee structure.

5) Ensure that the deductible on your policy is reasonable and affordable.

6) Inquire as to what the timeline is for claim reimbursements

7) Ask if there are any changes to the policy as your pet ages.

8) Ask if there is a waiting period before coverage begins once you have signed on.

I can't really find anything negative to say about pet insurance. The fact that it is designed to be used alleviates the problem that I have with most other insurance policies. In the face of rising costs for vet care, the monthly premiums are affordable for most and could certainly save a lot of heartache and bankruptcy in the case of an emergency. Anyone who's ever been in the emergency room trying to balance their pet's life against their pocket book would definitely agree.

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