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Pet Insurance

The cost of pet health care is soaring. With technological advances, increasingly sophisticated diagnostics and treatments are available for pets, and previously fatal conditions can now be successfully treated. If you are the type of pet owner who would go to the ends of the earth for your pet, then you should consider pet insurance to protect yourself from potentially huge and unexpected expenses. Even if you have a more pragmatic approach to pet care and would put your pet down if health care costs rose too high, pet insurance can protect you from third party liability claims if your pet injures someone, damages property or causes an accident.

There are many different types of pet insurance policies available. You can choose from third party coverage only, accident only or add optional coverage for routine health care, including vaccinations, annual examinations, spaying and neutering. Many plans will cover illnesses, accidents and injuries, surgeries, diagnostics, prescription medicines and hospitalizations. Some will also cover specialist care and alternative treatments such as chiropractic and acupuncture. Most pet insurance policies will not cover pre-existing and hereditary conditions. However a few policies will cover behavioural conditions, pregnancies, certain hereditary conditions and burial or cremation. Some owners choose to start insuring their pets when they are young before they develop health conditions or have accidents. The premiums for older animals are higher, and some insurers will not offer new coverage to an older pet. ‘Mutts’ are cheaper to insure than pure breeds.

Pet insurance policies vary in the cost of premiums, deductibles, co-pays (the amount you must pay out of pocket at the time of treatment) and caps (per incident, per year or for the animal’s lifetime). Compare the coverage offered by different pet insurance plans to check what is excluded and find a plan that fits the needs of your pet. Plans usually cover between 50% and 90% of treatment costs. This can be calculated in one of two ways: as a percentage of the veterinarian’s bill or as a percentage of a set benefit schedule, which limits the amount covered per treatment. Some plans allow you to go to any licensed veterinarian while others provide a list of approved vets. Other insurers offer discounts for multiple pets. You can also choose a high deductible to keep the costs of premiums down. Make sure the pet insurance company is licensed by your state.

Pet insurance can be a cost effective way to give peace of mind and protection against the high costs of pet health care and third party claims.