Pet Insurance

Prospective pet owners consider many factors when adding a pet to their home including breed, size, age, and temperament. Many potential owners gravitate towards the pet they fall in love with - the one with the irresistible 'cuteness factor.' It's been proven that people with pets reap health and wellness benefits in exchange for affection. Becoming a pet owner brings responsibilities in addition to daily care, including tending to that cute little pet when it is sick or injured. Pet owners should be prepared for occasional extra visits to the veterinarian beyond the annual physical examinations. It's during these times that pet insurance can be a valuable investment.

Benefits of Pet Ownership

Beloved pets are mutually beneficial to their owners by providing and affection and companionship. Are you aware that they can also help you lose or maintain weight, decrease stress, and even reduce allergies?

Dog owners who walk their dogs daily are less likely to be obese than dog owners that don't take walks, making dogs a frugal personal trainer. The National Institute of Health found a correlation between physical activity and dog ownership. People who owned dogs increased their physical activity by 57% to 77% compared with people who don't own dogs. In another study by the National Institute of Health, results showed that regular dog walking improves overall heart health by lowering cholesterol and decreasing blood pressure. The same study showed that pet ownership improved mental health in older adults.

Pet-related allergies can be a concern, especially for children. Studies show that having pets can actually lower a child's risk of developing allergies. University of Wisconsin-Madison pediatrician, James E. Gern, conducted a study that showed pet ownership can reduce childhood allergies by as much as 33% and that infants who are exposed to pets develop stronger immune systems than infants in families without pets.

Affordability of Pet Healthcare

In addition to veterinarian bills for annual immunizations and check-ups, owning a pet means added cost for food and accessories. Most pet owners gladly pull out their wallets for nominal expenses when it comes to keeping their pets happy, but major healthcare is as much a concern for pets as it is for people. Costs for a serious pet injury or illness can be prohibitive. A pet insurance policy can help prepare for those unexpected and expensive trips to the vet. Pet insurance policies clearly state the types of conditions they cover, as well as the conditions have limited coverage or are excluded all together. Pet health plans offer some flexibility in the expanse of coverage and can be customized to fit the needs of the pet owner.

What Pet Insurance Covers

What exactly does a pet insurance plan cover? Think about your insurance coverage for your home or auto policy. Personal insurance policies generally cover the unexpected - fires, vandalism, accidents, or acts of nature. Claims are processed up to the limit of your policy and are subject to a deductible. Pet insurance functions in much the same manner. Pet owners become emotional during times of severe sickness or injury to their pets. Pet policies offer peace of mind by reducing some of the financial burden of a sudden and unexpected pet illness or injury, so that you can focus on the most important issue at hand - caring for your pet.

For most people, the pet insurance policy wording is confusing and full of legalese. Read it anyway. Even when you don't understand it all, you'll gain some familiarity with it if you need to file a claim at a future date. Policies are not all-inclusive, but will generally cover some portion of unforeseen accidents, injuries, and illnesses. Most policies cover:

  • Asthma and respiratory issues
  • Breed-specific conditions
  • Cancer treatment
  • Diagnostic testing and imaging (x-rays, ultrasound, MRI)
  • Surgery, hospitalization, and nursing care
  • Alternative therapies and rehabilitation
  • Emergency room and specialist care
  • Allergies
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • Hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism
  • Orthopedic issues including arthritis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease or urinary tract disease
  • Prescription drugs (optional on some plans)

What Pet Insurance Doesn't Cover

Pet insurance plans are fairly comprehensive, but they generally exclude for pre-existing conditions and other routine types of treatments. Remember that every policy is different and coverage is based upon the type of plan that you selected. If you aren't sure if a specific condition is covered under your policy, you can always refer to your policy wording or ask your insurance agent for an explanation. Typical exclusions include:

  • Teeth cleaning
  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Shots
  • Prosthetic limbs and devices including mobility aids
  • Breeding, whelping, and pregnancy
  • Injury caused deliberately by you or any other person or pet residing in your home
  • Injury or illness resulting from fighting, racing, cruelty, or neglect
  • Cosmetic procedures such as tail docking, ear cropping, and dew claw removal
  • DNA testing or cloning
  • Organ transplant
  • Stem cell therapy not deemed medically necessary
  • Avian Flu or Nuclear War
  • Treatment for an illness related to the teeth and/or gums

Choosing a Plan

Pet insurance policies offer an array of options that can be overwhelming to the consumer. In selecting a plan, it's a good idea to think through the types of expenses that you might need to pay out-of-pocket beyond the annual veterinarian check-up. It might pay off to spend some time researching your breed to discover the typical kinds of problems you are likely to encounter. Next, consider your budget and compare how much you anticipate to pay in comparison with a plan that covers the kinds of treatments you expect. If the plan you want is over your budget, you may be able to increase the deductible to compensate for the difference.

A pet's health is as unpredictable as a human's health, which makes pet insurance worth checking out. It's true that purchasing a pet insurance policy won't cover every expense that comes along with owning a pet. What you can expect is that it will give you the peace of mind in knowing that you are prepared for your pet's health and medical needs over the long term.