Home, auto, health, life and now PET insurance! Although it has been around for a while, pet insurance is now becoming more common in the US market. This year the fear of poisoned food has really shown how vulnerable our pets are to disease and illness. With all the advances in veterinary medicine and the resulting cost the health care of a beloved pet can be as expensive as a child these days. With a comprehensive pet insurance plan in place you can base life-changing treatment decisions on your pet’s health rather than costs.
Pet insurance is available from a wide variety of sources with many options and coverage plans available. Just like your health insurance you can buy coverage for almost any level of protection you choose. There are plans for basic illness or injury expenses, deluxe plans to cover almost any type of illness, accident or injury and even routine care and examination plans. The market has become so popular and competitive that some plans even cover dental work, chiropractic care and acupuncture treatments.
The variety of pets covered can be as wide as today’s pet market. Dog and cat insurance coverage remains the mainstay of most company plans, with many companies now also offering Bird and Exotic Pet plans. So if you want to insure that parrot, iguana or pot-bellied pig you should be able to find a plan and insurance company that fits your needs.
Pet insurance has many similarities with our health insurance. There are coverage limits, conditions, exceptions to pre-existing conditions, deductibles, co-payments and lifetime amount limits. One important and beneficial difference is the choice of care provider. With pet insurance you can usually use any vet you want or have available. You do not have to choose from a ‘provider network’. also you don’t need to get anything pre-approved; you are free to take the necessary action to protect your pet’s health then submit your claim.
Another and not so beneficial difference is the out of pocket cost. Generally pet insurance plans pay you after the claim is made; you may have to pay the vet’s or carer’s bill before you get reimbursed.
Policies typically have deductibles, co-pays and lifetime limits. The reduction usually applies to any occurrence which may be an accident, injury or illness. Subsequent treatments for the same condition will not require another deductible. Typical deductibles range from $50 to $250. Most policies also have a co-pay percentage, this is the amount of the final covered cost that the insurance company will pay. The co-pays are usually 80% or 90%.
One important thing to watch out for is the benefit schedules. You want to avoid companies that have fixed benefit schedules. This means that they have set a price for certain procedures/treatments and will only allow that regardless of the actual payment. This can make a low deductible plan with a high co-pay actually cost you much more in the long run than a high deductible with a lower co-pay percentage.
Where to get pet insurance? An easy first step is to ask your current vet, they may have a plan they recommend or work with. But, don’t stop there, research the market on the internet. The difference in plans can be dramatic when it comes time to make a claim. Be sure to review the companies’ policies, exclusions and benefits as well as their history, reputation and financial standing.
Things to look for in pet insurance policies;
- No network of providers required
- No fixed benefit schedule
- Coverage for:
- diagnostic testing; MRI, Cat-scans, X-rays
- Specialists, Hospital, Cancer Treatments, Prescriptions
- After hours/emergency treatments
- Discount for multiple pets
- Claim processing time
- History and reputation of the company
Insuring your pet is a great idea and the many plans and options available make it easy and affordable to do. You can take comfort in having a valuable family member covered for injuries, illness, disease and even food poisoning that can happen at any age. After all animals are living beings and prone to health problems and accidents just like we do.
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