You never know when the unexpected will strike! Approximately one in three dogs and cats must visit the vet due to illness or accident every year. Today diagnostic, medical and surgical procedures unheard of a few years ago are now commonplace in veterinary practice. Unfortunately, few of us are aware of the true cost of medical or surgical procedures. Our elation in finding that our 15 year old, much loved pet can have the same sophisticated MRI procedure as our grandmother had following a minor stroke, quickly turns to despair when a bill of several hundred dollars for the diagnostic procedure alone is presented. These are the times when pet health insurance makes sense.
What does pet health insurance cover?
Pet health insurance is designed primarily to cover emergency situations. Frequently vets and owners have to decide on alternative diagnostic and treatment plans solely because of costs involved. When an owner has pet health insurance coverage, these types of concerns become a thing of the past.
However, do not think that insuring your dog will provide an inexhaustible source of payment for every possible veterinary expenditure. Few policies today cover routine vaccinations and general "maintenance" health care such as dental cleanings. The aim of pet health insurance is to provide for the unexpected expenses such as trauma and debilitating disease of advanced age. In many cases the cost of treatment can run to several hundred to a few thousand dollars.
How do I find out about pet health insurance?
Many well known companies today offer pet health insurance policies and in addition there are specialist pet insurers. Most companies allow premiums to be paid monthly or yearly.
How does pet health insurance work?
The principle is similar to our own health insurance plans. Different levels of coverage are available for different premiums. Generally it is cheaper to start insuring when your pet is young and healthy than when older and more prone to illness. Premiums can be paid monthly, quarterly or annually and many companies offer discounts for direct deposits or multiple pets. There is usually a co-payment or deductible amount to pay on each condition and some companies also charge a percentage of the total cost of treatment if the pet is above a certain age. Many policies have the premium rate linked to the age when first insured. Premiums and the deductible tend to increase as the pet gets older.
Is there any way I can compare premiums?
There are several online sites that allow you to compare pet insurance rates and read reviews by policy owners.
Do any companies offer a comprehensive policy?
Few companies cover routine health care such as neutering and dental care. Each company offers different levels of offerings that correspond to different price premiums.
What other factors affect premiums?
Certain breeds are more prone to certain medical condition and diseases.. For example, skin conditions are extremely common in certain breeds. Insurance companies are aware of these conditions and premiums are set accordingly. Be sure to thoroughly discuss your pet's breed and predisposed conditions and what exactly will be covered in the event one of these diseases develops.
Does this mean that when I renew the policy the premium is likely to be increased or coverage restricted because of a diagnosed condition?
This will vary from policy to policy and company to company. We advise that you carefully evaluate what will or will not be covered and what restrictions or premium increases you can expect.
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