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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.

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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