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Your four-legged companion has been with you through thick and thin. Family emergencies, personal crises, outdoor treks, tears and laughter, good news and bad — all he/she required is some food and water and a comfortable lap to sleep on. But just as with humans, pets can get sick or injured. No matter how much you love Fluffy or Spot, a visit to the veterinarian can set you back more than a few dollars. With a serious illness or injury, bills can run into five figures.
According to data from Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) posted on www.consumerreports.org, the 10 most common claims last year were for relatively minor ailments–eye, ear, and skin infections; benign tumors; and digestive and urinary-tract ailments–and a handful of more serious problems. Costs for most of those averaged $100 to $200, but the highest bills for every type of illness ran from $600 to $4,400. If you are a pet owner, you may want to consider purchasing pet insurance.
Just as with human health insurance, you need to begin by asking some questions. Are there different deductibles? How about any co-pays? Does the coverage max out at any point? Do I pay up front and get reimbursed or does the vet bill the insurance company directly? Do I have to use a veterinarian in a network, or can I use any veterinarian?
Also, some animals have certain hereditary conditions and can be more susceptible to particular ailments. Will treatments associated with that be covered? Many policies won’t pay for elective procedures. Ask if the policy has renewable benefits — if your pet receives treatment for a covered condition during the policy term, some companies will consider it a pre-existing condition when the policy renews and will not cover the condition in the renewal policy.
Sit down with your insurance professional and go over the different coverages. Then pick one that suits your needs and wallet. There are plenty of web sites you can visit to learn about pet insurance, some have good information and some do not. Remember that your greatest resource for straight talk on insurance is your agent or broker.