Given the rising costs of veterinary care, more owners are purchasing health insurance policies for their pets than ever before. Buying health insurance for your pet is a lot like buying health insurance for yourself; there are many companies offering different plans. There are many things to consider when purchasing an insurance policy for your pet.

First, what exactly does the plan cover? Some plans will only cover expenses incurred in case of an accident, but most will cover illness as well as accidents. A few will also cover well-pet care such as exams, vaccines, and spaying and neutering. Be sure that whatever policy you buy does not exclude any breed-specific or hereditary conditions. Check to see if the policy covers items such as annual visits/exams, blood tests, dental care, medications, care of chronic conditions and treatment for cancer. Some will only cover such items if you pay extra for them. Make sure that there are no age limits. Some won’t cover a pet younger than eight weeks of age and some won’t cover pets past a certain age.

Consider the deductible. Choosing a plan with a lower deductible will mean higher monthly payments. On the other hand, a plan with a higher deductible will reduce your monthly payments. Find out if there is a co-pay that you must pay per visit or treatment. This would not be included in the deductible. If you have more than one pet, find out if they offer multiple pet discounts. Some companies will also offer a discount if you pay for 12 months of coverage up front, instead of making monthly payments.

Find out if there are caps or limits on the policy. Some plans will have “per incident” or “annual” caps and will not cover anything above these limits. What percentage of a treatment or service is covered? Some services may be 100% covered, while other services are only 80% covered.

Pet owners should know that they are expected to pay their veterinarian at the time of service and then file a claim with the insurance company for reimbursement. Veterinarians do not receive payment from insurance companies. A reputable pet insurance company will pay the claim in a reasonable amount of time, usually within 30 days from receipt of request and all appropriate paperwork.

There are clauses in pet insurance policies concerning rate increases at the time of renewal. Any increases can be the result of many factors, such as the cost of veterinary care and inflation. Unfortunately, the insurance company may opt to increase your rates or even cancel your policy if your pet has had extensive vet care or they acquire a chronic condition requiring on-going treatment.

More companies are offering pet health insurance. It is important to know the reputation of the company you are considering purchasing a policy from. Your veterinary office is a good place to start. They should be able to give you the names of the most reputable companies. Of course, the internet is a good source for reviews and information on the various insurance companies. One excellent website is www.petinsurancereview.com. Here you will find a side-by-side comparison of all the companies out there and the policies they offer in the US, Canada and the UK. There are also reviews from consumers that are very helpful. The search for a good health insurance policy for your pet can be somewhat daunting, but if you persevere, you will find the right policy for your pet’s needs.

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