Have you received a vet bill lately? Ouch!
Pet insurance provides reimbursement for treatment in the event of an accident or illness. And with increasing costs for advanced treatment and care, vet bills will only get higher. Pet insurance could be the difference between having many years with your dog or cat and having to say good-bye because you can’t afford a sky-high vet bill. Yet according to Consumer Reports, only 3 percent of dogs and 1 percent of cats are insured.
Premiums for pet insurance are based on the animal’s type, breed, and age, where you live, and what benefits the insurance offers. When structuring a pet insurance plan, you should think about the following:
- What are the choices for an annual deductible?
- What is the maximum incident benefit allowable under the plan?
- What is the maximum annual benefit?
- How much is reimbursed per incident?
- What is the usual, customary & reasonable (UCR) reimbursement amount?
- Is there a policy on preexisting conditions?
A “usual, customary & reasonable covered charge” is what the insurance company deems a fair price for a service. It’s very similar to your health insurance, where industry data is captured to determine costs for the area where services are rendered.
Preexisting conditions are typically not covered, but check with your carrier to find out if it provides an exception if you can prove your pet has been cured or treatment-free for an extended period of time. Coverage may be offered if specific terms can be met.
You also want to look at the various types of treatments that can be reimbursed, including:
- Annual physical exam
- Heartworm prevention
- Annual dental cleaning
- Treatment for an ongoing condition
In addition to purchasing a pet insurance plan to cover illness and accident, check with your auto insurance carrier to see if it includes pet insurance as part of its collision coverage. Progressive is one carrier that offers up to $1,000 either toward a vet bill or as a death benefit.
Your homeowner’s insurance policy will protect against liability for injuries to another person from a dog bite, but it probably does not cover injuries to another animal. To avoid out-of-pocket expenses for vet bills as a result of an incident, ensure that your pet is disciplined to socialize with other animals.
I’ve lost many pets in my lifetime, and it’s never easy. Pets are part of the family, and health issues happen and must be addressed. Pet insurance could be the answer that will help save your pet and your wallet.
Linda Rey is a licensed insurance agent at Rey Insurance with a broad spectrum of expertise in life, accident, health, property and casualty insurance as well as retirement planning and college funding strategies.