In the United States, spending on pets is rising annually. With the multigenerational appeal of pets and the correlation of improved human health and pet ownership, it is no wonder that people are getting more inclined to having pets, regardless of age.
As pet ownership grows, the market for all kinds of pet products expands with it. For the pet industry, it is a booming business, though for consumers alike, it is an increasing expenditure.
Sure, pet owners have more choices now when it comes to vets, food, treats, supplies and other pet products available. However, increased expenses can limit the quality and quantity of products and vet services you provide to your companion.
However, there is a way to economize on your pet’s expenses without sacrificing anything and it is called pet insurance.
Pet insurance is not something new; it has been around since 1890 but it has just gained popularity in the recent decades, as more and more people acquire pets for companionship.
What is Pet Insurance?
Keeping a pet is a joyful thing; it helps reduce stress and anxiety and it also keeps you fit and active. In turn, making sure your pet is healthy and happy should also be your priority.
While it is almost impossible to always be healthy and safe, there are preventive measures that can be used to take care of your pet’s wellbeing. For one thing, purchasing pet insurance helps pay for medical expenses in case of sickness or accidents.
It provides you financial security when faced with the high cost of veterinary bills. As with any insurance, it softens the blow of any unexpected veterinary bills you may have regarding your pet’s health and wellness.
With different coverages offered by different insurance companies, it is necessary to pick the one that most suits your needs and financial capacity.
Proper research and comparison of the plans offered will give you insight as to what pet insurance is right for you and your pet’s needs.
Like any other insurances offered in the market, there are different types of pet insurance available. The most basic kinds of insurance for dogs are lifetime coverage, annual coverage and condition-based coverage.
This type is a comprehensive one that is usually the most expensive among the three, with the most benefits. You pay premiums every year and the company covers you, regardless of age and illness (subject to condition).
However, as your pet ages, your premium also increases in most cases, as there is more risk involved in providing coverage for your pet’s health. Still, even though it charges high premium, it can save you a lot and you are assured of your pet’s wellness until your dog passes away.
Annual coverage is considered the cheapest form of insurance compared to the others. Here, you pay a monthly premium (usually 12 months’ plan coverage) on a rolling basis but with less comprehensive coverage.
This kind of coverage is highly beneficial when you need to make a claim on an unexpected situation or condition regarding your pet’s health that may arise within the coverage period.
However, it generally does not cover pre-existing conditions and you will also have difficulty getting insurance as your dog gets older.
This is the most basic plan coverage available. As the name suggests, it only covers a specific case - whether it is illness or accident that your pet may face.
Unlike the others mentioned before, it is not time bound, which means you are able to claim the condition for as long as it would take until your pet meets the condition, or until the monetary limit is reached.
However, limits and specific terms and conditions are set by insurance providers with regards to certain breeds of dogs.
How Does It Work?
One of the fastest growing insurance in the United States, pet insurance is growing in popularity as veterinary care cost rises. In fact, according to American Pet Products Association (APPA), vet care is the second largest expenditure.
As the veterinary cost increases, more people are now opting to get covered by pet insurance policies to buffer its financial burden to pet owners. Pet insurance functions as a property insurance, in other words, it is as if your pet is your property.
It is not like typical human health insurance where your health is the main priority.
However, before you negatively react on how pets are part of the family and not a piece of property, it is necessary to note that pet insurance, in essence, works to your advantage. This is because as a pet owner, it will certainly save you money in terms of pet care.
Now, as you compare and contrast the various insurance providers available, choose the company that you are most compatible with regarding its plan coverage and your budget.
Also take into consideration the amount you are to be reimbursed after submitting a claim, as other companies only refund a certain set amount. On the other hand, some may refund based on your actual vet bills.
Once you have decided which is which, select the deductible or type of insurance you prefer. After, pick the reimbursement level or co-pay percentage. Then, pay your premiums according to the coverage you have chosen and visit your licensed veterinarian as needed.
Once you have paid your veterinary bills directly, submit a claim to your pet insurance provider for the reimbursement of your vet expenses. If you know and understand the basics of insurance-speak, most likely you will be able to figure out how pet insurance works.
Generally, you are to pay your premiums depending on the type of insurance you have selected, pay your deductibles or copays, then file a claim to your provider for the reimbursement of your expenses.
It is that simple, but you have to ensure that the specifics such as coverages and premiums you have to pay suit your budget and your dog’s needs.
When it comes to dogs, statistical data says that the first most common problem is either environmental allergy (Atopy) of some kind, affecting 9.7 percent of dogs, or otitis externa, i.e. ear canal inflammation, which allegedly affects 5 percent of canine pets.
On a side note, the allergies can be ongoing, so their treatment may be a bit hard financially. The second place is taken by conjunctivitis, while the third most frequent issue among dogs is diarrhea, followed by ear infection and vomiting on the fourth and fifth place.
Cancer (all types), osteoarthritis and mass are also in the top part of the list of frequent conditions in dogs. All of these problems seem a bit frightening, but many people would say their treatment costs quite a lot only due to the vets’ overpriced services.
However, the truth is that many of the procedures available today are quite new and expensive, but life-saving as well. Many of them make it possible for your pet to stay alive and recover from a number of conditions, which would require euthanasia a couple of decades ago.
This is why you shouldn’t ignore the potential benefits from insuring your pet’s health, since it might save both its life and your finances.
What Dog Insurance Usually Covers
If you want your policy to be as useful as possible, you need to do some research into what exactly insurance companies offer and how that applies to your pet’s current condition and potential problems.
The basic thing they usually cover is, of course, veterinary bills. Although routine check-ups are rarely included in the policy, other more significant treatments for various conditions will be a part of the coverage plan.
Usual Vet Costs
These incorporate treatments for various injuries and illnesses.
Breeding and Delivery Coverage
Pregnancy, breeding and related costs aren’t usually a part of an insurance plan. If you would like this type of coverage, you’ll have to specifically ask for it.
Hereditary and Congenital Conditions
These issues include ailments that develop due to some genetic traits and majority of conditions that were present ever since the animal was born.
When you are looking for an insurance plan appropriate for these problems, you need to make sure the coverage is unlimited, i.e. that the conditions for coverage eligibility aren’t too strict and exclusive.
Chronic and Ongoing Problems
These are covered in lifetime policies. If you are looking into a usual policy, keep an eye out for the possible terms when it comes to the coverage of these issues.
Dental care is covered if it’s the health that’s endangered, while esthetic interventions are not included. However, even the injury and illness dental treatments aren’t always included in the policy.
In other words, if you want this type of coverage, you need to be aware that it’s not the most common policy feature.
These are commonly excluded from the basic policy, but you are able to pay extra for this type of coverage. This will, for example, allow for homeopathic and acupuncture treatments.
There are also some policy features that aren’t closely related to vet visits but are to your finances.
Behavior Problems Treatment
Since these treatments may turn out to be a bit complicated and might require involvement of professional organizations, you have to make sure their coverage doesn’t have a low limit.
Third-Party Liability Coverage
You are able to arrange for your policy to include coverage for expenses you will be required to pay if your dog injures someone or does some damage to their property. The potential legal and claimant’s costs are usually included in the plan.
If you plan to take your pet abroad, it’s good to have a policy that would also cover the expenses of treatments abroad. You never know what might happen to your pet, so you probably want to be on the safe side.
If you are the sole guardian of your dear pet, you have to consider including this into your coverage plan, just to be sure your pet won’t be left alone if you happen to be hospitalized.
Missing Pet Coverage
If your pet gets lost or stolen, there are many things you are able to do to get it back, but those things cost.
Luckily, even these expenses can be involved into your pet’s insurance policy. Costs like advertising the loss off your pet and paying for the recovery prize can be included in this plan. Also, the insurance may even refund the money you’ve paid for the dog in the first place.
Death Due to an Illness or Injury
In this case, you are usually refunded for the purchase costs after a certified vet has determined the cause of death. However, there is usually an age limit, meaning that after your dog has reached a certain age, the insurance won’t cover death by illness.
Some policies can include this type of coverage, as well as related costs such as cremation and burial.
Is Dog Insurance Worth It?
In general, if you can’t afford to pay an extremely high vet bill at once, it would be smart to get an insurance policy. If you want to pay a low monthly premium as possible, there are features you are able to exclude from your policy.
However, not having an insurance at all can affect you either financially or emotionally. If anything should happen to your beloved pet, you’ll either have quite high bills to pay, or you’ll have to put it down for the lack of appropriate treatment.
When you think about it in this way, an average monthly premium seems a fair price to pay for your peace of mind.
Paying for pet insurance might seem like an unnecessary expense on top of all the other bills you have.
However, after listing all the possible features and types of coverages as well as considering all the benefits, it does look like a reasonable thing to do if you are not extremely wealthy and you care for your little furry family member.
That said, the best advice is to do your research into which policy suits you best and buy it as soon in your pet’s life as possible.
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