Things to Watch out for When Looking for Pet Insurance

by S.A. Holt

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Pet insurance has been around for a long time, but in recent years it has gained in popularity. Veterinary medicine can extend your pet’s life and treat diseases that would have been a death sentence as little as five years ago, but the price tag for cancer and other catastrophic treatments is prohibitive without insurance. If you think that pet insurance might be a good idea, there are some things you should keep in mind.

In many ways, pet insurance mirrors human insurance. There are large national carriers as well as smaller local providers. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. There may even be coverage available from your local Humane Society.  The key is to know what you are looking for.

Is it Important to Keep Your Current Veterinarian?

Do you want to keep a specific veterinarian? If so, an HMO type of plan will probably have a list of approved veterinarians to choose from, so make sure that your veterinarian is on it before you sign up.  Your veterinarian may even participate in a great local plan, so ask him for his advice and recommendations.

Be Careful of Exclusions

Exclusions for hereditary defects are very common in pet insurance policies.  If the breed you are trying to insure has a history of hereditary illness, check any insurer you are considering for their policy on that illness.  Pre-existing conditions are also usually excluded, so be careful. With some policies, even a phone call to the vet to discuss a condition can be considered a diagnosis and grounds for exclusion as a pre-existing condition.

Wellness Considerations

Comprehensive policies will sometimes have wellness coverage that can include yearly inoculations, teeth cleaning, and heartworm testing. Even if a policy you are considering does not include this level of wellness care, it might be worth the cost of adding it as a rider to the policy.

Check Limits

Pet health insurance policies will have limits on coverage. These limits can be applied to the incident or per year and will vary from procedure to procedure. There will also be a provision in the policy for the maximum payout allowed.

Premiums and Deductibles

Premiums for pet health coverage are based on age and are very limited for animals over the age of eight. There are also deductibles, just like human insurance, and as you would expect, the higher the deductible, the lower the premium.

Other Considerations

Some policies include prescription coverage, discounts for additional pets, neutering and spaying, hospitalization, nail trimming, and a host of other options. It is important to evaluate the features that are important to you as well as how much you have available to spend.

How Does Payment Work?

Payouts can be handled in one of two ways. Either the policy will require that you pay the bills and submit a claim for reimbursement, or the payment will be made from the insurance company to your veterinarian directly. If it is going to be difficult for you to handle paying the money up front, be careful to understand the terms of the policy before you sign.

For many of us, our pets are part of our family, and it is only natural to want to keep them healthy and happy for as long as we can.  Pet insurance can be a great way to protect your pets in the event of a major illness.  A little thought and research can help you pick the type of coverage that will work best for both you and your pet.

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