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Comparing Pet Insurance Plans
Most pets will require veterinary care beyond basic health care at some point during their lifetimes. Pets owners naturally want to keep their pets as healthy as possible, and pet insurance can help with expensive vet bills.
If you're good at putting away "emergency" funds then you may not need pet insurance. Many people, however, find that unanticipated vet bills can cause a real financial strain. Pet insurance isn't cheap but it's one way to plan for unexpected veterinary care and for some people, it's peace of mind knowing that insurance will pay part or all of the costs should your pet require vet care.
Consider the following as you decide whether pet insurance is right for you. Compare different plans and shop around with several companies.
- Plans (and prices) vary widely. Some plans only cover certain types of vet care due to illness or accidents, while others will also include regular checkups and vaccinations.
- What's the deductible?
- Is there a maximum payable amount? Find out whether the maximum claim is for a certain type of care, or if there's a total maximum claim per term. For instance, a plan might cover up to $2000 in bills for emergency surgery due to an accident... but the same plan might only allow a maximum claimed amount of $2000 per year, too. That means you would have to pay the bill if your pet were to require any additional care during the same year.
- What percentage of your bills are covered? Does it vary with what type of vet care is provided? For instance, a plan might cover 100% (less your deductible) for accidents, but only 50% for routine exams.
- Check whether elective surgery is covered. For example, insurance may cover surgery to repair a broken bone if your dog is hit by a car - but it may not cover a "voluntary" or non-critical surgery even though you consider it essential to your pet's quality of life.
- Pre-existing conditions are usually not covered. That means if your pet already has an illness you likely won't be able to claim the treatment expense.
- Find out when coverage begins. Some insurance plans have a waiting period. For instance, if your dog got hit by a car today, you couldn't sign up for insurance and expect them to pay the bill.
- Age is sometimes a factor. Pet insurance plans often will not cover very young pets or old pets, and if they do, the plans may be much more expensive.
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