Owning a pet is very affordable…until it isn’t. An injury or illness can quickly put a severe strain on your financial wellbeing. In fact, many owners of multiple pets are forced to ration care among their furry friends because of the skyrocketing cost of veterinary care. Needed treatments and procedures are often delayed and that’s never a good result for your canine companions. To be sure, there’s no worse feeling than not being able to give your pet the quality care that he or she needs and deserves.
To avoid this dilemma, many pet owners are opting to purchase pet health insurance for their pets. The burgeoning popularity of pet health insurance suggests that more and more pet owners view such insurance as an affordable solution. The best time to get health insurance, according to our informal survey of pet policyholders, is while your pet is young and healthy. Wait longer and your pet’s age and “pre-existing conditions” may conspire to reduce your available coverage. In fact, many insurance plans will not cover older pets or pets with pre-existing conditions.
According to Susan Markham, of VPI Pet Insurance, “managing your pet’s well being with a pet health insurance policy provides you the freedom to make decisions based on your veterinarian’s recommendation rather than the cost of service.” An additional benefit, Markham adds, is being able to “stress less about the vet bills and focus on your furry companion’s needs.” Markham’s company, VPI, is the oldest pet insurance company in the U.S. and lists “Lassie” (yes, that Lassie) as their first canine policy beneficiary.
Markham relates that a good pet policy covers much of the cost of veterinary care necessitated by accidents or illnesses, including hospitalizations and prescriptions. With certain plans, Markham adds, even “well-pet” bi-annual checkups and vaccinations are covered.
Many people believe that, over time, the cost of pet insurance will often end up equaling the amount of money that they might spend on veterinary care over the life of their pet. The problem with that logic is that very few pet owners put the money saved by not paying premiums in the cookie jar for a rainy day. So, when that money is needed for an illness or emergency, it’s simply not there. All-encompassing “policy limitations” are another justification made by many would-be pet health insurance purchasers for not purchasing the insurance. VPI’s Markham acknowledges those concerns and stresses the importance of choosing the right health insurance plan for your pet with a company you can trust. She notes that with VPI’s plans, policyholders are not restricted to a list of veterinarians or localities like some human health insurance plans. Such limitations, she adds, can effectively reduce your coverage or force you to choose providers with whom you are not comfortable.
If it has been a few years since you’ve investigated pet health insurance, you owe it to yourself to take another look. Good old-fashioned competition, and ever increasing numbers of policyholders, means that pet health insurance companies are offering better benefits than ever before. It’s a brave new world for pet owners. For pet’s sake, give pet health insurance another look!