Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pet Health Insurance 101

September is national Pet Insurance Month, making it a perfect time to discuss your options as a pet owner.

If you're reading this, then your dog or cat is probably a beloved member of your family and you want the best for them. If you want to provide your pet with high quality healthcare throughout his or her life, pet health insurance deserves a good look. And since you can't buy health insurance for your dog or cat when  you really need it most, in an emergency, now is the time to examine the options that could save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Your Options
There are more and more pet health insurance options available to consumers each day. And like human health insurance, pet insurance coverage can vary widely. Classic pet health insurance is meant to cover expensive, unplanned events. There are monthly premiums and a variety of deductible choices, different coverage levels, co-pays and caps that limit the total yearly or lifelong payouts. These policies may exclude older dogs, certain breeds, genetic conditions and pre-existing conditions. Fortunately, there are often discounts for covering multiple pets from the same household.

Basic types of pet health insurance include:

  • wellness (preventative services like vaccines, check-ups, blood tests at set fee)
  • prescription drug
  • cancer treatment
  • alternative therapies
  • accidental death. 
There is also a wide range of variations on these basic coverage types. From dental care and catastrophic care to acupuncture and lost pet recovery, pet health insurance options are out there for the taking. Of course, the costs for these plans vary significantly. 

Veterinarian Tim Banker believes that although pet healthcare can effectively mitigate high-tech veterinary expenses, it is underutilized. One possible reason is the persistence of stories about insurance companies that fail to provide expected coverage. The minutia of paperwork involved in properly filing claims can result in missing payments. The good news is that vet offices are becoming more adept at properly filing these claims on their clients' behalf. 

Here are our recommendations for finding the right care for your pet:

1. Consider your pet's health, age, predisposition to accidents and risk of inherited diseases to help determine what level of coverage you will need.

2. Get price quotes from each company that appears to offer the coverage your pet requires. Here are a few companies to consider:

AKC Pet Healthcare Plan, ASPCA Pet Health Insurance, Embrace Pet Insurance, Pet Assure Corporation, PetFirst Healthcare, PetHealth, Inc., Petplan USA, Pets Best Insurance, PurinaCare, Trupanion Pet Insurance,Veterinary Pet Insurance

3. Ask your veterinarian which pet health insurance s/he recommends.

4. If your dog is diagnosed with a condition, make sure to renew coverage on time each year so it isn't excluded as a pre-existing condition. 

With some careful pet health insurance research and planning, you and your pet can celebrate many happy birthdays together. 


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