First the good news: The number of advanced treatments and therapies for sick pets has grown. The bad? So has the cost of care. More and more pet owners are buying insurance to help defray the expense of catastrophic illnesses like cancer. But is it worth the money?
The price of insurance varies. For a newly enrolled 12-week-old, mixed-breed kitten, for example, VPI, a well-known insurance company, charges $162 per year for their “superior plan,” which includes up to $14,000 per year in coverage. The same coverage for an 8-year-old German shepherd would be $471 annually. The fine print: This does not include coverage for routine care (vaccinations, deworming, etc.) unless you pay an additional yearly fee of $99 and $50 deductible. VPI only pays up to a certain amount for each type of procedure, and if you want to insure an older pet, pre-existing conditions are not covered.
On the other hand, American Veterinary Medical Association President Roger Mahr, DVM, points out that pet health insurance isn’t just for catastrophes. Though few policies cover routine care, they may pay for treatments for chronic illnesses, like skin allergies and diabetes, that can quickly add up to a big pile of bills.
The bottom line: If you think pet insurance may be for you, look closely at the insurer’s policy to find out exactly what they cover. Then take the benefit schedule to your veterinarian and see if the amount of coverage matches what you would actually be charged.
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