Veterinarians can now do more for your pet than ever before. The state-of-the-art technology, new medical procedure, and more knowledge make it all happen. Now, animals can live longer than their life expectancy and have surgery just like humans do.
It is costly though. According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, Americans spent more than $9.4 billion for vet care in 2006. With medical costs soaring, it might be hard to take extra good care of your pets. It’s getting harder each year and it’s not that simple. There is a way to avoid all these costly cares though.
One way to avoid having to choose between your pet and your pocketbook is pet insurance. The pet insurance market has grown 26% annually since 2001, although the percentage of Americans with policies remains small. Of the 163 million cats and dogs in the United States today, only 4% of dogs and 2% of cats are insured. Pets are living longer, so there is a greater chance they’ll develop serious conditions associated with age.
Pet insurance is similar to our health insurance. The traditional fee-for-service plans are most common. You choose from different coverage options and pay deductibles as well as premiums. There are also discount clubs that offer reductions on all services, for a yearly fee. Premiums are generally $25 a month for dogs and slightly less for cats. Many plans consider where you live; the age, species and breed of your pet; pre-existing conditions; and sometimes lifestyle activities.
Some plans are comprehensive and include checkups, vaccinations, preventive medications and spray surgery. Other insurance policies cover accidents and serious illnesses. Most policies require you to pay the vet at the time of service and submit a claim with an itemized receipt to the insurance company for reimbursement. That really blows and you might not even get your money back for at least a month. So what about the other bills you have to pay? Is it worth it?
Pet insurance has a lot of fine print so make sure you read everything carefully. Consider the following:
Cost- Don’t pick a plan on price alone, the cheapest may not be the best choice. Usually, lower monthly premiums mean higher deductibles and co-payments. Estimate how much you spend a year on veterinary care and how much you can afford. Some vets feel that pet insurance is the best for major expenses or emergencies but not for routine costs, which you could pay out of your pocket.
Age- If you insure your pet when he’s young, you won’t have to worry about coverage if he develops a chronic health problem that older dogs tend to have. As your pet ages, the cost of the insurance may rise, and it can be hard to find coverage for dogs and cats older than 8 years. Look for insurance companies with a rating of B+ or better. A.M. Best is an independent organization that rates the financial strength of insurance companies and their ability to pay.
Many people love their pets dearly and they would almost sacrifice anything to keep them alive and by their side. It depends on how you take care of your pet that makes it all worthwhile but you can’t predict your pet’s future health. But if you’re one of those individuals that has a dying pet and the vet tells you there’s a procedure that can save its life, you may be thankful for insurance. That’s when you can make the decision with your heart and not your wallet.