Pet Insurance

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Veterinary treatments have gotten increasingly more expensive over time and with more medical advancements to help pets live longer and happier lives, come a higher expectation for pet owners to have pets for a long time. It is hard to see a pet go. Whether it is a dog that you have had since your now teenage song was born, or a cat that you bought as soon as you bought your own place, those pets hold a special place in your heart. You may see a high hospital bill, but your heart is going to get step in and you are going to pay the bill to get your pet the care they need.Well, you can avoid those surprise expenses by purchasing a pet insurance policy.

Pet insurance pays the partial total for veterinary treatment of the insured person’s injured or ill pet. It may be difficult to think about replacing a pet that you love so much, but some policies will even pay out when the pet dies, or is lost or stolen.

Pet insurance is probably something that you have not even heard of or even considered, but it is a concept that has been around for well over 100 years. Claes Virgin, the founder of the Länsförsäkrings Alliance, wrote the first pet insurance policy in 1890. At the time he was focused on his horses and livestock, which he wanted to protect. As of 2009, Sweden has the highest level of pet insurance in the world, with Britain in second. The first pet policy in the United States was not sold until 1982.

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How does a Pet Insurance policy work?

Common sense tells us that pet insurance polices must work much like human health insurance policies, where you pay a monthly fee, and have a deductible that needs to be reached before coverage is met. But, this is a common misconception. Pet insurance polices actually function much more like property insurance policies, or home insurance policies. Pet insurance policies reimburse the owner after the pet has received care and the owner submits a claim to the insurance company.

Policies in the United States and Canada work in the same way. The polices pay off a benefit schedule or pay a percentage of the vet costs, up to 90 percent, after reaching  a deductible, depending on the company and the policy.  If your dog needs surgery on a broken leg for example, you would pay the amount due to the veterinarian and then send in the claim form and receive reimbursement. Some companies and policies will limit the amount of reimbursement according to their own schedules. For some very high bills, veterinarians will allow the owner to put off payment until the insurance claim is processed. In some cases the insurance company will pay the veterinarians directly on behalf of the customers.

Originally, pet insurance plans did not pay for preventative care such as flea vaccinations, heartworm medication or some elective procedures like neutering, but now United States pet insurance policies are starting to offer routine-care coverage options, sometime referred to as comprehensive coverage.

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The categories of coverage

Non-Lifetime Pet Insurance: This type of coverage cover pet owners for most conditions suffered by their pet during the course of the policy year. Renewal for the following year is not guaranteed though; instead it is dependent on the condition that has been claimed for. If the pet is going to need further treatment the pet owner will have to pay for that for him or herself.

Lifetime Pet Insurance: This type of coverage covers a pet for ongoing conditions throughout the pet’s lifetime. If a condition is claimed for in the first year it will not be excluded from coverage the following years. Lifetime policies do have some limits though. Some have limits per condition, others have limits per condition per year and others have limits per year, all of which have different consequences for pets that need treatment year after year.  If you are considering this option it is important to talk to your local independent insurance agent to be clear which type of lifetime limits there may be with your policy.

Pet insurance companies want to protect themselves just as much as they want to protect your pets, which is why they put limitations on pre-existing conditions in order to eliminate fraudulent consumers. A pet owner who just bought a newborn golden lab puppy probably is not going to think about purchasing a pet insurance policy. The insurance companies want to increase this sense of urgency by adding stipulations that the insurance will not kick in for a period of time and pre-existing conditions that the insurance company will avoid when choosing what pets to insure.

Why is pet insurance needed?

Pet InsuranceThe American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) highlights a few reasons why pet insurance can be a good investment to make in your pets. The biggest reason highlighted is to prepare for the unexpected. Did you know that Americans spent almost $15 billion on veterinary care in 2013? No one wants to have to think about his or her precious pet getting hurt or sick, but we all know it is not a predictable world and it is hard to imagine that your pet will get through life without any sort of medical issue. It can be something as simple as having allergies, or getting sick from getting into a cupboard of food you forgot to close before leaving the house. Pets are pretty curious creatures and they have a nose for food. They also have a very active lifestyle and are sometimes pretty fearless. It is difficult to keep them protected from all the harmful things that can potentially happen to them.

Not to worry about your pet’s life. There are more lifesaving treatments available for pets than ever before, but it all comes at a cost. According to the ASPCA, United States pet owners have spend more than $13 billion on veterinary care in 2010 a number that increased by 40 percent since 2006 and likely will continue to increase over the next decade.

Pet insurance protects against the unexpected and helps keep down the high out-of-pocket costs for pet care.

Many people likely just dip into their savings accounts to pay for their pet care, a great idea if you have sufficient savings stored up to pay for whatever costs that may jump up. It is hard to guarantees that the money is there when you are going to need it. It is the same thing a person deals with when it comes to any type of insurance. It is hard to plan for unexpected expenses like vet clinic bills. Pet insurance polices reimburse up to 90 percent of the usual customary coverage charges after a minimal deductible per pet (as low as $100). This can save you a ton of stress when something comes up and you are looking for hundreds or thousands of dollars in veterinary bills.

In a U.S. News article from 2011, Jim Wang looked into whether or not people need to purchase pet insurance. In the article Wang talked about his adopted eight-year old beagle named Tobey.

Now it is important to remember that pet insurance can vary in price depending on the type of pet and the breed of the pet.  The healthier the dog is, the less adventurous the animal may be and the more the pet is inside, the lower risk the pet has for getting injured and thus the lower the premium will be.

In the case of Wang’s beagle, the insurance did not seem worth it. The monthly premiums combined with the deductible and 20 percent co-payment, made it such that he paid almost $700 in treatment each year for the insurance program to make sense.

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For him the insurance made more sense than having to think about saving the money for the just-in-case moment. With the insurance a surgery that costs $3,000 would only cost them $650 to reach the deductible and the 20 percent requirement. The way he saw it, it was better to have to be faced with a $650 decision in the moment than a $3,000 one, so the insurance seem his mental health. This is what insurance is for. It protects you against those random high costs and gives you the piece of mind knowing that your pet is safe and can be protected without a hefty fee for any type of surgery or sickness.

If you are looking to become a pet owner or if you have a pet that is beginning to age it may be a good idea to protect the pet with a pet insurance policy. The insurance policy can save you from high costs for veterinary care and protect your pet’s life. If you are interested in learning more about pet insurance you can contact your local independent insurance agent to find a policy that works for you.

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Enhanced Insurance is not written by attorneys. If you’re looking for legal advice, you need to contact a lawyer. Further, insurance practices and forms change constantly and are varied from state to state. For definitive answers in your area, contact a local agent.

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