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Insurance for Fido
Your pet has become a member of the family. You love it, your spouse loves it, and your kids definitely love it. You can't imagine life without that bundle of fluff. But what if your pet got injured or seriously ill? You could quickly find yourself having to choose between going into debt or putting your pet to sleep.
If you would sadly and reluctantly choose to preserve your bank account, then you probably don’t need to read further. But if you know you would spend whatever it took to restore your pet to health, you might want to take a look at pet insurance. Pet insurance has become increasingly popular in recent years, as veterinary science finds more ways to save and prolong the lives of beloved pets. Your pet can now have an MRI, chemotherapy, allergy treatments, even organ transplants. But of course these treatments are not cheap.
You could, of course, just put some money into an account and keep it for pet emergencies. But few people have the discipline to do that on a regular basis. Too often, things like dinner out become “pet emergencies” – although you do bring back a doggie bag.
You also could try to improve your odds. For example, keeping your cat indoors or keeping your dog leashed or in a fenced yard when it is outdoors may reduce the chances of injury. Obesity in pets, like in humans, can cause health problems. But even if you and your pet do everything right, injury or illness could strike. Pet insurance is one possible way to ease the financial pain of caring for your pet.
There are several companies that sell pet insurance. In general, the coverage costs less if you buy it when your pet is young and healthy, and many policies refuse to cover older pets at all. They also may exclude coverage for conditions that are common to a specific breed, even if your pet has no signs of the condition. And most exclude coverage for any pre-existing health problems your pet has. These kinds of exclusions can significantly reduce the benefit of the coverage, so weigh them carefully.
Usually you pay the vet’s bill, and then you submit a copy of that bill to the company for payment. You will have to pay a co-payment, and policies also have a limit on coverage, much like health insurance for humans. Most policies don’t cover routine care such as vaccinations, teeth cleaning, grooming or neutering.
If you are interested in pet insurance, you can start by talking to your vet. Perhaps he or she has a recommendation – or a caution – to share. An online check for “pet insurance” brings up several companies, some of which let you apply immediately online.
Before you make your choice, though, read the policies carefully. Make sure you understand exactly what is and what is not covered. Consider how much work it will be to file claims, and check for payment terms. Compare co-payments and limits of coverage as well as cost. If you have more than one pet, see if the company offers a multi-pet discount.
Finally, don’t limit your search to coverage for dogs and cats. If you have a bird or exotic pet, like a snake or a tortoise, you may be able to get coverage for it, too.