Your cute cat and adorable dog make your house feel like a home. Unfortunately, pets can get injured and sick just like humans. As your pet ages, their vet bills will likely go up as well. While it’s hard to think about now, there’s a possibility that your pet could end up having a long-term disease as they enter their senior years.
Huge vet bills can take a major toll on your finances. In the worst-case scenario, you could find yourself choosing between your proper treatment or euthanasia. Pet insurance can help you avoid these difficult decisions and keep your pet happy and healthy in the process.
Over the past 10 years or so, pet insurance has really taken off and become much more mainstream. Today, many people use pet insurance companies to ensure that their pets have coverage for catastrophes or long-term illnesses. Use this guide to learn more about pet insurance, how it works and why it might be a must-have for your feline or canine friends.
The History Of Pet Insurance
Pet insurance was first introduced by Claes Virgin of Sweden in 1890. Originally developed to protect against lost or stolen livestock and horses, pet insurance has come a long way since its introduction. While reports vary, the first mainstream commercial policy appears to have been written around 1947 in Britain. Today, both Sweden and Britain lead the way when it comes to pet insurance rates, with nearly 25% of animals covered by health plans.
In the United States, the first pet health insurance plan was introduced in 1982. However, few pets are covered by insurance in the US still. According to a 2016 report, only about 1% of pets are covered in the US.
The pet insurance market in the United States does appear to be growing. As more and more people face high-priced vet bills and difficult choices about cat and dog health, pet owners are realizing that a monthly premium may be better than paying a large lump sum when their animals fall ill or injured.
Pet Insurance Vs. Paying Out Of Pocket
Vet bills, like your own medical bills, can be very expensive. While a pet checkup isn’t likely to break the bank, relatively simple things like lab-based blood tests and treatment can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars with ease. Vaccines can also be quite costly when you have a new pet at home.
With pet insurance, you will be reimbursed for a portion of the money you spend on care for your pet. In most cases, the reimbursement rate is between 70% and 90%, though it may be a little lower if you opt for a low monthly premium plan or your pet is in their senior years.
Of course, if you do opt for pet insurance, you’ll need to pay a monthly premium to keep their coverage active. While prices can vary quite a bit, most companies claim that costs are anywhere from $15 to about $90 per month, depending on the scope of the coverage you choose.
Why Do Pet Insurance Prices Vary So Much?
Pet insurance isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. While few people have pet insurance in the US today, the numbers are growing and more and more companies are getting into the business. This gives you more choices, but it does mean a wide variance when it comes to monthly plans and rates.
In general, pet insurance prices vary based on the type of coverage that your pet will get. Discount or very inexpensive plans rarely cover general wellness like checkups, though some may cover vaccines. Some plans don’t cover exam fees either, only the treatment prescribed by a doctor.
More comprehensive and costly plans tend to cover exam fees, checkups, vaccines, medications and even necessary special food for pets with illnesses. Balancing the level of coverage you want against what you’re willing to spend is essential when choosing pet insurance for your animals for this reason.
Hereditary Conditions Vs. Congenital Conditions
Hereditary conditions are typically linked to your pet’s breed. In some cases, these conditions will be present early in life. Other times, your pet can develop this condition later in life or as they age into being senior animals. Congenital conditions are those that a pet is born with.
For pet insurance policy shoppers, it’s important to note that coverage of these conditions varies from provider to provider. While many policies don’t cover congenital issues, hereditary conditions that develop later in life – like hip dysplasia in certain dog breeds – may be covered.
Take time to compare different policies that you’re looking at if you are concerned about hereditary and congenital condition coverage. While more costly plans typically cover more of these conditions, doing your homework and reading the fine print is the only way to know if you’ll receive a reimbursement and at what rate.
Alternative Therapy Options For Pets
Alternative therapies for pets are becoming more popular each day. This is particularly true when it comes to pain management, where acupuncture is being used regularly to help some pets. Other therapies, like water-related therapy for pets with hip and leg problems, are also much more prominent than they used to be.
Unfortunately, not all insurance providers for pets include these services. If you’re interested in providing these services for your pet – even if they don’t need them today – looking for a provider that offers them is ideal.
Note that your premiums may be more, though there is a cost-effective wellness plan that does include some types of alternative treatment coverage.
Picking out the perfect pet insurance policy for cats or dogs can be difficult. With more choices on the market than ever, it can take days to narrow down your search to find a plan that meets your care and budgetary needs.
The good news is that once you find coverage, you’ll likely pay the same policy rate for years, or at least until your pet becomes a senior. The peace of mind that pet insurance provides, as well as the potential out of pocket savings, is well worth the price of admission for many pet lovers.
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