Back "in the day" a trip to the vet with your pet was a catch-as-catch-can visit that ended in modest bills for shots or a 'hands on' diagnosis. While X-rays were available as well as some basic blood tests, veterinary medicine had not evolved to the level it has reached today.
Now with the advent of MRIs, transplants and replacements, your bill could easily total thousands of dollars. Pet insurance will cost between $2000-$6000 during your pet's lifetime. While some may feel it would be better to have the money in your pet's own bank account, there are others who would go to any extreme to save the life of their pets.
Nearly one third of the $46 billion that Americans will spend on their pets this year will be in veterinary expenses. According to the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues, "only 850,000 pet insurance policies were in effect in 2007," as opposed to the 150 million pets residing in the United States. Although that is an increase over previous years, it still causes many people to make painful financial decisions if their pets become seriously ill.
With the adoption of veterinary treatments that were once reserved for humans, the cost of care has grown considerably. Pets can now receive radiation therapy and costly diagnostic tests that would have been overlooked in the past. Although the choice is yours as to whether you want your pet to have these treatments, it is difficult to ignore their availability if there is a chance that one of these costly procedures could save your pet's life.
Most pet insurance companies have deductibles, caps and co-pays. These will limit how much is paid out annually. Any hereditary conditions, such as hip dysplasia, are not generally covered except by a few plans. Your fee will also be based on the age of your pet. Most companies will not take pets over 9 years old and the older your pet, the higher the premiums as well as the surcharges. Pre-existing conditions are generally not covered either.
As you can see, a trip to the vet can be as financially devastating as hospitalization costs are for you. For this reason there are more and more people opting to purchase this type of insurance. Do you need pet insurance? That is a question that only you can answer. Is your pet a member of your family? Would a painful or chronic illness be a burden to you both emotionally and financially? Do you want your pet to have the best care available at any cost? If you answer yes to any of these questions, the subscription to a pet care insurance policy may be well worth the investment.
It is advisable to check with your personal veterinarian before making a choice. Usually well-informed about the benefits different plans may offer, your vet may be able to guide you in the right direction. Choosing the right policy is as important as choosing the right vet.
Trupanion Medical Insurance for your Pet 5-Company Comparison
North American Pet Health Insurance Association, www.naphia.org,
Anna Wilde Matthews, "Polly Want an Insurance Policy?" The Wall Street Journal
A Veterinarian's Guide to Pet Health Insurance, National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues, How pet insurance affects the practice, the client and the patient by John Volk, Senior Consultant, Brakke Consulting, Inc. Christine Merle, DMV, MBA, CVPM, Brakke Veterinary Practice Management Group
Focusing on pet insurance: The myths and truths If the thought of pet insurance leaves you cross-eyed, you're not alone. But with a clear picture of how it works, you'll see 20/20 in no time. May 1, 2009 By Amanda Bertholf, Managing Editor, VETERINARY ECONOMICS