About pet health care insurance – Part 2

Health insurance has been a hot topic in many countries for decades, but nowadays there’s another difficult decision to make: whether to get a health insurance for your pet or not. And this isn’t always an easy decision. For humans it is usually worth your money, as the costs of health care can be huge. But in general the health care costs for pets are a lot lower. The premiums for the insurances are also a lot lower, but are they worth the money?

Of course this largely depends on your situation. First of all you will have to decide what is the chance that your pet will get sick and how much it will cost to get it treated by the vet. When you have a dog or cat the costs will be a lot higher than if you have a hamster or rabbit. And for big dogs the costs are usually higher than for small ones. Another important factor is your own financial situation. If your pet gets seriously sick, can you cover the vet costs? If you can, then it’s probably worth the risk of not getting insurance. If you can’t, then you will have to decide if you do want to pay the premium for an insurance or that you take the risk of not getting your pet treated.

The general advice from vets and other independent specialist is that pet health care insurances are not worth the money you pay for them. The reason for this is that the premiums are high compared to the price you pay for a visit to the vet and medicines. But even more: most pet health care insurance have a lot of small print, in which many things are excluded. And these are usually the more common things. General health checks are not covered and neither are vaccinations. Existing conditions are also excluded. Your pet is mainly covered for unforeseen accidents and diseases. But here’s another trick. What exactly is “unforeseen”? The insurance company can make a real issue out of this and they usually do. You must also take good care of your pet, but when exactly is a disease caused by bad care? If your dog escapes from your yard and runs under a car, is that bad care? Probably the insurance will decide it is and won’t pay.

On top of that there is another trap. Most insurances have a maximum amount they pay per health care problem. This means that if your dog gets a chronic disease at the age of two, you will have to pay for its medicines for the next ten (or more) years and that’s not covered. And in case of an accident the costs can get pretty high and you have reached the limit quickly. Also hospitalization has usually limited cover and is only paid for when medically necessary, but who decides about that is unclear. And overnight stays are usually also limited to a few nights. When your cat gets a meeting with a car those few nights won’t be enough.

These are the most common problems, but of course not every insurance is the same. If you consider getting your pet a health care insurance, then read the policy very carefully and make a good balance between premiums and payments. It might be worth asking your vet how much certain procedures cost to get an idea of the right balance.

It’s everyone’s individual choice, but the general advise is still: don’t bother, but put some money at a savings account every month so that you can pay the vet’s bill if necessary. Usually that will be a lot cheaper.

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