Most animal lovers agree that pets are members of the family. Usually, pet owners will do anything to make sure their furry friends are healthy and happy. Unfortunately, providing pets with medical care can be quite expensive. Pet insurance can help in certain circumstances. Read on to learn more about your options when it comes to pet insurance.
How Pet Insurance Works
Anyone who has had a beloved pet suffer from an illness or injury knows that the cost of veterinary services can be extremely expensive. Surgeries can cost thousands of dollars, and, cancer treatments for a pet can easily cost upwards of $5,000.
The goal behind pet insurance is to provide coverage for a portion of your pet's vet bills, so you won't one day be forced to make the difficult decision of "economic euthanasia" when you can't afford treatment for your pet. Pet insurance has become increasingly popular, and is even being offered by employers as an optional employee benefit.
Pet insurance helps you manage unexpected veterinary bills by reimbursing you for the cost of care if your pet has an accident or becomes ill. Legally, although pets are often bona fide members of the family, they are viewed as property, not as people. For this reason, insurance views pet insurance more like property insurance than health insurance.
Pet Insurance Coverage
Pet insurance involves different levels of deductibles, copayments, and premiums, depending on the policy you choose. However, unlike with human health insurance, usually you'll have to pay any incurred veterinary bills in full up front, and then seek reimbursement from your pet insurance company.
The level of coverage available to you will likely differ depending on your pet. Certain breeds cost more to insure. For example, insurance for purebreds tends to cost more because some breeds are prone to hereditary health conditions. Age comes into play as well, as older pets are more expensive to insure.
When selecting a pet insurance policy, you can decide if you want a policy that covers accidents only (usually involving motor vehicles), or both accidents and illness (including conditions like arthritis, cancer, and colitis). Some plans will even cover wellness visits and checkups, including annual exams, flea and tick treatments, and vaccinations.
Limitations on Pet Coverage
Pet insurance has some limitations. For example, pets with pre-existing conditions often won't qualify for pet insurance (or the premiums will be prohibitively expensive). Like some human health insurance policies, some pet insurance policies also have a waiting period. For this reason, you can't take out a pet insurance policy immediately after finding out that your pet needs a costly procedure. Waiting periods will vary by state, but generally they are 24 to 48 hours for accidents and 14 days to 1 year for illnesses. Pet insurance also has limits for maximum payouts, which may be determined per incident, per year, or over the life of the policy.
Is Pet Insurance Worth the Cost?
It can be difficult to predict if it's cost effective for you to pay pet insurance premiums. In many ways, it's a gamble. You may end up having a relatively healthy pet, and the cost you pay out of pocket for vet bills is ultimately less than you would have paid in pet insurance premiums. However, if have had a pet who ends up having a costly condition, illness, or accident, it may have been worth it to pay for pet insurance over the years.
Typically, it makes the most sense to invest in pet insurance while your pet is still young and the premiums cost less. Then, you are covered for any extraordinary health expenses that could arise during the pet's lifetime. One alternative to formal pet insurance is to use the funds you would have paid towards insurance premiums and deposit them into pet "emergency fund" to be used towards veterinary care or in the case of unexpected extraordinary expenses.
Get Legal Help with Pet Insurance
Insurance issues can be complex, and there are many options available. Occasionally, legal problems arise with insurance, such as denial of a claim or coverage. If you have legal questions about pet insurance, you may want to consider speaking with an experienced lawyer practicing insurance law.