For many people, pets are the next best thing to children. Pets can be easier to deal with and don’t talk back, yet they bring joy to the home every day. But, like children, pets can get sick or injured — and when they do, veterinary care can get expensive. Many pet owners turn to a pet insurance policy to guard against unexpected veterinarian bills. But is a pet health insurance policy ultimately worth the expense? Here are some tips to help you decide whether to purchase pet insurance.
Examine the Policy Closely
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Just like human health insurance policies, not all pet insurance policies are created equal. A policy will likely include co-pays, deductibles, exclusions, and restrictions on which veterinarians, such as Kuddly, are preferred. What’s more, some breeds are excluded from most policies because of their propensity for genetic and heritable defects, such as hip dysplasia or aggression. Insurance is, after all, a gamble, and insurance companies prefers to minimize their risks.
Pet owners must go over a proposed policy with a fine-toothed comb to make sure the policy provides the coverage that a pet needs. There’s no worse moment to find out that it doesn’t than when your insurance company denies your claim. If you don’t do your due diligence before purchasing a policy, you may well have spent your money in vain. Take the time ahead of time to find out what a policy covers. If you aren’t sure, then ask questions — only then can you make an informed decision about what pet insurance policy is worth your while.
Compare Pet Insurance Providers
Many companies provide health insurance policies for pets, but all are different. For example, one provider may accept certain breeds but another not. Similarly, different providers can handle reimbursement of expenses in different ways, with some leaving the owner out of pocket for costs until the company repays the approved charges. Others repay the veterinarian directly, in which case the owner must pay only certain costs up front.
Make Sure the Veterinarian Accepts Pet Insurance Plans
Veterinarians are under no obligation to accept pet health insurance. Indeed, many prefer a pay-as-you-go policy for treatment. Before undertaking treatment, contact your veterinarian of choice to ask whether he or she accepts the insurance plan you’re considering. If not, consider switching to a veterinarian who will.
Take Cost into Consideration
There’s no denying that pet health insurance is an additional cost. Some plans cost more than others, and not always for the same reasons. Ultimately, you might prefer to save the cost of a premium, setting it aside for emergencies. Of course, however, what you’ve set aside might not be enough to pay for care if a pet becomes seriously injured and requires thousands of dollars’ worth of surgery. If the money you’ve set aside isn’t sufficient, you’ll be left holding the bag for the remainder.
In short, treat pet insurance as you would a human health insurance policy. Before signing on the dotted line, conduct a cost–benefit analysis, considering what coverage you need, what coverage the policy provides, and your veterinarian and the policy provider handle claims.