The North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA) is once again sponsoring National Pet Health Insurance Month this September. According to NAPHIA over 2 million pets are covered by pet insurance in the United States and Canada and that continues to grow each year.
This month is dedicated to raising awareness about pet insurance and the value and peace of mind it brings pet owners. It works just like human health insurance, you pay a monthly premium that factors in the age and health of your pet. When your pet visits the vet, you submit an insurance claim and are reimbursed for a portion of that vet visit.
Most plans cover accidents, illnesses and wellness checks, some even offers riders to cover specific illnesses.
Different plans have different premium schedules, deductibles and co-payment plans, but many owners see real value in having that financial safety net for their pets in case of a serious injury or illness or increasing medical costs as their pets age.
Most pet owners are well aware of the costs of pet health care. Dr. Louise Murray, vice-president of the ASPCA, in New York City stated pet owners will likely incur at least one $2,000 - $4,000 bill for emergency care at some point during their pet’s lifetime. That’s quite a hit if you are unprepared. If your dog or cat is particularly active and prone to injuries or is a breed that has genetic health issues, those costs can skyrocket.
It’s smart to set aside a fund to pay for those unexpected costs, but many folks find it hard to save money for themselves or their children let alone their pets. Pet Health Insurance is the best way to ensure that you can make your pet’s health care decisions based on what’s best for them, not on what you can afford.
There are many different pet health insurance companies available to pick from. You should examine their plans and payment schedules before making a decision. Here's a good review conducted by the website ValuePenguin, a company that analyzes consumer financial products.
A useful buying guide from NAPHIA can be found here. Their guide not only explains how pet insurance works, but provides the following tips on what to look for when considering a plan:
- Pet species: dogs and cats are most commonly covered, but some insurers cover rabbits, snakes and other pets.
- Pet breed: breeds with genetic markers for serious conditions may be charged a premium.
- Cost of treatment for most common ailments or conditions.
- Excluded items such as pre-existing conditions, pregnancy, etc.
- Waiting period: how long before your pet is covered?
- Premium, co-pay, aging cost increases, etc.
Do your research before you buy. Ask your veterinarian, friends and neighbors for advice. Many plans offer special “friends & family” rates, so if you are a pet loving family, you might get a nice discount if the whole family signs-up.