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In the past few years veterinary medicine has made leaps and
bounds in the types of procedures that are available for animals.
Pet medical histories are beginning to resemble that of their
owners. Cancer treatments, pacemakers and other surgical procedures
are becoming more accessible and common for our furry friends.
With the rising costs and variety of pet procedures being
offered, pet insurance policies are becoming more logical than
ever, and opting for these policies can be beneficial.
"Pet insurance policies, like all insurance, allow you to plan
for the event of a major medical condition," states Dr. Dan Posey,
a clinical associate professor at the Texas A&M College of
Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. "There is no doubt
that veterinarians and pet owners have had to make tough health
care decisions sometime in their pet's life and with pet insurance
it makes these decisions easier."
Before opting for health insurance for your pet it is critical
that you research what each company's plans cover and what is the
best policy for you.
Start with the basics. Talk with your veterinarian and research
which policy suits your needs best. There are numerous pet health
insurance companies to choose from and the internet is a great
place to start your research.
Most pet insurance companies offer a variety of plans. Some
common options are solely accident coverage, accident and illness,
and plans that incorporate routine wellness exams.
"There are differences between each company's policies and one
should thoroughly understand what the insurance will and will not
cover," states Posey.
Pet insurance is similar to our own health insurance in the fact
that most companies usually will not cover pre-existing conditions.
Hereditary conditions are also commonly excluded from pet health
insurance. If the breed of your animals is susceptible to
developing certain conditions, chances are those health problems
will not be covered.
"A person should look for a pet insurance that does not have
'per incident' limits," recommends Dr. M.A. Crist, a veterinarian
at Texas A&M University.
Dr. Crist explains that often a person does not really
understand what "per incident" actually covers.
"If your animal has an accident and requires extensive surgery,
a person with pet health insurance usually opts for the surgery,
thinking it will be covered by their policy," notes Crist. "Only
later they find out that their insurance may not cover all of the
expenses of the procedure or will only pay up to a certain amount
for that surgery, leaving the policy holder to pay the remaining
Crist also explains that if a complication arises from the
surgery or the animal has follow up appointments or procedures
stemming from that surgery the "per incident" policy will usually
not cover those.
"I would choose an insurance company that has a single level
coverage which usually covers only accident and illness," states
Crist. "This means no routine health care, no "per incident"
limits, does not have a deductible and the premiums do not increase
as the pet ages. Also, find a company that pays the claims within
24 hours of receiving the paperwork."
It is important to completely understand your policy, know the
procedures it will cover, and what percentage your insurance
company will pay for each.
"There is no doubt that veterinary medicine is advancing on a
daily basis," states Posey. "The diagnostic, medical, and surgical
procedures that were once only available in regional referral
centers are now becoming more available in private practices. With
increased access to such procedures, pet insurance can help make
medical care more affordable."
Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine
& Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University.
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