Should You Get Insurance for Your Pet?
In the life of any pet owner, one of the most important concerns is always the health of their beloved animal. How do you provide top quality care for the pet with limited financial resources? For many, we simply hold out hope that our pets will not succumb to illness and avoid trips to the veterinarian.
The average price of a visit to the vet for animal medical care for dog owners is now close to $250, and routine visits to the vet for owners of cats is close to $219 per year according to the 2011 – 2012 National Pet Owners Survey that was conducted by the American Pet Association.
In the United States alone, there are currently close to 160 million cats and dogs living with owners.
Out of this large number, however, only 1% of the owners have pet insurance to cover the cost of the many unexpected emergencies that can arise during the lifetime of the pet.
Medical care for animals has improved exponentially over the years with specialty fields that were normally reserved for human patients now available for our furry companions. There are ophthalmologists, neurologists, and oncology specialists that are great, but are constantly increasing the cost of providing health care for dogs and cats. Many of the corrective surgery procedures now available cost upwards of $1,000 for such diverse conditions as gastric torsion, foreign body ingestion, and cataracts for elderly dogs.
In the case of such potential financial calamities, it only seems prudent that the responsible pet owner takes out some form of insurance to provide for the well-being of their charge.
Pet Insurance Basics
When is the best time to take out a policy for your pet? Most likely, it is when you first acquire them.
The thing to remember about health insurance is that you don’t buy it hoping that a calamity occurs and vindicates all the money that you spent over the years paying premiums. It is not something that you could call an investment by any means. Health insurance is something you buy to protect yourself from a catastrophic financial loss in case something goes terribly wrong. And in our imperfect world things most certainly will do just that.
The premiums that you pay for pet insurance provide a safety cushion that can mean the difference between having the correct treatment done for your pet or an agonizing decision about how this will affect your finances. When or if your pet becomes sick, it is so much better for your peace of mind to be able to not worry about the cost and just do what is needed to preserve the health of your best friend.
What Are a Dog’s Insurance Needs?
It is certainly not a bad idea for all dogs to have insurance coverage. However, for the most part, dogs that are young are generally healthy and have few medical issues. As the dog matures it is more likely to have health problems similar to a human approaching their senior years. As the dog approaches its final years, the pet insurance policy that you take out will be more advantageous and provide value as there are more visits for age-related problems.
It is important to get the insurance for your dog before certain problems develop. If you wait too long, the insurance company may exclude your dog’s ailment as a pre-existing condition that is caused by its advanced years. It could even preclude the obtaining of a policy.
It is quite possible that a younger pet could develop a pathological condition at an early age that would require multiple visits to the vet and result in very large bills over the course of its life. These conditions can be ruinous for an owner without the proper coverage.
What about Kittens and Puppies?
When you first purchase your new companion, there are many costs associated with this. You have to purchase special food, toys to keep them occupied, and all sorts of vaccinations, bedding and all the various paraphernalia that accompanies pet ownership. Many owners delay buying insurance in the belief that the pet will be healthy for many years to come.
The problem is that newborn dogs and cats often have compromised immune systems that cause illnesses that result in thousands of dollars of treatments at the vets. Having pet insurance from the onset will give the owner the peace of mind to enjoy their pet knowing that if a medical condition does arise, it will not cause undue strain to their financial resources.
One could always self-insure by putting away a set amount of money in order to cover unexpected illnesses and injuries, but few people possess the sort of discipline required to do this.
What Happens When Dogs and Cats Become Seniors?
Even with the nest of care, our pet’s age just as we do and as they do they become more likely to become sick even with the finest care. This is the time when most people consider getting a policy for their pet. The problem with this is that most insurance companies will not take out a policy on a pet over the age of 8 years old. The actuaries know that this is the time when it is most likely that they will have to pay out and that’s now how insurance companies make profits. That’s why you should always get a policy as soon as possible in the pet’s life span because the company will continue to cover the animal until it passes.
If you do get a policy for an older pet always be careful to read what coverage is excluded for pre-existing conditions.
Is Pet Insurance Right for Me?
Only you know your financial situation. If you can absorb multi-thousand dollar bills for medical care for your pet without flinching, then go ahead and self-insure. For many people, however, the sudden shock of an unexpected big expense for a pet medical procedure can lead to an agonizing decision. The most important thing to remember is that if you are going to get pet insurance, do it early in the lifetime of your pet.