Listen: everyday...just in our little small town clinic...pets are "put to sleep" or have their legs amputated, or suffer debilitating illnesses INSTEAD OF RECEIVING SUCCESSFUL TREATMENT because of the reality that it will cost anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars in veterinary fees and medication.
Pleasant Surprise: Health Insurance for pets is quite unlike health insurance for people:
It's reasonably priced: most policies cost $200-700 per year depending on the plan and the age and condition of your pet.
The policy I recommend most (TruPanion) is simple, uncomplicated, and easy to understand. Other companies offer an array of choices and you may like that.
It's no hassle for either you or your vet: for most plans:
1. GO TO ANY VET, ANYWHERE, ANYTIME
2. You pay your vet.
3. You submit your vet's bill to the insurance company.
4. The Pet Insurance Company quickly reimburses you for all covered expenses.
Veterinarians have such a well deserved reputation for honesty and integrity that bills are rarely questioned...further reducing any hassle.
Let's get real:
Accidents, illnesses, bladder stones, cancer, diabetes, pancreatis, allergies, ligament tears, chronic ear infections, bee sting reactions, twisted bowels, heart disease, tooth abscesses ...and on an on...stuff happens. Luckily we vets can usually set things right.
Veterinary medicine for pets has become sophisticated and on a par with the high tech treatment available for humans.
But it costs money. Veterinary medicine is much less than comparable treatments for humans, but still, if your pet is badly injured or becomes sick, what with laboratory work, radiographs, ultra-sound, anesthesia, surgery, hospitalization, IV Fluids, and medication, typical vet bills run between several hundred and several thousand dollars for serious cases. Referral to a top specialty hospital costs every more.
It's all about responsibility.
Loving your pet is not enough.
Being a good pet owner is like everything else that's important...being a good wife or husband... a good parent... or a good citizen: In addition to the love, passion, benefits, and enjoyment of the good times there's a need for you to be there when the chips are down.
Anything good and noble requires a little work, effort, duty, planning ahead, preparation, and sacrifice from you.
As with most things in life; usually the rewards and satisfaction comes AFTER you do your part:
Some effort and expense making a safe, fun, and appropriate
environment for your pet
Budgeting time to spend (and enjoy) playing and exercising
Budgeting between $1-3 a day for food and treats
Budgeting about $1-3 a day for routine health care supplies
such as flea control, heartworm prevention, oral hygiene,
twice yearly vet wellness exams, vaccinations, etc
Being prepared to pay for unexpected illnesses and accidents. I'm
recommending you do this by budgeting about $1 a day for
And finally, it'll cost about another $1 a day for those pets
needing regular professional grooming.
It's all up to you.
Once you agree with the criteria above and you decide you're going to be a good responsible pet owner, it's just a matter of being realistic and prudent about the costs of pet ownership:
It may cost some money and effort to design a safe and comfortable place for your pet.
It's going to cost up to several hundred dollars each year, depending on the size of your pet, to provide a good diet.
It may cost up to several hundred dollars each year for grooming and skin care depending on the type of pet you have.
You might realistically expect to pay a several hundred dollars a year for effective flea control, heartworm prevention, dental products, and intestinal worm control.
Your pet should receive veterinary check ups and recommended vaccinations on a regular basis. Middle age and older pets can be expected to need occasional lab work ups and dental cleanings. Young pets should, in most cases be neutered. These things will cost several hundred dollars a year.
And finally, you should expect the HIGH PROBABILITY that your pet may get sick or injured. It happens all the time. Cancer is more common in pets than in people! Ear infections, bladder infections, and arthritis are COMMON. Many problems are recurring or long term problems.
It's a tiny bit ironic, but if you're a good responsible pet owner, it's likely that your pet will live to old age when it's more likely to need medical attention for one geriatric problem or another.
Veterinary care is a bargain, but still, it's going to cost a fair amount of money to deal with problems like the ones mentioned above.
Once you recognize the expenses of responsible pet care, it simply makes sense to take advantage of the pet insurance plans now available. Basically, it means that for $200-500 a year depending on the plan you choose and the age of your pet, your pet is covered for extensive veterinary care costing thousands should the need arise.
In addition, some of the plans also reimburse you for the costs of more common veterinary expenses including yearly check ups, vaccinations, prescription flea control, dental cleanings, routine lab work etc. With these plans, you "get back" much of your premium that you would likely have spent anyways...the difference being that you're also insured for big, unexpected problems.
There are several well established and trustworthy companies providing pet insurance now, and I encourage you to take the next step; check out their web pages and buy a policy. Or ask your vet. Most of us have become enthusiastic about pet insurance and have brochures available.
(By the way, vets don't receive commissions or anything of that sort when we recommend insurance plans...we simply know that many pets are euthanized or go without needed care when expensive accidents and illnesses occur...a problem that would be greatly improved if more people planned ahead and were prudent enough to purchase insurance BEFORE it was needed.)
On This Page:
My thoughts on Pet Insurance... this section includes a discussion about responsible pet ownership, the benefits of pet insurance, and the costs.
Negative comments from the gallery.
A little about the different plans available and links to their sites
When your pet is hurting...
The last thing you want to worry about is how much the bill is going to be.
There is a complete site map at the bottom of this page
Over the life time of your pet, you will probably have to pay for at least one of the diseases listed below ...
Because of this fact, most pet owners with pet insurance will recover much of the premiums they pay over the life of the pet, and more important, their pet will be covered when something truely expensive occurs.
Cardiology Heart disease in Cats, Cardiac Hypertrophy, Valvular disease, Cardiac Insufficiency, Congestive Heart Failure, Heartworm Disease, and a little history about the milestones in treating heart disease
Cats: general information page and directory of diseases and problems specific to cats including vaccine recommendations, leukemia, feline viral infections, feline upper respiratory disease and cats that just aren't feeling well.
1. Common sense over frivolous emotional desires: not to get a pet at all if you don't have the appropriate setting, time, or money to devote to a living creature.
2. A safe and comfortable setting.
3. Decent food and water on a regular basis.
4. An appropriate place to eliminate bodily wastes
5. Exercise, play, and frequent companionship
6. Enough time and effort spent on training, if you have
a dog, to make him or her a joy to be around rather than an aggrivation to everyone.
7. A plan and preparation for those times when you need to leave your pet for extended periods such as vacations, job assignments, funerals, weddings, and so forth.
8. Grooming Care if needed. Pets are miserable if heavily matted or suffering from dry, flakey skin or seborrhea.
9. Neutering: Unless you really plan on breeding your pet and taking on all the extra responsibilities of that project, neutering your pet prevents all kinds of health and anxiety problems for your pet, all kinds of nuisance problems for you and your community such as roaming and biting, and it eliminates unwanted litters. Remember that each and every county KILLS HUNDREDS of pets each month.
10. Health Care. Without vaccinations and treatment for illnesses and injuries, most animals would die at a young age or live in pain and misery. We expect a good responsible pet owner to provide regular veterinary check ups, recommended vaccinations, parasite control, and veterinary health care when injuries and illnesses occur. And now that we know the importance of gum health, we expect good pet owners to provide dental care for their pets on a regular basis as needed.
Pet insurance is relatively new. I've been told that several companies have dropped their pet plans or have gone out of business. So stick with a well established company. One ones I know about are listed below.
Understand that there are many, many companies that SELL insurance policies under various nice sounding names for pets. But the policies are backed by one of the big underwriters. I recommend buying directly from the big, well established companies listed below.
I've provided some links below to the major, stable companies offering pet insurance. Or of course, you can just Google in Pet Insurance and get a slew of offerings.
BIG WARNING: there are lots of multi-level type sales people selling what they call pet insurance but is really just a discount club good for a free exam and a discount off certain services from some vets trying to drum up new business. But it's NOT insurance. Be careful in what you buy.
The less expensive plans exclude routine or preventive surgeries such as neutering or dentistry and annual exams or vaccines...they're designed to cover UNEXPECTED injuries and illnesses.
And of course, most policies exclude pre-existing conditions, and have limits and deductibles...you might consider that a negative...or just the facts of life.
One other thing; your vet is very unlikely to lie for those of you with multiple pets trying to use the insurance from one pet for another... you need to buy a separate policy for each pet. (Multipet discounts are offered, though)
Links to Pet Insurance Sites:
VPI Veterinary Pet Insurance: One of the biggest and oldest of companies offering pet insurance in the US. Prepare for the unexpected by insuring your dog or cat with affordable major medical coverage. Get a free online quote now and start protecting your family pets today.
One of their plans includes...without deductible...a generous amount for annual exams, vaccinations, dentistry, lab work, and even prescription flea and heartworm control.
24 Pet Watch - PetCare Insurance Company: Another trusted and major company providing insurance for pet owners in Canada and select American states. Covers the large, unexpected veterinary medical bills if your pet is sick or injured.
This company also provides a plan called ShelterCare which is wonderful; it provides free of charge, the first two months of pet insurance for those pets adopted from a shelter that covers up to $500 for things like colds, kennel cough, diarrhea, wounds, accidents and so forth that are quite common in pets after being in a shelter. They are hoping, of course, that you will continue the insurance after the two free months.
Pet Plan: a major pet insurance provider in The United Kingdom and Canada, and now available in the United States.
TruPanion Pet Insurance: This company was the first to earn AAHA (American Animal Hospital Assoc) acceptance. TruPanion claims to be the best choice because of no payout limits, higher payouts, fast approval, no penalties for submitting claims, and for having fair premiums.
This is my favorite company to recommend, because I like the simplicity of their policy. They only offer 1 policy. It doesn't cover exams, preventive care, vaccines, routine dental cleanings or other routine vet visits. It doesn't cover pre-existing problems. Other companies include some of these things in some of their policies, but of course, there's a cost ... either in higher premiums or with capped payouts, or exclusions for this, and exclusions for that.
With the TruPanion policy, while it doesn't pay for exams and preventive medicine ... stuff you can plan for ... what it does cover is pretty much everything else without limits or exclusions. It pays 90% after your deductible. You pay 10% of the remaining bill.
The premium is based on just 4 simple criteria:
1. Your pet's age
2. Your pet's breed
3. What part of the country you live in (Vet care is a lot more expensive in
New York City than in my town of Seneca, South Carolina)
4. The deductible you choose. Your choice of $0 to $1000.
All you have to decide is how big a deductible you want, and whether or not to purchase the insurance.
This is a company with a reputation for no gimmicks. There are no exclusions for certain diseases, there are no limits to how much they'll pay for certain diseases. Your premium stays the same for the life of the pet (except for possible across the board increases to everyone for inflation) no matter how often you make a claim.
You can cancel at any time.
Veterinary specialty and university hospitals now offer CAT Scans, MRI, and radiation therapy for cancer. Great benefit to the health care of your pet when needed. But quite expensive.
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