Estimates say that dog owners in North America now spend over 10 billion dollars a year on health care for their pets. Unfortunately, the importance of health insurance is only realized by most people once they've been handed a hefty bill for the treatment of their beloved pooch.
A sad reality is that, by this time, when you need it the most, the possibility of insurance is often ruled out, as your pet is not likely to qualify for any. So, it is essential to get insurance for your dog while it is still young. When your dog falls ill, cost should not be one of the factors to consider while deciding what course of treatment to follow.
There are numerous insurance policy options available for your dog. Before deciding on a plan, you need to assess what your dog's future requirements are likely to be. Your dog's needs will depend on his age and health. Puppies may need spaying, vaccinations, boosters, treatment for foreign body ingestion or poisoning.
An adult dog's treatments may vary from routine dental, ear/bladder infections to injuries. For a mature dog, arthritis, kidney disease, heart disease or cancer are illnesses more likely to arise.
Here are few different services your policy could include:
- Accident coverage which may include veterinary diagnostics and treatment.
- Illness coverage that may include veterinary diagnostics and treatment.
- Dental coverage may be used towards cost of annual cleaning or problem teeth and gums.
- Special coverage could include alternative treatments, behavioral therapy and medical devices.
- Preventive Care Examinations usually includes heartworm testing and prevention, Flea prevention, Vaccinations, Spay or Neuter and Microchip insertion.
Certain companies offer complimentary benefits once you buy a claim. These could be any or all the following:
- Boarding kennel fees for when you are hospitalized and unable to care for your pet.
- Holiday cancellation coverage if your pet requires emergency, life-saving treatment.
- Cremation or burial fees, which will allow you to personalize your arrangements.
- Advertising cost and reward money if your pet is stolen or goes missing.
- An in Memoriam donation, which is made to your local animal community, in your pet's name in the event of their passing.
Policies in the US don't pay the complete claim amount, but offer you about 80% of it, after the deductions. The procedure usually followed is that the owner pays the vet, and then sends the claim to the company, which consequently reimburses it. The cost of your policy as well as services offered is influenced by your zip code.
While procuring a health insurance policy for your dog, there are a few details you should be aware of.
- If you choose a higher deductible, your monthly premium will be lower, but that will mean that your out-of-pocket will be higher each time your pet begins a new medical treatment. Find out if there is a penalty for changing plans and deductibles.
- Find out how the reimbursement is calculated. It could be a percentage of your veterinarian's bill or a percentage of a benefit schedule.
- Find out if your policy will allow you to visit any vet or if you will be restricted to a network. Also find out if your policy will cover emergency care at 2 a.m. Everyone knows how accidents and illnesses have a tendency to take place at unearthly hours.
- As a rule, health insurance policies don't usually cover pre-existing conditions (conditions existing before the original policy effective date), whether they were diagnosed or treated earlier or not. Ensure that the policy you choose clearly states what is and is not covered.
- It is also important that if your pet develops a chronic disease, such as diabetes or cancer, your plan will continue to help treat the problem from one policy term to the next.
While selecting a policy, find out from several people the experiences they've had with the insurance company. If none of the people you know are able to help, check with the staff at your vet's clinic. The illness of a pet may take its toll on your emotional well-being. With a good health insurance, you can prevent it from becoming a financial burden too.