Are you a pet owner? If your pet gets sick or injured, can you give your pet the best medical care possible? Should you consider pet insurance? Or are there other options? Let’s look at the possibilities and considerations.

What can happen to your pet?

First, what could happen to your pet and why would you even need pet insurance?

Accidents and Emergencies

Animals can have accidents and/or emergencies ranging from injured knees and swallowed socks — to stings from bees and cuts from rocks! Some are affordable and other could break the bank.

Illnesses

Your pet can be under the weather just like us, including dental disease, ear infections and stomach bugs.

Hereditary and Chronic Conditions

Lingering problems pester pets and pocketbooks. Chronic issues like allergies, and hereditary conditions like hip dysplasia and cancer.

Veterinary Exam Fees

Per vet visit routine care.What does pet insurance cover?

Almost all pet insurance providers cover injuries and illnesses to some degree. While you are reviewing a pet insurance plan, you need to consider or ask about:

  • accidents,
  • illnesses,
  • cancer,
  • emergency care,
  • genetic conditions,
  • veterinary exam fees,
  • imaging – mri, cat scan, ultrasound,
  • diagnostic treatments,
  • prescription medications
  • cancer treatments,
  • dental treatments (non-routine),
  • surgery + rehabilitation, and
  • alternative care.

What pet insurance doesn’t cover

Under most of the pet insurances out there, these are the normal items that are not covered. This will vary depending on the carrier and plan.

Pre-existing conditions

Unlike human healthcare, pet insurance is unable to provide coverage for pre-existing conditions. If your pet experienced a curable condition prior to enrolling in a policy, the condition may be eligible for coverage after an exclusionary period.

Routine + wellness care

Pet insurance is not a wellness plan and does not provide coverage for routine care such as teeth cleaning, vaccines or spaying/neutering.

Cosmetic procedures

Tail docking, ear cropping and dewclaw removal are unnecessary cosmetic procedures ineligible for coverage, unless deemed medically necessary by your vet.

Liability coverage

Unlike pet insurance, which is designed to protect the pet, liability insurance only protects the homeowner and their assets in the event of an incident.Insurance Policy Considerations

Things to think about when considering a pet insurance policy.

Before You Buy

Pet insurance is a relatively new industry in the U.S. Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) offered the first policy in 1982. Today, many companies offer policies, which is good, but it also makes choosing the best policy for you and your pet more complicated. Before you sign on the dotted line and write that first check, do your due diligence.Read the policy very, very carefully.

Most complaints seem to stem from the fact that the pet owner didn’t fully understand what was and wasn’t covered. Each insurance company offers a slightly different product, and you can’t assume that one policy is like another. Read them! If you don’t understand the terms, it’s worth the cost of a half-hour consultation with an attorney to make sure you do.Understand co-pays, deductibles and caps.

Co-pays and deductibles are the amounts the policy requires you pay out-of-pocket for each claim. Then, to complicate things, policies have caps. Generally, there are three caps in play at any one time: lifetime, period and per incident.”Talk with your Veterinarian

If you are being proactive about researching your options, speak with your Vet’s office about the different policies out there and which one they recommend and they accept so you don’t have any surprises.

Options

There are many options to consider regarding your pet.

Self-Insuring

Set up a savings account for your pet and deposit in it the amount equal to what you would pay as a premium, then use it only for extraordinary care. This works best if you’re disciplined and if your pet doesn’t require expensive care early in his life. Better yet, start out with a large initial deposit and add to it each month.

CareCredit

Most people know about CareCredit for dental and mental help for people. They have it for Veterinary Financing too. This is a line of credit specifically for use at participating veterinary clinics. Like a credit card, this line of credit can be used for routine care and/or extraordinary care. There are no up-front costs and you select the monthly payment option you can handle. Depending on the amount put on the card, you can take from six to 60 months to pay off the balance (check the annual percentage rate before you sign up).

Pet Insurance

Google has an entire list full of insurance companies. You can even find a pet insurance review website to help make things a little easier when comparing. This is a very personal choice and involves your risk level and knowing your pet.Rolling the Dice

So what are you really insuring against when you purchase a policy? The short answer: anything that would cause you financial hardship and make you ask yourself if you can afford the care your pet needs. None of us wants to be in the position of making an important decision about our dog’s care based solely on cost.

The bottom line

Choose the option that will allow you to sleep well, knowing that if your beloved companion requires expensive diagnostics, treatment and care, you have the resources available to pay for them. If you choose pet insurance, read every word of the policy very carefully and understand what the terms mean before you purchase. Then, go have fun with your flurry loved one!

Animal Care Center in Smyrna, GA, is owned and operated by Otto H. Williams, DVM. The veterinary practice specializes in complete healthcare for cats and dogs and offers services including preventative, surgical and nonsurgical care, internal medicine, grooming and boarding to Cobb County and surrounding cities such as Vinings, Marietta, Mableton and Sandy Springs. Call today at 770.438.2694 or request an appointment.