It seems like it's impossible to escape from health care issues these days—even when it comes to pets. Though you would love to believe that your beloved and loyal dog will always remain a picture of health and vitality, realities are never far behind. We're reminded of them in the vet's office, at the dog park, and wherever dogs gather to play.
Pet insurance: a wise move or a needless gamble?
Companies that promote health insurance plans for pets have been in business for many years and have underwritten millions of policies. Even the ASPCA works in coordination with one such insurance company. Obviously, many pet owners feel a need for this type of coverage. But is it right for you and your pet?
Health coverage is, essentially, a gamble: over the course of your pet's life, will he accumulate medical bills that outweigh the price of the premium you will be paying? It's an easy question to ask, but the calculations can get tricky because there are many variables and unforeseeable potentialities. For example, there is no way to accurately determine if your young energetic puppy will develop serious health issues that will require costly medical care. He may live a long and healthy life with just routine visits to the veterinarian.
Some things to consider before you sign on the dotted line
As with the health insurance plan you have for your family, you need to understand all the details of how your pet's potential insurance plan works. This could involve reading a lot of fine print—but there are some things you simply must know. For example:
- What specific medical conditions/health issues does the particular policy cover?
- Is the plan comprehensive: covering accidents, hospitalization, and prescription medications?
- How much of the medical/surgical cost is covered by the policy?
- What is the cost of this insurance?
- Does the insurance company offer a range of plans?
- Will the cost increase as your dog ages?
- Is the possibility of renewal guaranteed at the end of the policy?
- Will chronic illnesses that are covered on the initial policy still be covered upon renewal?
- Can you choose your own veterinarian, or must you use one endorsed by the insurance company?
- What does the insurance company/health plan consider a pre-existing condition?
- Is the insurance company fiscally sound? (You don’t want to find out that the company you’ve been counting on has gone out of business!)
- How long has the insurance company been in business?
- What do others have to say about the company and its coverage?
An emotional issue
If your pet should become ill or have an accident and require costly medical treatment, health coverage could be an emotional as well as financial relief. Because your beloved pet is covered, you are less likely to have a need to consider how the cost will affect your bank account.
However, just because your pet has coverage doesn’t always mean you will decide to choose extreme treatments. Before you say "Yes" to the veterinarian, you must also consider the impact the proposed treatment will have on your pet. Ultimately, the decision to have your pet undergo some medical treatments shouldn't be made simply because you can afford it thanks to an insurance policy. That's why there are no easy answers when it comes to pet insurance.