How to compare pet insurance policies

Getting the Most from Pet Health Insurance

When considering health insurance for your pet, the first thing to ask yourself is:

How much will I pay to save my pet?

Roughly half of pet owners choose to have a pet put to sleep if medical treatment is high, but if you are among the many that will go to the wall for your pet, here are some things to consider:

What type of care are you looking for?

1. Routine Care: If you are seeking coverage for routine expenses, such as shots or annual exams, make sure that your premiums are not going to add up to more than your annual costs. Shop around to find the average cost of routine care in your area. Perhaps changing to a less expensive vet, or using low cost shot clinics will serve you. If routine vet care is pricey in your area, then look for company that offers a “Basic Wellness” plan. These have a lower premium and can defray the cost of routine care, but check the policy carefully. They won’t cover accidents or serious illnesses.

2. Catastrophic care: This is what most pet owners seek in health insurance for their pets. Treatments once reserved for humans are now available for pets. Conditions that were once fatal can be treated, giving your pet a long and happy life. But such treatments ranging from radiation for cancer, radiation iodine therapy for hyperthyroidism, and even organ transplants have costs ranging from $1,500 to $6,000 or more. Vets have access to ever more sophisticated diagnostic tools such as MRIs and ultrasounds. These tests can be costly, but they may also detect problems that could cost more in the long run without early diagnosis and treatment.

In this instance you want to look at precisely what conditions the policy covers, and compare that to your pet’s lifestyle. Is your pet an indoor only cat that has less risk of injuries sustained by traffic or fights with other animals? If so, look for a policy that covers illness more than injury. Is your pet accident-prone? Then more coverage for accidents may suit you.

Beside the catastrophic health conditions that the policy covers, here are some other items to consider in choosing a policy or company:

Do you want or need prescription drug or food coverage?

Is chronic (recurring) illness or injury covered? If your pet develops a condition that becomes chronic, will it still be covered when you renew? Some companies reset the pre-existing conditions and cut off coverage for chronic illness.

Are genetic conditions covered?

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