Why Get Pet Insurance?by Carol Wiley
Pets require medical care that can often be costly.
Pet insurance can be worth considering because of the high costs associated with veterinary care if your pet becomes injured or ill. According to a "Consumer Reports" article, most pet owners are unwilling to spend much more than $500 a year for veterinary care. However, treating a pet that is injured or has a serious medical condition can run into many thousands of dollars.
According to Connecticut Watchdog, 11 companies offered pet insurance, as of January 2011. Most companies offer policies for dogs and cats. The coverage and cost of pet insurance policies vary widely. You can get coverage for accidents only or for accidents and illness. Some companies offer coverage for routine wellness care, often at an additional premium. While no companies will cover a pre-existing condition, the definition of pre-existing varies from company to company. Monthly premiums for pet insurance can range from less than $10 to more than $90, according to "Consumer Reports."
Questions to Ask
If you are considering a pet insurance policy, make sure you understand it by asking questions, including: What are the deductibles, co-pays and annual or lifetime maximums? Does the insurance pay the veterinarian directly, most don't, or do I pay the bill and then get reimbursed? Does the policy have a waiting period before covering a condition? What is not covered? Does the policy require I use a veterinarian in a network, or can I use any veterinarian?
Exclusions and Renewable Benefits
Some policies exclude hereditary conditions that are specific to certain breeds or offer limited coverage for a condition your pet was born with. Some policies don't cover elective procedures. Ask if the policy has renewable benefits -- if your pet receives treatment for a covered condition during the policy term, some companies will consider it a pre-existing condition when the policy renews and will not cover the condition in the renewal policy.
A 2016 review by "Consumer Reports" of four pet insurance policies concluded that they were not worth the cost for a generally healthy pet but if your pet develops a chronic condition or illness requiring costly major care, the insurance policies do have a positive payout. In other words, pet insurance is like other insurance -- useful if you use it but just an extra expense if you don't. Deciding whether to buy a pet insurance policy depends a large part on both your ability to pay for major care if your pet needs it and your feelings about whether you would be willing to put a seriously ill or injured pet to sleep.
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