Thursday, August 15, 2013

Pet Insurance - Is It Right for You?

Having health insurance options for pets is a relatively new trend. Perhaps ten years ago, people would have laughed if you told them you bought pet insurance, but today, it's big business. As a pet owner, you probably know how expensive a visit to the vet can be. If you're lucky, you will never have to do anything more than get Rusty a check-up and his regular shots. But most likely, Rusty has had some more serious health problems. Genetic and physical disorders can be a costly issue.

What Does Pet Insurance Provide?

It's not so different from human health insurance. Pet insurance companies generally offer different plans. They have deductibles, premiums, copays, limits, and exclusions. The offerings are highly variable, as with human insurance, so if you are considering purchasing, be sure to shop around. Understand what the risks are for Rusty, especially if he is a pure breed. Know what he is genetically predisposed to and read policies very carefully before purchasing so that you know what will be excluded.

What are the Pros of Buying Pet Insurance?

According to U.S. News and World Report, Americans spent $9.4 billion on pet health needs in 2006 and the costs are rising. With the increasing costs, the number of insurance policies is also rising. But is it worth it? There are some benefits to buying a policy for your best friend.

While buying insurance for anything involves some risk, what is certain is that any health problems that Rusty may suffer from beyond the ordinary preventative measures will be expensive. Just diagnosing an illness, with for example an MRI scan, can cost up to $5,000. Getting stuck with a bill like this, not to mention the cost of treatment for his ailment can be devastating. Many dog and cat owners have faced the horrible decision of whether or not they can afford to treat their pet. With insurance, you would not have to face that overwhelming choice.

Probably the biggest benefit to owning a pet insurance policy, besides possible saving money, is having peace of mind. If you have ever thought about whether or not you could afford to care for Rusty if he developed cancer or were hit by a car, you may be a candidate for insurance. It could ease your mind knowing you don't have to choose between Rusty's life and well-being and having money in the bank.

What are the Cons of Buying Pet Insurance?

The biggest con when it comes to purchasing insurance for Rusty is that it may end up costing you more than it saves you. Perhaps more than with other insurance types, pet insurance is risky. There is a good chance that you will never need it or that you will need it once or twice for minor occurrences. Premiums for pet insurance can cost between $2,000 and $5,000 over the average pet's lifespan and deductibles can be up to $100 per occurrence. If you are going to buy a policy, you need to be comfortable with the fact that that chunk of money may end up being a loss. For mixed-breed dogs especially, pet insurance often represents a loss to the owner because they tend to be far healthier than pure breeds.

Are There any More Cost-Effective Alternatives?

Check with your employer. Although still unusual, more companies are offering pet insurance as part of a benefit package. You might also consider creating a savings account just for Rusty. It would essentially be emergency savings that you have earmarked for any health problems that may arise. If you are caught in a bad situation, some banks may offer short term financing for pet emergencies.

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