Pet Health Insurance 101 Keep Your Pet Healthy

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When Sam went to the vet last year with her cat, April, she got terrible news no pet owner ever wants to hear: her precious kitty was sick and had a tumor on her stomach. The vet provided a list of the different treatment options available to help April get well, but they were all very expensive and Sam just couldn’t afford even one. If Sam had purchased pet health insurance, the outcome would have been much better.

Everyone’s health is unpredictable, including that of our fur babies. But is pet health insurance really worth it? Expensive veterinary treatment can be the difference between life and death.

From food and toys, to grooming products and OTC medication, a study published by CNBC showed that owning a pet is very costly. Over their average life span and depending on pet type, the average cost can range between $20,000 to $40,000. Add to that an average vet check-up charge of $250 or the dreaded emergency visit, and you could find yourself making hard decisions. Pet health insurance coverage would help pay for that emergency visit, leaving you responsible for a small deductible.

Typically, the standard pet health insurance provider will not cover pre-existing conditions, so it is recommended that you secure your policy when your pet is healthy. Plus, you will most likely have a waiting period before you can use your insurance (this will vary by provider.) Average wait times are two days for accident claims, 14 days for an illness and six months for a leg injury.

Here are some standard charges covered by most pet health insurance plans:

  • Diagnostics: includes blood tests, urinalysis, X-rays, MRIs, labwork, CT scans and ultrasounds.
  • Broken bones
  • Vehicle accidents
  • Poisoning or toxic foods
  • Cancer or diabetes (after the waiting period)
  • Hospitalization

Here are some charges pet health insurance typically does NOT cover:

  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Bilateral conditions (cataracts, hip dysplasia)
  • Dental care
  • Non-accident or non-physical illness (obedience training, claw trimming, grooming)
  • Preventable maladies
  • Experimental treatments
  • Non-enrolled pets

If you are contemplating pet insurance, consider how much your pet means to you and your family. Are they part of the family? How much are you willing to spend to keep them around? Are you willing to go bankrupt? If you find yourself willing to go the distance, then pet insurance is a smart move. Just like our own medical bills, vet bills and exam fees can creep up quickly after an illness or emergency. Cancer treatment that includes chemotherapy can run up to $35,000; even diabetes medication can cost you $1,200 a year.

The key is to plan ahead. Pet insurance could save you money in the long run and keep your best friend around far into the future.

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