What Exactly is Pet Insurance?

Most dog owners want the absolute best for their furbabies. Unfortunately, this isn’t always an easy thing to accomplish, especially when they get hurt or sick. According to the Insurance Information Institute, almost 80 million American households have pets. With that many pet owners, it became obvious that there was a need for insurance to cover these four-legged family members and their health care. So insurers responded accordingly. But is pet insurance really useful or does it just help the insurers get richer? Let’s take a look.

What Is Covered Under a Pet Insurance Plan?

Just like there isn’t a one-size-fits-all policy for people, the same is true for pet insurance. Different pet owners will have different needs, so there are multiple types of policies available. In order to have all of your needs met, you will need to choose coverage that suits you.

For instance, you may want a basic pet insurance policy just to cover vet bills that get out of control. Or, you may prefer a comprehensive plan that covers a wide range of things including veterinarian fees, medication, surgery, imaging like MRIs, kennel fees, death, and loss of your pet if it strays or gets stolen. However, you should be aware that most plans operate on a reimbursement basis so you will still have to pay your veterinarian in full then wait for a refund from your pet insurer.

Keep in mind that pet insurance is basically designed to cover your pet against injury, illness, and death. It does not cover injuries to other people caused by your pet. So if your dog bites someone while you’re out for a walk, a pet insurance policy would provide no coverage. For situations like this, you would need to file a claim under the liability on your homeowner or renter’s insurance.

Who Should Buy Pet Insurance?

Unexpected vet bills can easily amount to hundreds or thousands of dollars. Because of this, some pet owners go against their better judgment and delay taking their animals to the vet. If you don’t have savings to use in the event of an emergency, pet insurance may be a good investment since it can make an otherwise unaffordable trip to the vet possible without breaking the bank.

What exactly is Pet Insurance?While some people rarely take their pets to an animal clinic more than once a year for shots, plenty of animals wind up at the veterinarian much more often. Pet owners who have furbabies with chronic or recurring health issues may find that a pet insurance policy helps save them money on their frequent trips to the vet (if your pet has a preexisting condition, check with the insurer before you buy a policy in case they refuse coverage based on your pet’s current health status).

On the other hand, if you have a sizeable savings account and young, healthy pets that mostly stay in the house, pet insurance might be an unnecessary expense for you. If your pet is only visiting the veterinarian once or twice a year for checkups, the money you would spend on pet insurance premiums might be better off put into a savings account where it can gain interest and be accessible for a variety of emergencies.

Does My Pet Qualify for Pet Insurance?

While cat and dog owners should be able to find insurance with ease, owners of non-traditional pets may be limited in options for coverage. At the present time, most insurers only cover cats and dogs. The one exception is Nationwide, who also offers coverage for rabbits, birds, turtles, snakes, and a few other animals.

Another point to consider is your pet’s age. Even though you hope Fido sticks around for a few decades, it may be difficult to get pet insurance for him if he’s already seen his fifteenth birthday. The majority of pet insurers will cover pets from 8 weeks to fifteen years old. There are a few companies that offer senior pet insurance, but the coverage may be more limited and the premiums will be higher. So if you have an aging pet, it’s a good idea to get pet insurance sooner rather than later when it will be more costly.

Where Can I Buy Pet Insurance?

The fastest and easiest way to buy a pet insurance policy is online. A quick Google search for pet insurance will bring up pages of results. Currently, there are ten major pet insurers. To be sure you are getting the best possible policy for both you and your pet, you should compare policies and rates for at least two or three different companies and read all the fine print. Here’s a list of the major pet insurance carriers to help you get started:

  • Embrace
  • Healthy Paws
  • Nationwide
  • PetAssure
  • PetFirst
  • Petplan
  • PetPremium
  • PetsBest
  • Trupanion
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