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What You Should Expect From Pet Insurance

Owning a pet can be a very rewarding experience. For most people, their pets are more than just furry companions – they are members of the family.

Like any other family member, pets can be expensive to maintain, especially as they age. Like human beings, older pets are prone to certain diseases, including diabetes and heart disease. Medical procedures and interventions for these services can be quite costly, and pet owners can find themselves racking up thousands of dollars at the veterinarian to keep their pets healthy.

Now there is a solution beyond unnecessary euthanasia – pet health insurance.

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 property insurance umbrella. 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.

But what should you expect from pet insurance?

  • Affordability. The most important factor in purchasing a health insurance policy for your pet is affordability. Pet owners are more likely to purchase the coverage if it fits within their monthly budget. Policies range from as low as $15 a month to $75 a month or more. As with insurance policies for people, more costly plans tend to offer more bells and whistles when it comes to coverage.
  • Coverage Length. There are two kinds of insurance policies for pets: lifetime and non-lifetime coverage. Lifetime coverage policies are designed to provide coverage for the pet without limitations. Non-lifetime policies must be renewed annually, and with most plans in this category, any health condition for which a claim was filed in the previous year will automatically be placed on the list of non-covered procedures/conditions for the following year. Lifetime policies are designed to continue to provide coverage for any condition for which the pet has received veterinary care.
  • Coverage Type. When pet insurance policies first came onto the scene, most did not cover preventative care for pets, such as annual exams, vaccinations and spaying/neutering. Within the last couple of years, however, pet insurance companies in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom have begun to include routine preventative healthcare coverage in their plans.
  • Limitations. As with human health insurance plans, many plans for pets exclude pre-existing conditions. Even companies which cover pre-existing conditions generally place exclusions on how much will be covered and how often. It is best to research this if you have a pet that already suffers from a health condition which will require extensive monitoring.

As with health insurance policies for humans, those which cover our furry friends come with a variety of benefits. More expensive plans will cover more services at a higher coverage rate, while the majority of inexpensive plans contain coverage exclusions for select services. Before choosing any policy, do your research: ask for customer recommendations, compare coverage and cost factors, and seek out information from the veterinarian who provides health services to your pet.

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