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Pet Health Insurance for Cats: What to Look For
Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith
veterinary exams & procedures
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Click here for a pdf version of this article.  See related products at Pet Supplies

Veterinary medicine is one of the few medical professions that is not financially based on insurance. The owners of the pets are responsible for veterinary costs including preventive care, emergency care, and on-going treatment.

Although many people have not been aware of it, pet health care insurance has been available for 15-20 years. It is now available in all 50 states and in several countries outside the U.S. Coverage for cats, dogs, and birds is available through several different companies. If you are considering the purchase of pet health insurance, research several companies to determine what is covered, what is excluded, and the cost of the policies available. Pet health insurance policies are similar to human insurance policies; annual premiums and deductibles may vary depending upon the health of the insured, and different coverage plans are often available.

Types of items to look for in insurance policies that include the following:

  • What ages of pets are accepted for coverage? Some policies have a limit on the age at the time coverage begins or drops coverage when the pet reaches a certain age. The ages vary depending upon species, breed, and life expectancy. If the coverage is not cancelled, the premium may rise.

  • Which breeds are accepted?

  • Who decides what is excluded and why is it excluded?

  • What is covered and what is the amount of coverage in each policy? Some policies cover certain medical procedures only to a certain price level, while other policies cover a certain percentage of the price.

  • Does the policy cover routine exams, vaccinations, heartworm preventives, and dental cleaning? Some companies include this in the regular policy while others have this coverage available at additional costs. Add up your typical veterinary clinic charges for yearly routine care and compare that with what the policy covers and the cost of that coverage.

  • Does the policy have deductibles and co-payments? Some do; others pay only a flat fee per ailment irregardless of the actual cost.

  • Are preexisting conditions covered? Preexisting conditions such as diabetes or breed-based genetic ailments are often excluded. Preexisting conditions are typically those which have an on-going treatment or have been treated within the past 6 months. Read the policy carefully.

  • Is there a maximum payout? Some policies may have a maximum payout per ailment, per year, or per pet.

  • For what reasons can the insurance company cancel the policy? Late payment? Change in the health or age of the pet?

  • Are you insured against damage to property if your pet causes injury to another animal or causes an accident? Homeowner's or renter's insurance may already cover this. Be careful though, as some insurance companies (homeowner's or renter's) will cancel the insurance if the pet bites and you keep the pet.

Pet health insurance brings peace of mind for some owners while others would rather set money aside on their own, in case it is needed. Determining the need for pet health insurance is a personal choice. For more information on specific plans, please contact the individual insurance companies.

Click here for a pdf version of this article.  See related products at Pet Supplies  
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