By Jaime Shriver, DVM
Associate Veterinarian, Clinical Toxicology
Pet insurance is becoming much more common place these days and it is incredibly positive for the veterinary profession and the health of our pets. So much of the stress in making medical decisions for pet owners unfortunately comes down to a difficult decision – can we afford it? This is stressful for the veterinarian too as we want to be able to do the right thing for our patients but unfortunately have to weigh that with the costs of staying in business. We really can’t afford to give our services away for free, anymore than the mechanic down the street can.
I advocate pet insurance for most pet owners, but here are a few things to keep in mind:
1) Premiums are based on the patient’s age and many companies don’t raise the rate as the patient ages – buy when your pet is young.
2) The policies almost never cover any sort of pre-existing conditions. Again – buy early – before your pet has any chronic health history.
3) Keep in mind all policies these days require you to pay up front and submit your receipts for reimbursement. Keep a credit card or savings account handy to cover those costs or the insurance policy won’t be of use to you.
4) Most of what the policies cover are tragic events or severe illnesses, only certain policies cover preventative care. Shop around and read the fine print. Make sure you know exactly what your policies covers, so there are no surprises later.
If more pets were insured, I believe it would raise the standard of medicine and decrease stress for both veterinarians and pet owners. Researching your options will help you make the right decision for you and your pet. Educate yourself and ask your veterinarian if you have any additional questions!