Guide to Pet Health Insurance

Nothing is quite as exciting as bringing home a new pet. Once you’ve found the breed you want and have decided on a name, introducing your pet to your home is fun, if not a bit chaotic. However, there are a few things to keep in mind before giving an animal a permanent place to live.

A new pet will most likely need a cage or carrier, food and water dish, and play toys for entertainment when you’re not around. Also, if you get your new cat or a dog as a kitten or puppy, there may likely be first-time veterinary visits and immunizations to think about, which can be costly. It’s a good idea in the pre-planning stages to secure a health care plan for your pet by enrolling in pet health insurance.

Down the road, your pet may need medication when sick or injured, and medical care for surgery or other health conditions as your dog or cat ages. These injuries and illnesses often pop up without warning, which is why insurance is a good way to go. Rather than spending hundreds or thousands of dollars out of pocket for trips to the veterinarian, you can find coverage through pet health insurance.

Making sure your pet has proper coverage is such an important topic that September is Pet Health Insurance Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness about its advantages and benefits. This a great time to invest in the health of your pet. Whether you’re just starting out and gathering information or ready to apply for coverage, this guide will answer a few of the basics regarding the who, what, and whys of the process.

What Is Pet Health Insurance?

Pet health insurance is not that much different than renter’s insurance or insurance for your car. Since a pet is considered a person’s property (or in more common situations, just like family), insurance is a way to make sure there’s adequate coverage if your pet becomes ill or is injured.

It allows pet owners to protect themselves against unexpected veterinary costs and additional care, which can put a financial strain on any situation. The best pet insurance allows a veterinarian to use the most advanced types of treatments to help your pet without limitations due to the cost being too high.

Insurance plans can work within a monthly budget rather than having to pay a high fee all at one time for x-rays, visits, medications, etc. Dog health insurance, specifically, can provide coverage for incidents like ear infections, bite wounds, or if your pup swallows something on accident. Think about all the things your dog chews, eats, and destroys on any given day. In most cases, it’s harmless, but insurance is necessary for when it isn’t.

For felines, cat health insurance is important, even if your kitty doesn’t seem as rowdy as a canine. Your cat may suffer allergies, illnesses, and other conditions which you can’t control. Cat insurance plans can also provide coverage for a lost recovery tag.

You never know what situation may arise where you will need coverage for the medical care of your pet. It’s better to have a plan in place before this occurs to minimize stress of the unknown.

Who Provides Pet Insurance?

More and more pet owners are getting insurance for their pets, so it’s becoming more common, even among recognized brands like Progressive and Nationwide. In fact, according to CNBC article, over $870 million was spent on pet insurance in 2014. It’s more than a trend and is turning into a necessity. In fact, many employers are starting to offer pet health insurance as part of their company benefits.

Ask your current insurance agent or human resources representative what your options may be when it comes to pet health coverage. There may be benefits there you never knew about before. With costs starting as low as $10 a month for pet health insurance, it seems like a small price to pay for the health and well-being of your furry friend. When it comes down to needing veterinary attention, budgeting per month for insurance sounds like the smarter route than the hefty bill that may come as the result of one emergency visit.

If unsure of how it might fully benefit you, don’t be afraid to ask questions. You can receive a free quote from insurance providers and compare policies. Don’t assume certain procedures or checkups are automatically covered because every policy is different. Also, ask about “add-ons” for your pet to see if a policy can accommodate any special needs. The more you research, the more confident you’ll feel in your decision.

What Does Pet Health Insurance Cover?

Like any other insurance, there are different pet health policies which have different tiers of coverage. Each plan can be customized based on factors like the breed and age of your pet. The three main coverage categories include accident, illness, and wellness plans.

Accident insurance is coverage for unexpected injuries. If your pet is hit by a car, gets into a fight, or is injured, this insurance will protect them. Illness coverage, on the other hand, treats sickness or diseases your pet experiences. If your pet develops stomach problems, has a heart condition, or tests positive for cancer, there are policies that come in play to address these needs.

Finally, there is wellness coverage, which covers any preventive care including vaccinations, dental care, and other types of routine checkups. As the name suggests, wellness insurance is to make sure your pet is living as healthy a life as it possibly can.

No matter which insurance company you choose, make sure you understand the full scope of coverage included and how often you need to renew your policy. Dog insurance may differ in eligibility requirements than cat insurance, so it’s best to clarify any areas that may seem vague. Have all your pet’s medical information handy, as most likely a policy will be built around the breed, age, and current condition of your pet.

Other benefits of pet health insurance may include specialty coverage. This may help cover the cost of emergency treatment by a veterinarian when traveling with your pet, if your pet damages someone else’s property, and limited coverage for costs to advertise if your pet is lost. Read through your policy thoroughly and make sure are aware of all coverage. You don’t want to be surprised with a bill after you’ve already taken your pet in to receive treatment.

We insure the things most important to our daily lives – our homes, our cars, our own health. Why we wouldn’t we insure our pets? As an extension of our families, pets mean a lot to us and we should make it an absolute that they are getting the care they need.

What to Consider When Choosing Coverage

Since there are so many options when it comes to pet health insurance, there are several items to consider when choosing a plan. Dogs and cats still remain the top pets that are covered, which means certain insurance companies will only cover these two species. If you have a reptile, hamster, rabbit, bird or other type of pet, make sure your animal qualifies as a “pet” under the provided coverage.

Your pet’s breed needs to be considered when choosing a plan. Different breeds have a history of various types of diseases and health conditions that could affect coverage or choices you have. Typically, pet insurance will cover treatment for most illnesses and diseases, including cancer, as well as surgery, laboratory work like x-rays and MRI scans, and medications.

If you take your pet for acupuncture or other homeopathic therapies, check first with your policy to make sure there is coverage. If there isn’t any for your standard policy, ask if adding it on for a fee is a possibility.

Keep in mind most pet insurance will not cover procedures considered cosmetic, such as declawing or ear cropping. In certain cases, your veterinarian might consider these things a medical necessity, in which case, you’ll want to confirm with your insurance company.

Why You Should Get Pet Health Insurance

The value of having your pet medically insured far outweighs the minimal cost of coverage every month. It’s nice to think our pets will never be injured or fall ill, but the reality is, at some point in their lives, they will. You want to keep them protected as much as you can.

When this happens, it may be something minor which doesn’t prove too costly or it could be a major surgery you simply can’t afford. It’s not a fun situation to be in when facing that decision, but if properly insured, it can be a much simpler one.

Investing in any kind of insurance plan does take research and thought. Don’t be afraid to shop around for quotes and compare pricing. The point is to get coverage for your pet that will prove to be most beneficial over the long-term.

There are several reasons why there is a growing number of people who are choosing to get pet insurance. First, it allows pet owners to pick their own veterinarian. This differs from health insurance plans, which may require you choose an in-network health care provider depending on your plan. Pet insurance policies remain open so you can get care from the veterinary office closest to you or the one most convenient.

Second, all breeds and ages of pets can be insured. While it’s better to obtain insurance sooner rather than later to avoid higher premium costs, you can still find a policy that fits your needs. For older pets, most policies will not accept pre-existing conditions, unless hereditary, but there is no discrimination against age. An insurance representative will let you know if your pet qualifies for a coverage plan.

Third, and maybe the most important reason, is that pet health insurance significantly cuts costs. It allows pet owners to breathe a little easier whenever a visit to the veterinarian is scheduled or an operation is needed. These expenses can quickly add up, especially when piled onto the ongoing costs it takes to care for your pet on a daily basis, and may drain any savings you have or run up your credit card. No one wants to have to make a decision for their pet based off expense.

Insure Your Pets Today

The monthly payment to cover a pet insurance cost is worth the peace of mind knowing your pet’s health is covered. Rather than worry about untimely expenses, you can take your pet in for care as soon as they need it.

With many insurance plans like PetPlan and Trupanion, you’ll also receive other benefits like wellness checkups and free pet care information. Check with your provider to see what is included with the policy and the type of pet community they have online. Learn from other pet owners with regards to frequently asked questions and advice for the care of your pet, especially if you are a first-time pet owner.

The best way to make sure you are getting the most value from your pet health insurance is to make a checklist to look at different policies side by side and see which will benefit your pet most at the least expensive cost. When writing down all the pros and cons of each plan, you will get a solid idea of which will work best for you.

We can never predict the future, but we can plan for it. With pet health insurance, you can feel comfortable knowing your pet is in good hands. You now the who, what, and why of pet health insurance, the only question left is when are you going to get it?

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