Why Your Pet Needs Health Insurance

The question is really to be prepared for the worst. You need pet health insurance and hope never to have to use it. Having pet health insurance and not needing it is so much better than needing it and not having it.

Molly Bee was a very cute, sweet and absolutely wonderful West Highland Terrier. When she came into my life at 12 weeks old I assumed it was best for her since I got her from a reputable AKC breeder. I had no idea what awaited her. I was not prepared for the thousands of dollars I would spend in vain trying to save her life.

Molly Bee developed a hereditary condition that caused her liver to shut down. It was so devastating that our good vet told me her test numbers were higher than he had ever seen. I prayed (and paid) until I could pray and pay no more. Molly Bee had to be put to sleep when she was just 18 months old. I was devastated and lost thousands of dollars. I remembered the pet health insurance flyer I had read when I was at her doctor’s office, vowing that I would never go without pet health insurance again.

Here are six helpful tips on what you might need to know about this topic. To remind: Having pet health insurance and not needing it is so much better than needing it and not having it.

Most people don’t consider their pet’s breed, its nature, whether or not that breed leads an active or sedentary lifestyle, and how neighborhood children or other animals, both wild and domestic, might interact with their pet. Small children can be a real danger, and that Rottweiler that lives down the street or that Coyote from the open space park could rack up a $1,000 vet bill with one bite of your Jack Russell Terrier.

1. Be sure to read the brochure!

Like human health insurance, there are all kinds of plans to fit your budget. Most pet health insurance plans offer 80% coverage (a 20% deductible or perhaps a $100 initial treatment threshold), which can increase along with your monthly premiums. For about $12.95 USD per month, you can insure your pet for most accidents and the costs associated with treating it in an emergency. You’ll probably be better off paying, or out of pocket, for routine pet health care, vaccinations, and the like.

2. When does the cover start?

Often there is a waiting period, usually 14 – 30 days, before your pet health insurance coverage begins. Make sure your vet has properly documented your pet’s good health at their last visit, so it can be said that there were no pre-existing conditions (or that this condition has been waived or insured). A good time to purchase pet health insurance is right after that vet visit.

3. Can I choose my own vet?

Most plans allow you to choose your own pet care provider, especially in an emergency. I suggest you talk to your vet about what insurance programs he or she accepts for usual or usual and urgent pet health care.

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4. Every year 6 million dogs and 6 million cats are diagnosed with cancer. Does my insurance cover those costs?

Be sure to read your pet health insurance policy to see what is or is not covered. You can often add certain coverages to your insurance policy for extra premiums. For more information, contact your network provider.

5. Are there any age requirements or restrictions for pet health insurance?

Yes, most plans do not cover the first eight to 12 weeks of your pet’s life. Some plans are limited to pets up to 12 years old (varies with your pet’s age at the time of insurance purchase) and have different limits based on your pet’s breed. Great Danes, for example, usually don’t live past about 8 years. And I’ve had cats live to be 20 years old! Most policies impose age and/or race restrictions on their coverage.

6. But I have more than one pet! Can I save by insuring them all?

Yes, most plans offer a discount (often 10% per pet) when you insure your entire “family”.

Finally, you should carefully consider all health insurance options for your pets. Not being insured at all is downright irresponsible. If your pet needs emergency care and you can’t afford that care, contact your local humane society or ASPCA for assistance.

Remember that pet health insurance doesn’t have to be expensive, isn’t limited to a single vet, isn’t complicated to use, can cover general care or checkups, and can be applied for online!

In any case, we are happy to answer your questions about this important decision. Send us an email or comment on this article and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.