Let me start by saying that when our Gordon Setter MacDuff developed cancer about 6 years ago, it cost us almost $8,000 to keep him alive for an additional nine months. This was all out-of-pocket since we did not have pet insurance. Suffice to say, it would be a smart thing to consider getting insurance. Basically, your Homeowners Insurance will cover any liability in case your dog injures someone. But Pet Insurance is designed to cover any pet-related medical costs.
You’ll find that most pet insurance can cover almost all of your costs, whether your dog or cat breaks a leg, or needs long-term care. And fortunately, the premiums for this type of insurance are not that expensive, especially if you purchase it while your pet is still young. Depending on the insurance you purchase and the coverage you select, you normally can continue to use your regular vet, and you have the option of deciding whether your protection covers routine care, as well as emergency and/or long-term care. In addition, the coverage may cover medicines, tests, x-rays, lab fees, surgery, and even spaying or neutering.
What should you look for?
When purchasing pet insurance, make sure it covers some of the following conditions:
1. Long-term cancer treatments
2. Congenital Defects that your dog was born with. Things like Hip Dysplasia often don’t show up until years later.
3. When you purchase the insurance, will it cover pre-existing conditions, especially if your pet is a little older?
4. Do they cover illnesses caused by breed specific or genetic conditions?
- Dogs: Heart disease (Cavalier Dobermans, King Charles Spaniels), cancer (Boxers), hip/elbow dysplasia (Shepherds, Golden Retrievers), epilepsy (Shepherds, Dachshunds)?
- Cats: retinal dystrophy (Abyssinians), Chediak-Higashi syndrome (Persians), diabetes, glaucoma and hypokalaemic myopathy (Burmese).
5. Will they cover age-related illnesses, such as arthritis?
What’s in your policy?
1. What kind of coverage are you looking for? Will it cover both accidents and illness?
2. How much is the premium?
3. What is the deductible? Like personal medical insurance, is this based on an annual claim, or for the life of the pet?
4. How much will you have to pay out-of-pocket? Is there a “co-pay” amount?
5. What are the restrictions (see above)?
6. Will your pet be covered if you travel out of state or out of the country?
7. What about pregnancy? At-home delivery or at the vets?
8. Is standard care, such as annual check-ups and vaccinations included?
The best time to purchase pet insurance is when your pet is young. It will keep your premiums low since it’s likely he or she is healthy. You can also control these costs by being selective about what options you choose.
Bottom line—you can protect your dog as best as you can, but over the life of your pet, it’s likely that as he or she gets older, things like injuries will happen, pregnancies may occur, and generally getting old is painful for people as well as pets. If you’ve ever had to pay for an injury to your dog or cat, you find that in the long run, pet insurance protects you too.