When a pet joins a family, new owners budget for preventative veterinary care, food, grooming and boarding. But it’s difficult, if not impossible, to calculate the potential cost of medical care for injuries or illnesses over a pet’s lifetime. That’s why veterinarians encourage pet owners to consider insurance coverage as soon as a pet joins the family.
An owner can apply for coverage once a pet has been examined. Some pet health insurance companies require a review of your pet’s medical records in order to look for a pre-existing condition that might not be covered under the policy. Some policies do cover hereditary and congenital conditions. For instance, if your pet’s breed has a high rate of progressive retinal blindness, your may be able to get coverage for that condition. Frequently, pet health insurance policies require a waiting period after enrollment during which your pet would not be covered for various illnesses or injury, especially if your pet has already been diagnosed for some medical problem.
Just like health insurance policies for people, policies have an annual deductible. Once the deductible has been met, the company will reimburse the pet owner at the chosen level of reimbursement. Rates for the insurance are likely to increase each year because the company will be paying for higher diagnostic and treatment costs as advances in veterinary care continue to be offered. Lifetime coverage may be offered for the pet’s continued medical care once the waiting period is over. Some policies do not have lifetime caps as long as your pet is in continuous enrollment.
The cost of veterinary health insurance ranges from $19 to $35 per month, depending on the company and coverage chosen. Most companies accept credit card monthly payments. In some cases, pet owners may have employers who are enrolled with a pet health insurance company and offer payroll deduction for their employee participants.
Before you review and compare pet insurance companies. Some key points to know as you compare policies:
• Does the plan use a benefit schedule? • Does the plan cover genetic or congenital conditions?
• What is and what is not covered?
• Are there financial limits for each illness or accident event?
• What are the rules regarding pre-existing conditions?
• How do customers rate various pet insurance plans?
Having pet health insurance can help pet owners have peace of mind that, when an unexpected illness or accident occurs, they will be able to provide their pet with needed medical care without worrying about the expense.
Karen Geissert, D.V.M., owner of Acton Animal Hospital, has practiced veterinary medicine for over thirty years. She is a member of the Massachusetts Veterinary Medicine Association and American Veterinary Medical Association. To contact her with more questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.