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Pet Insurance

Most animal lovers agree that pets are members of the family. Usually, pet owners will do anything to make sure their furry friends are healthy and happy. It's no surprise, then, that health care for a pet is important for a pet parent's peace of mind.

Unfortunately, providing pets with medical care from a licensed veterinarian can be expensive. This can be the case whether it is routine care, emergency care, or preventative care.

Pet insurance works to help in certain circumstances. Read on to learn more about your options when it comes to coverage options for pet health insurance.

Pet Insurance

Anyone who has had a beloved pet suffer from an illness or injury knows that the cost of veterinary services from providers can be quite expensive. Surgeries and exam fees can be thousands of dollars. Cancer treatments for a pet can easily cost upwards of $5,000, and treating congenital health issues can cost more than $20,000.

How Pet Insurance Can Help

The goal behind pet insurance is to provide coverage for a portion of your pet's vet bills. Having an illness plan or related wellness coverage from an insurance agency can help pet owners avoid "economic euthanasia." Economic euthanasia occurs when you can't afford treatment for your pet.

Pet insurance has become increasingly popular nationwide. Employers even offer enrollment with insurance providers for a pet plan as an optional employee benefit.

Pet insurance helps you manage unexpected veterinary bills for pet care. A pet insurance plan can help by reimbursing you for the cost of care up to the reimbursement level if your pet has an accident or becomes ill.

Although pets are often bona fide members of the family, they are viewed as property, not as people. For this reason, insurance law views pet insurance more like property insurance rather than health insurance.

Pet Insurance Coverage

Pet insurance costs are highly variable. A pet insurance quote can provide the best estimate as to what it will cost for the coverage you seek. The best pet insurance is the policy that covers your needs as a policyholder at a price that you are willing to pay.

The cost is determined by a number of factors. Pet insurance cost is impacted by:

  • The level of deductibles
  • Copayments
  • Premiums

It all depends on the policy you choose. Unlike with human health insurance, you'll usually need to pay any incurred veterinary bills in full upfront before seeking reimbursement from your pet insurance company.

Factors Impacting the Level of Coverage

Several factors about your pet affect the level of coverage you may seek to obtain. These include the following:

  • Type of pet and breed
  • Your pet's age, as some policies have an age limit
  • The number of pets you want to insure, as some policies offer a multi-pet discount
  • The type of exclusions in the policy
  • The annual limit selected for the policy
  • The type of plan coverage, including accident-only plans, wellness plans, illness coverage, dental cleanings, spaying, neutering, etc.

The level of coverage available to you will likely differ depending on your pet's breed. Certain breeds cost more to insure. For example, insurance for purebreds tends to cost more because some breeds are prone to hereditary health conditions. Age comes into play as well. Older pets are more expensive to insure.

When selecting a pet insurance policy, you can decide if you want a policy that covers accidents only, which involve motor vehicles and broken bones, or both accidents and illness, which includes conditions like arthritis, cancer, and colitis. Some plans will even cover wellness care. They will include routine visits and checkups, including annual exams, flea and tick treatments, and vaccinations.

Limitations on Pet Coverage

Pet insurance has some limitations. For example, pets with pre-existing conditions either won't qualify for pet insurance or the premiums will be prohibitively expensive. Like some human health insurance policies, pet insurance policies can have a waiting period. For this reason, you can't take out a pet insurance policy after finding out that your pet needs a costly procedure.

Waiting periods will vary by state. Generally, they are 24 to 48 hours for accidents and 14 days to one year for illnesses. Pet insurance also has limits for maximum payouts, which may be determined per incident, per year, or over the life of the policy.

Hereditary Conditions and Congenital Conditions

A hereditary disorder and congenital conditions are separate issues. A congenital disorder or congenital condition is a health condition that either develops during the earliest days of a puppy or kitten's life or is present at birth. Common congenital conditions include hip dysplasia, congenital heart disease, and liver disease.

A hereditary disorder, on the other hand, is a condition that is passed down from a parent and manifests later in the pet's life. Both hereditary disorders and congenital conditions are covered by pet insurance plans. You can ask the insurer whether the particular pet insurance covers such conditions for your specific situation or whether such coverage is an add-on.

Is Pet Insurance Worth the Cost?

Determining whether to purchase cat insurance or dog insurance is an individual decision. It can be difficult to predict whether it's cost-effective for you to pay pet insurance premiums. In many ways, it's a gamble.

You may end up having a relatively healthy pet, and the cost you pay out of pocket for vet bills is ultimately less than you would have paid in pet insurance premiums. However, if you have a pet who ends up having a costly condition, illness, or accident, it may have been worth it to pay for pet insurance over the years.

It makes the most sense to invest in pet insurance while your pet is still young and the premiums cost less, as you'll be covered for any extraordinary health expenses that could arise during the pet's lifetime. 

An alternative to formal pet insurance is to use the funds you would have paid towards insurance premiums and deposit them into a pet "emergency fund." You would use these funds for veterinary care or unexpected, extraordinary expenses. In a sense, you become your own insurer, an option to consider.

Get Legal Help With Pet Insurance

Insurance issues can be complex, and there are many options available. Occasionally, legal problems arise with insurance, such as denial of a claim or coverage. If you have legal questions about pet insurance, you may want to consider speaking with an experienced lawyer practicing insurance law.

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