Pawfect Pet Insurance
It causes some to smirk and say, “Yeah, right,” while to others, it makes perfect sense. Pet health insurance is a symbol of just how important animals have become in our lives.
When your pets truly become part of your family, it can be devastating to be faced with the choice of withholding medical care for them because of the high financial costs. As with human healthcare, new treatments are being developed every day to fight cancer and other terminal illnesses that also affect animals.
Pet insurance may be the answer for those who want to give their animals the best in medical care, no matter the cost. With a variety of plans from which to choose, pet insurance can cover everything from routine visits to accident treatment to long-term illnesses. Most pet insurance companies reimburse clients according to the terms of their coverage after the veterinarian performs treatment, and it is completely up to the client to decide what type of care you want for your pet.
Dr. Julia Esposito of Clermont Animal Hospital estimates that five percent of her clients in Cincinnati use pet health insurance, but when she practiced in New York City in 2001 to 2003 that number was much higher. “It is a growing trend,” Esposito says, and in general, her customers are happy with the insurance they use.
About six million new cancer diagnoses are made each year for both dogs and cats, according to Pets Health Care. Dogs visit the veterinarian an average of 2.8 times each year, while cats average 2.3 visits annually. Routine visits alone cost dog owners $211 per year and $179 for cat owners, while annual surgery visits average an additional $574 for dogs and $334 for cats.
Plans like Pets Health Care, a strategic partner with American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, allow clients to use any licensed veterinarian in the United States or in Canada, and they allow pets of any age to enroll in accident coverage. Like human health insurance, pet insurance has deductibles, monthly premiums, and maximum benefits per incident and per year.
“Insurance companies such as Veterinary Pet Insurance offer incentives if you start a policy within the first year of your pet’s life. That helps avoid the problem of pre-existing conditions, and animals that receive regular care are less likely to need costly illness treatments later on in life,” Esposito says. “It’s their way of encouraging owners to get routine check-ups for their pets.”
A quick Google search will result in dozens of companies offering pet insurance, and you can also discuss company and plan options with your veterinarian. Shop around to find the plan that best fits your needs, as plans vary widely from company to company. Be sure to understand their policies on things like pre-existing conditions and routine care so that you don’t have any unpleasant surprises.
Esposito advises people considering health insurance to read the fine print of all the policies they consider, and to do a little math before signing on the dotted line.
“Depending on the types of animals you have and the extent to which you’re willing to go to keep them healthy, determine whether it’s more cost effective to invest in insurance or to start a savings account that can be used for your pet’s medical bills,” she says.
Photo: Neysa Ruhl Photography
Location: The McAlpin
Models: Amy Storer-Scalia and Dino