By William Given
Pet health insurance has been around much longer than most people believe, more than 85 years. The first pet insurance policy was written for a dog in Sweden in 1924. In 1982, the first pet health insurance policy issued in the United States was sold to cover television’s canine super-star, Lassie. The concept of pet health insurance to cover the medical needs of their dogs is still relatively new to many owners, but it continues to grow here in the United States.
Policies may be purchased for dogs in order to help you pay your veterinary bills. The real benefit of pet health insurance is that it reduces the risk of incurring unexpected and significant expenses necessary to treat an ill or injured dog or a dog newly diagnosed with a disease. The policies can help ensure that as a dog owner, you can provide the best medical care for your pet. The insurance may also prevent the dog owner from being faced with hard decisions like, do I pay the vet bill and skip the car payment, or the even harder decision, do I pay the vet bill or put off the mortgage payment. It can be very stressful to choose between your pet’s health care needs and paying your other bills on time.
There are quite a few different pet health insurance companies now that provide coverage for dogs. A few of the more well known companies today include; Embrace, Healthy Paws, and PetPlan. Trupanion is a relatively new but trusted company, and the oldest and largest company is Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI). The AKC and ASPCA also have pet health insurance plans worth considering. While encouraging as it is, it may be difficult for a dog owner to decide which pet health insurance company best suits their needs. Most companies do not cover pre-existing medical conditions, which is one of the biggest drawbacks to pet health insurance. Protection that covers long-term medical conditions and emergency visits may be purchased. Most companies now cover preventive health and routine visits, and that was not always the case.
Most companies will provide you with a free quote that is tailored to the breed, age and sex of your dog, and general health. The cost, or monthly premium, should be competitive for similar coverage. It is important to do your research on each company and compare their policies, to ensure that you are aware of the policy features that each firm provides. Policy features will vary and may vary greatly. Some policies cover dental care, prescription drugs, and alternative treatments such as acupuncture and physical therapy. Some policies exclude congenital and hereditary conditions such as heart defects, eye diseases, and hip or elbow dysplasia. Policies may also have limits or caps on them that are applied on a per incident or per year basis, or over the pet’s lifetime. Also, most pet health insurance companies require a separate deductible for each dog.
Many dog owners naturally assume that pet health insurance is just a variation of human health insurance. That is not the case, pet health insurance is actually considered to be property insurance. As such, the bill must be paid out-of-pocket to the veterinarian and then the pet owner submits a claim for reimbursement to the insurance company. Some insurers pay veterinarians directly on the behalf of their customers.
If you remain uncertain that pet health insurance will meet your needs, you do have another choice. Some dog owners choose to open a pet health savings account that may be used as necessary to pay for their pet’s health care needs. However, many dog owners may find this option harder because of the discipline required to regularly make deposits and avoid making withdrawals for items other than vet bills.
Our dogs are an important part of our lives and many of us consider them to be members of the family. They depend on us and it is our responsibility to provide for their safety and health care needs. As veterinary medicine continues to use ever increasingly more advanced and expensive technology, use new medications, increase the standards of health care for animals, the costs of care will only go up. It is a good idea to be prepared for the unexpected accident or illness, to ensure that our pets are covered when they need medical attention. Our dogs are worth it.