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Is Pet Insurance Right For You and Your Dog?

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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Is Pet Insurance Right for You and Your Dog?

Have you considered pet insurance for you dog? I get a lot of questions from clients and my readers about pet insurance. Is it right for you? What do you need to consider?

The word "insurance" often evokes feelings of stress in many of us. Insurance companies seem to have confusing policies with a variety of rates and sometimes it is difficult to determine if we need it, what we need and if it is a good value. I'll try to help you determine if pet insurance is right for you.

First, let's step back and consider..."what is insurance?" Insurance is a form of risk management used to minimize the risk of financial loss. Pet insurance pays costs if your dog needs veterinary care.

The purpose of pet insurance is to ensure you can properly care for and treat your dog when an unexpected medical problem occurs. Pet insurance offers you the security of knowing that you can do the best you can for you dog without the burden of financial considerations. Financial concerns often cause dog owners to make a decision to euthanize their dogs when unexpected and unaffordable expenses take place.

So...how do you decide if pet insurance is right for you and your dog?

It really comes down to a financial decision. If your dog was unexpectedly hit by a car and required emergency veterinary care estimated at...say $5,000.00, could you do it? If you could without a problem, then you probably don't need pet insurance.

If the $5,000.00 expense (or more) would be a big burden or you would need to consider euthanasia because you could not afford the care, then I'd strongly consider pet insurance.

I find dog owners with pet insurance often feel relieved when something does happen. They don't have to make tough life-or-death decision about what happens to their dog.

They can try to do the best thing by treating their dog without the pressure of financial considerations. As a veterinarian, I actually find it a relief as well because I know I can do the best for their dog without compromising care.

There are different types of policies. What are some of the differences in policies?

Some policies pay only for medical problems or accidents; others will also pay for preventative health care such as spays, neuters, parasite control and vaccinations.

Some policies will cap the total sum they pay out in a year or have a cap on a particular disease or accident/event. Other companies don't.

The amount and type of benefits you choose will affect the premium. For example - many companies will offer you a deductible. The higher the deductible, the lower your premium. Some companies will offer different reimbursements. If you choose a low deductible and a higher reimbursement - your premium will be higher. If you choose a higher deductible and a lower percentage reimbursement then your premium will be lower. Most companies offer a variety of policies to fit in to different household budgets.

Most companies will require that you pay the bill and then they reimburse you.

The number of dog owners with pet insurance is growing. The number of companies offering insurance is also growing. In the U.S., approximately 2 to 3 % of pets now have health insurance, which is up from just 1% a few years ago. Pet insurance is very popular in other
countries such as the U.K. where more than half of all pets have pet insurance.

Pet insurance companies will give you basic information as well as estimates of your premiums for what you want and your specific pet. Policies are generally less expensive for puppies and premiums may increase for older dogs.

I hope this gives you a little more information about pet insurance and help you determine if it is right for you. Being able to afford medical care when they need it is critical to maintaining a healthy dog.


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