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By Liss Scott

Should you consider pet insurance for your pooch?

Many pet owners choose to control the costs of keeping their dogs healthy by purchasing pet insurance. This means they pay a monthly bill, so that if their pet becomes ill and needs surgery or medicine, they can get it without paying the entire bill themselves. But is it really worth the monthly cost? This is a point of contention among pet owners, with both sides citing valid arguments. When it comes down to it, the choice and reasons for it seems to vary from pet owner to pet owner, and thus needs to be a personal decision.

Why get pet insurance?

Pet insurance does not completely cover the cost of veterinary bills, but it does reduce the out-of-pocket financial damage significantly. Many pet owners argue that it is absurd to get insurance for a dog that is healthy, but to this, pet insurance advocates retort that you never know when your dog will become unhealthy or injured.

Things to consider

  • Health care for pets is going to cost money, even with insurance. Possibly a lot of money. However, having insurance may reduce a $600 bill to $200.

  • Pre-existing and chronic conditions may not be covered, and many insurance companies will loophole their way into deeming anything as pre-existing or chronic.

  • Are you willing to invest in your pet in case an emergency arises? There is, after all, a chance it may not.

Tips for shopping for coverage

  • Never be afraid to ask questions of an insurance company, and always be aware of vague or non-answers. These are red flags that may be the first sign the company will bail on you in your time of need.

  • Know if a physical is required for your pet to get coverage. Some companies require this and others do not.

  • Find out what percentage of the bill is paid after the deductible

  • Are there copays?

  • Are payments capped?

  • Are prescriptions covered in the plan?

  • Where can you go with your insurance? Can you travel with it?

What is covered and what is not?

Chronic, pre-existing, hereditary and recurring problems are examples of things an insurance company might not cover or that they will cover for a while and then stop. There have been reported cases of an insurance company covering a pet owner for a new, ongoing condition for a year and then ceasing to cover the expenses because of some fine print that was not brought up when the coverage first started. Be sure to read all the fine print and question things that are vague or that you do not fully understand.

Is pet insurance worth it in the end?

After understanding what pet insurance is, how it works and what it covers, pet owners must make the choice to purchase it or not. Finances need to be evaluated, conversations with significant others need to be had and companies need to be scrutinized and compared. It all boils down the the individual's needs and financial situation.

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