Chances are, you haven’t considered pet insurance. As difficult as it is to imagine your dog or cat as being anything but happy and healthy, it may be worth exploring. Whether you’re adjusting to life with your new pet or accommodating new needs from an aging one, here’s what you should know…

The Nitty-gritty

Pet insurance varies greatly in cost and coverage, so choosing a plan will depend largely on what makes most sense for you and your pet. Even so, you can expect a few baseline similarities across the board:

  1. All pet insurance currently uses a reimbursement model, so vet bills and office visits are paid out of pocket, with a claim filed by you to your insurance company after the fact. Reimbursement rates often vary from plan to plan.
  1. Coverage will depend on what is most important to you, and in many cases, you should be able to find a plan that caters to your needs. Worried about chronic illness? Look for a plan that includes lifelong illness or disease. Only concerned about accidents? Seek out emergency coverage.
  1. All plans offer an annual or per-incident deductible. Annual deductibles are paid every twelve months regardless of how many trips you take to the vet, and per-incident deductibles are paid after each visit. Of course, it’s hard to predict how frequently your pet will require veterinary care, but consider this rule of thumb: if you’d prefer a lower deductible, thus opting for a smaller out-of-pocket expense, expect a higher premium. This works both ways: if you’d like a lower premium, your deductible will increase.

Pros and Cons

The biggest push for pet insurance, predictably so, is peace of mind. While your furry friend may go through his or her life with a clean bill of health, it’s impossible to predict when your puppy will sprain a leg, or when your cat will ingest too much string. Having your pet covered is a surefire way to keep unexpected and costly vet bills covered, and help you sleep at night.

On the contrary, many plans don’t cover preexisting conditions or preventative care, so unfortunately, it can be a gamble. There’s no way to know whether you’ll need the coverage, and if your pet lives a healthy, injury-free life, you may end up spending more money in the long haul.

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Regardless of your decision, take the time to carefully read the fine print, and chat with your veterinarian. If your pet spends a great amount of time playing and staying active, or if you’ve adopted an older animal, pet insurance may be a wise and worthy investment. Whatever you decide, rest assured that your pet off to a great start with your care.

(Images via: top, bottom.)