Pet insurance is like health insurance for your pets. It covers veterinary medical treatment and/or hospitalization for injury and illness to pets. Pet insurance is not like life insurance. It does not cover the pet's life. (For more information about standard features, click here.)
You can get pet insurance for a wide range of pets including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, pot-bellied pigs, snakes and birds etc.
Pet insurance has become more popular in the past few years as veterinary costs have increased due to increasingly sophisticated technology and procedures.
Whether it is worth your while to purchase a Pet Insurance Policy depends on your circumstances and what policies are available. For example:
- What you would normally spend on your pet. For instance, if you would be willing to spend whatever it takes to keep your pet alive, pet insurance may be worthwhile. If you can afford the cost, then the coverage may not be worthwhile.
- What type of breed you have. Certain breeds are prone to illnesses. It may be advisable to purchase pet insurance for them if available. (NOTE: Check the policy you are considering to see what illnesses, if any, are excluded because of the pet's breed.)
- The coverage and how the company applies it.
As an alternative: Consider setting up a savings fund for your pet or making extra savings deposits into your savings account to make sure you have the cash to pay for your pet's care if needed.
If you are interested in learning more about pet insurance, check the pet insurance policies available in your state. Check with your State Insurance Department for companies that write pet insurance in your state. The largest pet insurance companies are:
- ASPCA Pet Health Insurance, www.ASPCApetinsurance .com tel.: 888. 861.9092
- 24Petwatch Quick Care, www.24petwatch.com tel.: 888.897.7387 (formerly PetCare Pet Insurance)
- PetsHealthCarePlan www.PetsHealthPlan.com tel. 800.807.6724
- Trupanion, www.TrupanionPetInsurance.com tel. 800.569.7913
- VPI (Veterinary Pet Insurance) www.PetInsurance.com tel.: 800.872.7387
- For members of the North American Pet Health Insurance Association, click here .
We have not had experiences with any of these companies. If you do, please tell us about your experience by e mail to: Survivorship A to Z.
NOTE: Consumer Reports Money Adviser did an analysis in 2010 and found that it is not worthwhile to pay extra for wellness care that covers items such as an annual checkup. Instead, keeping your pet healthy can help minimize vet costs. This includes spaying or neutering your animals, getting annual checkups and making sure vaccinations are up to date. If your animals are exposed to ticks, consider using a tick repellent during tick season.
Before buying a pet insurance policy:
- Check the policy terms, including how the company pays claims. For example,
- Some policies pay according to a set schedule of benefits instead of your actual cost.
- Some policies pay a percentage of what the insurer considersto be "usual and customary" fees - or a percentage of the veternarian's actual bill.
- If payments are based on actual bills, check for any eceptions in the fine print.
- What does the policy cover?
- It is not unusual for a policy to start with a "blackout" period during which nothing is covered. Many do not cover pre-existing health issues, congential or inborn conditions, behavioral issues or pregnancy costs.
- What deductibles are there?. Are the deductibles annual, per visit or per incident?
- Is there a maximum that the policy pays on a per year or per incident basis?
- When you renew the policy, what happens?
- Do premiums go up based on the age of your pet, veterinary inflation or possibly the claims filed for your pet?
- If the pet develops a chronic condition while insured, will it be covered when you renew the policy or will it be considered to be a pre-existing condition and therefore not included in the next year?
- Consider the alternative of a discount wellness plan. For example, The Pet Hospital is a national chain of pet-care facilities. www.banfield.net tel.: 866.277.7387. (We have not had experience with this group. If you do, please tell us about your experiences by email to: Survivorship A to Z)
For more information:
NOTE: Older pets page the age of 7 or 10 years old may not be eligible for a new policy. If you are interested in insuring your pet, consider getting a policy while the pet is younger. You may be subject to higher premiums when you renew as the pet ages.