Many pet owners share a common concern: what if my beloved animal gets sick or injured? Will I be able to afford the care that he or she will need?
.This is a valid concern. From MRIs to radiation therapy, there are many options for veterinary care that used to be only available for humans. There are even a growing number of veterinary specialists, including cardiologists, oncologists, and neurologists
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who can provide life-saving care that would have been out of the question in past years… but only at a hefty cost.
.The question of whether or not you should take out a health insurance policy for your four-legged friends (or winged or slithery friends, as the case may be) will depend largely upon your financial circumstances, your pet’s health and age, and your need for further peace of mind when it comes to your buddy’s medical needs.
.Reasons to consider investing in policies for your furry friends:
.1. You have a pet who you already know has a condition that will likely require more extensive care throughout his or her life (see below regarding “If you do decide to take out a policy”).
.2. You worry a great deal about having to confront situations in which your pet has a treatable condition that you simply cannot afford, and as a result have to decide whether to euthanize. For some people, the peace of mind that results from having a policy that would prevent the need to make such a difficult
decision will outweigh their concern over whether or not they will get back more in benefits than they have paid for the premiums.
.3. You have enough disposable income for a premium, but would be unable to cover the expense of diagnostics and treatment in the case of an emergency (see below regarding “A very valid alternative”). Reasons not to splurge on a premium for your pet:
.4. You consider the policy as an investment: the deductibles, co-pays, and benefit limits of many policies do not guarantee (or even make likely) that you will come out ahead.
.Also take into consideration that very few insurers will cover pre-existing conditions and if your pet is already elderly, some insurers may not allow you to take out a policy on aged animals and others will charge a significantly higher premium.
.If you do decide to take out a policy make sure to research your options: as always, practice due diligence! Also, don’t hesitate to ask your vet for suggestions and look up online customer reviews of the different companies.
.It is also a good idea to get a copy of the complete policies you are considering and read the fine print. Some things to consider are:
.1. Whether you will have limited options for what providers you can go to.
.2. Whether they require you to pay the bill up front and get reimbursed later (and, if so, what their reimbursement schedule is).
.3. What the annual, lifetime, and accident-related coverage limits are.
.4. Whether the policy covers chronic and recurring health issues.
.5. Whether they cover annual checkups, vaccines, and routine tests.
.6. Whether they have breed-related restrictions.
.7. What percentage of services the company will pay for after the deductible.
.8. Whether prescription drug coverage is included
.9. Whether treatment will still be covered if your pet dies during a procedure.
.10. Whether you will be covered if you travel with your pet.
.To get the best rates, take out a policy while your pet is still young. In addition, if your pet already has a medical condition, make sure you get a policy that covers pre-existing conditions and carefully weigh the costs and benefits of more expensive plan options, such as zero-deductible plans.
.Furthermore, make sure to research pet insurance policies to price out the average premium and put the money you would have spent on pet insurance into a savings account that is to be used only for veterinary expenses.
.Whether or not you decide to take out a health insurance policy for your pet, make sure you stay up-to-date on their preventative care, feed them a quality diet, and set aside money in case of the unexpected.