OVRS_iStock_000063503083_Large.jpgModern veterinary care looks astoundingly different than it did in previous generations. Pet parents today have nearly every option available to them to extend the life of their pets, from cancer treatments and long-term hospitalizations to MRIs and organ transplants. While some people are fortunate enough to easily afford this level of advanced medical care for their pets, for many pet owners, these expensive treatments can break the bank.

This is where pet insurance comes in. Much like medical insurance for humans, pet insurance can provide the financial peace of mind that otherwise would not be available to us in the event of an emergency.

Considering Pet Insurance

According to the American Pet Products Association’s 2011-2012 National Pet Owners Survey, dog and cat owners spend an average of $248 and $219 respectively on routine vet visits per year. This does not factor in the average cost of treatment for an illness or injury, which could range from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

It’s easy to write off pet insurance as an unnecessary expense if your pet is healthy and hasn’t needed emergency or specialty veterinary medical care before. Unfortunately, the majority of pets will need veterinary services beyond standard wellness care at some point in their lives, and while saving for these expenses can help, pet insurance can ultimately take the burden of a large vet bill off your shoulders.

Almost daily, we see pet owners face difficult decisions about their pet’s care and its associated expense. Pet insurance allows them to focus on getting the care their pet needs rather than worrying about how to pay for that care.

Do Your Homework

There are over a dozen pet insurance companies in the United States. Before you make your final decision, consider the following:

  • Monthly premiums
  • Deductible amounts
  • Limitations and exclusions
  • Payout maximums
  • Lifetime limits
  • Add-on options

Pet insurance is different from human medical insurance in that, rather than paying a co-pay each time you visit the doctor, you will be responsible for the full payment up front, and will be reimbursed after you submit the claim. Some policies pay based on the actual bill while others have a set amount that will be reimbursed depending on the service or procedure. The CareCredit healthcare credit card can be a great payment option while waiting on the reimbursement from insurance.

All pet insurance companies vary in their terms and conditions. Pre-existing conditions generally aren’t covered, but some of the better insurance companies, such as Trupanion, offer coverage of genetic congenital issues, such as cruciate tears. Trupanion also allows the policyholder to choose the deductible amount, something most other companies don’t offer.

Make sure you understand the policy and clear up questions you may have before signing on the dotted line to be sure you’re signing with a good provider.

The Benefits Of Pet Insurance

It’s stressful enough coping with a beloved pet that has been injured or fallen ill without worrying about how you’re going to foot the bill. A solid pet insurance policy takes the focus off of your bank account, freeing you to focus on getting your pet the best possible care.

OVRS recommends that you take a little time now to look into pet insurance before you’re standing in a pet emergency room facing a hard decision. There are much better options today than in the past and knowing you have payment covered can give you peace of mind.