Pet Tips

Pet Insurance – Pet tip 135

Every pet owner knows that keeping an animal can be expensive. Between their food, their toys, and their annual check ups, pets can rack up some major bills. The fact is that these costs come part and parcel with having a cat or dog, and most pet owners will pay them gladly in exchange for the love and companionship their animals give in return. But what about when those costs exceed what you expected? What happens when your pet needs to see the veterinarian outside of his or her annual exam? Even the most responsible pet owners can find themselves short of funds when an emergency arises. All too often it is finances alone that stand between sick or injured pets and the veterinary care they so desperately need. Fortunately for all those responsible pet owners out there, it is possible to prepare even for the worst case scenarios. Pet insurance is quickly becoming a practical financial solution for paying those unexpected veterinary fees.

Pet insurance works just like your own dental plan; while you are responsible for paying the veterinarian at the time of treatment, the insurance company will reimburse you once they receive all the necessary claim forms. The claim forms generally include a small portion to be filled out by you, the pet owner, and a section for the veterinary clinic to explain which treatments and medications your animal received and why. Like other forms of insurance, there are deductibles and premiums which vary depending on the company you choose and the level of coverage you purchase for your pet.

So how do you choose which pet insurance company is right for you? Well, the first thing to determine is whether or not pet insurance makes sense at all for you and your pet. Many companies have exclusions for older pets, and will also not cover the costs of any pre-existing conditions. What this means, is that the ideal pet insurance candidate is a young, healthy animal. It is suggested that owners interested purchasing pet insurance do so while their animal is still a young puppy or kitten. The sooner an animal is insured, the less likely they are to have any future health problems excluded from their coverage. Another factor to consider, especially in dogs, is whether or not there are any hereditary conditions associated with your pet’s breed. Pet insurance companies will have a list of any breed-related problems they exclude from their coverage.

If after considering all of these factors, pet insurance seems like a good option, then it is time to compare the nitty gritty details between insurance providers to make sure you find the one best suited to your pet’s needs. In Canada there are only a handful of major pet insurance companies, and you should be able to get information on most of them from your local veterinary clinic. While vet clinics do not sell insurance, they are certainly advocates of it, and usually carry a few pamphlets and sometimes even the necessary registration forms. There is not necessarily any one company which is ‘better’ than the rest, because it will all depend on your specific pet and the kind of coverage you’re interested in.

The cost of coverage varies tremendously with the type of plan you sign up for, and can run anywhere from ten to a hundred dollars per month. The most basic plans will cover the costs of accidents (like being hit by a car) and some common illnesses like eye and ear infections. Top of the line coverage can also cover routine preventive care (such as vaccinations and neuters/spays) and even alternative therapies like acupuncture and hydrotherapy. Many plans will also cover the costs of cremation or burial of a pet, and include extra coverage upon accidental death.

All of this might seem overwhelming, and might not be the sort of thing you want to be thinking about when you first bring home a new pet, but the whole idea behind pet insurance is to help ease your mind. When your pet is sick or injured, the last thing you want to be worrying about is how you’re going to pay the bills. Having an insurance policy in place for your pet will help you to relax during a crisis, and focus on more important things than money—namely, your pet’s health and well-being.

By Alison Norwich – writer

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