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What You Should Know Before Buying Pet Insurance

Pet owners have a special affection for their furry companions. Oftentimes, they think of them not only as pets, but as members of their families. As such, they want to ensure their pets live long, happy and healthy lives.

One of the best ways to make sure your pet stays in tip-top condition is to purchase a pet insurance plan.

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.

There are a few things you should know before buying pet insurance.

First and foremost is cost. Pet insurance plans should provide the kind of coverage needed at a cost that is affordable. There are 10 companies that offer pet insurance plans within the United States. Of those companies, plans range in cost from $15 a month to $50 or more. Some plans require the holder to meet a deductible prior to paying claims, much as health insurance plans for humans. If in order to afford a monthly premium the client has to have a deductible that is too high to reasonably afford, then the insurance plan is not a good choice. Annual limits for covered services also create problems for clients who own pets with chronic health conditions. There are a few plans that do not have annual limits, so it may be best to choose one of those plans if your pet will need continual care.

Another issue to consider is the way the pet insurance company handles veterinary cost reimbursements. Some insurers do not cover veterinarian exam charges, and restrict the reimbursement amount to a set amount per diagnosis.

For most pet owners, regular wellness exams, vaccinations and routine preventative health care are the most common procedures their pet undergoes. However, several of the pet insurance companies on the U.S. market do not include coverage for these routine services, leaving the customer to pay for a monthly insurance premium, as well as routine veterinarian care. In these instances, the insurance plan is not worth the monthly cost to the pet owner.

Another important factor in choosing a plan that is right for you is what the customer is required to do in order to have covered services paid for by the insurance plan. Some plans allow the veterinarian to bill them directly, much as human health insurance companies do, while others require the policyholder to pay the costs up front and then submit the receipts for reimbursement. Some customers of companies which require up-front payment have complained that it is difficult to have those costs reimbursed by the insurance plan later. So if guaranteeing that the costs will be covered is important, it is best to choose a plan that has a guaranteed coverage percentage plan.

Pet owners in the U.S. spend roughly $12 billion dollars annually for veterinarian care for their pets. This number is only expected to increase as more advanced medications become available to our pets. Choose a plan that best suits your needs and those of your pet to ensure a pleasant experience.

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