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Why Has Pet Insurance Become So Popular?

Tuesday, June 15th

Why Has Pet Insurance Become so Popular?

Like their human counterparts, household pets are living to a ripe old age. With advances in the identification of diseases and conditions particular to animals, our pets are able to live longer, happier lives.

However, medical advancements which can help to keep our pets in top health can be costly, leaving many pet owners with the painful decision of going bankrupt in order to provide medical necessities to their pets, or euthanizing them. Even regular visits to the veterinarian can be expensive if a pet needs more than just an annual exam. Dental cleanings, blood work and even vaccinations can total into the hundreds of dollars.

With the recent economic downturn, pet owners are finding creative ways to pinch pennies while still maintaining the health of their pets. As of 2012, only one percent of the U.S. pet population - just under 3 million animals - were insured. However, industry trends indicate that pet health insurance policies are growing in popularity in the U.S., with an anticipated increase of 10 percent in the next five years.

The first official pet healthcare policy was sold in Britain in 1947. Britain trails only Sweden in the number of pet owners who provide insurance for their pets. Dogs are the most-insured pet, followed by cats and small exotic animals. While it is sold under the name "healthcare insurance," pet health insurance is actually under the insurance umbrella for property. According to insurance laws, pets are seen as property, so the insurance policy which covers them is similar to that for any other property owned by an individual.

However, one of the biggest reasons for the surge in popularity in pet healthcare insurance is because pet owners do not view their pets as property, but rather as family members. In the last two years, amidst a recession, pet owners still spent over $50 billion on their pets' healthcare, even at the expense of cutting back on personal needs and wants.

In addition to viewing our furry friends as family rather than property, there are other advantages to having pet health insurance which have made its popularity soar in the last couple of years.

  • Cost Factor. One of the most valuable reasons to have health insurance coverage for any pet is the sheer expense of procedures for many conditions. Veterinarians have reported that clients are more likely to try extreme medical intervention for animals, such as kidney transplants and surgeries to repair internal injuries, when they have health insurance coverage for their pet. These kinds of medical interventions can run into the thousands of dollars, but many health insurance plans for pets cover up to 80 percent of the cost.
  • Economic Euthanasia. Veterinarians have reported that the rate of pet owners who choose to euthanize their pets versus providing necessary medical intervention is decreasing with the growing popularity of pet health insurance. As more affordable health plans for pets become available, pet owners are willing to go the extra mile in treating their pets knowing that it won't drain their wallets in the process.

Whether monthly pet insurance premiums are worth it depends entirely on the pet and the owner. Some breeds of animals are genetically predisposed to health problems. If you own one of these pets, health insurance coverage is a good idea.

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Pet Insurance Company FAQ

Generally speaking, all ages are welcome when it comes to providing your pet with pet insurance. As the pet gets older rates may be more expensive than if you would have gotten coverage at a younger age. Please keep in mind some companies have age restrictions for when they can accept a dog or cat into their insurance plan. Typical restrictions are around 12+ years of age.
No one can forecast when your dog or cat is going to digest something they shouldn't have or have an accident related injury. Luckily, pet insurance helps to protect the pet owner against unexpected veterinary bills that can reach into the $1,000s.
It is recommended to get pet insurance before winter or summer seasons. During those seasons, there are more dangerous elements that are exposing your pet to potential illness and accidents. As far as age goes for the puppy, insurance companies recommend getting your pet insurance when your new best friend arrives home.
Typically, insurance companies only insure cats and dogs. But some companies will insure dogs, horses, other large animals, cats, other small animals, rodents, reptiles, and birds.
Depending on the company, a pet insurance claim can be sent via several different methods. Methods can include email, fax, or regular mail. When completing a claim make sure to include all of your paid vet bill invoices, and any other required documents. When the claim is processed it will either be accepted with a reimbursement, more information needed (i.e. incomplete claim form), or denial (i.e. due to non-coverable services)
Of course, your pet insurance travels with you, wherever you go. Some insurance companies may have restrictions when it comes to international travel. Make sure to check with your pet insurance company if you plan on taking your furry friend across the border.
It depends greatly on which company and plan you decide to go with. Most pet insurance companies cover accidents and illnesses after a waiting period. If the illness is a preexisting condition, you're likely not to receive any coverage. It's important you understand the fine print of any plan you may decide to go with.
In general, veterinarians do not handle pet insurance claims. Veterinarians and the owner make choices for the pet's medical care and overall health. If the care is covered by the insurance, the insurance company will reimburse the owner a percentage of the bill (depending on the chosen insurance plan's coverage) after the care and service has been performed.

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