Why Does Your Pet Need Health Insurance?

The real question is to be prepared for the worst. You need pet health insurance and we hope you never have to use it. Having pet health insurance and not needing it is much better than needing it and not having it.

Molly Bee was a very cute, lovable and absolutely wonderful West Highland Terrier. When she came into my life at 12 weeks, I thought of the best for her ever since I got her from a reputable AKC breeder. He had no way of knowing what awaited him. I wasn’t ready for the thousands of dollars I would have wasted trying to save his life.

Molly Bee developed an inherited condition that shut down her liver. It was so devastating that our good vet told me the test numbers were higher than he had ever seen. I prayed (and paid) until I could not afford to pray and pay any more. Molly Bee had to be put to sleep when she was just 18 months old. I was devastated and spent thousands of dollars. Remembering the pet health insurance brochure I read in his doctor’s office, I swore never to take out pet health insurance again.

Below are six helpful tips on what you need to know about this topic. Do not forget: Having pet health insurance and not needing it is much better than needing it and not having it.

Most people do not consider the breed of their pet, its temperament, whether this breed leads an active or sedentary lifestyle and how they live, and whether children or other animals, both wild and domestic, may interact with their pets. Young children can pose a real danger, and the Rottweiler that lives down the street or the Coyote in the outdoor park can create a $1,000 vet bill with one bite of your Jack Russell Terrier.

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1. Be sure to read the brochure!

Just like health insurance for people, there are all kinds of plans to fit your budget. Most pet health insurance plans offer 80% coverage (20% exemption or maybe a $100 initial treatment threshold), which can increase with your monthly premiums. For around $12.95 per month, you can insure your pet against most accidents and the costs associated with treating it in an emergency. It’s probably better to pay for routine pet health care, vaccinations and the like as you go or pay out of pocket.

2. When does coverage start?

There will usually be a waiting period of 14 to 30 days before your pet health insurance kicks in. Make sure your vet has well documented your pet’s health during their recent visit so that no pre-existing conditions can be said to exist (or that condition has been waived or insured). Right after the veterinarian visit is a good time to purchase pet health insurance.

3. Can I choose my own veterinarian?

Most plans allow you to choose your own pet healthcare provider, especially in an emergency. I suggest you talk to your veterinarian about what insurance programs they accept for routine or regular and emergency pet health care.

4.6 million dogs and 6 million cats are diagnosed with cancer each year. Will my insurance cover these costs as well?

Be sure to read through your pet health insurance plan to see what is and isn’t covered. Often times, your insurance policy will allow you to add certain coverage for additional premiums. Contact your carrier for more information.

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5. Are there age requirements or restrictions for pet health insurance?

Yes, most plans do not cover the first eight to twelve weeks of your pet’s life. Some plans are limited to pets up to 12 years old (depending on your pet’s age at the time of insurance purchase) and have other limits based on your pet’s breed. For example, Great Danes generally do not live beyond the age of 8. And I’ve had cats that lived to be 20! Most policies impose age and/or gender restrictions on them.

6. But I have more than one pet! Can I save money by insuring them all?

Yes, most plans offer a discount (usually 10% per pet) when you insure your entire “family”.

In closing, you need to carefully consider all health insurance options for your pets. Not having any insurance is simply irresponsible. If your pet needs emergency care and you cannot afford it, contact your local humane association or ASPCA for assistance.

Remember that pet health insurance doesn’t have to be expensive, is not limited to a single veterinarian, is not complicated to use, covers general care or check-ups, and can be applied for online!

In any case, we will be happy to answer any questions you may have about this important decision. Send us an email or comment on this article and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

About Lily Hammond

I have been working as an insurance consultant in my own insurance agency since 1998. Because I've been doing this for so long, I know every detail and I'm here to help you. You can find my e-mail address and work phone on the contact page.

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