Weighing the Benefits of Pet Insurance

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A co-worker of mine is famous for sharing the amusing exploits of her rambunctious cat, Teddy. However, I am saddened to learn that a kidney condition recently landed Teddy in the hospital.

Fortunately, Teddy’s veterinarian diagnosed the problem and developed a recovery strategy rather quickly. Of course, veterinary care can often come with a hefty price tag. Of course, for most of us, it’s a small price to pay for the health and happiness of our best animal friends, but what happens when we simply don’t have the funds for those urgent pet emergencies?

While there are options such as credit-based payment plans at most vet clinics, more and more of today’s pet guardians are turning to pet insurance to provide peace of mind.

The success of a plethora of insurance providers has helped lead to mainstream acceptance of pet insurance as a viable option for pet pals (simply search “pet insurance” on the internet and you’ll find dozens of companies and plans); yet, according to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), only three percent of U.S. pet parents have insurance for their furry friends.

Now, don’t get me wrong: although I’ve had a policy for my dog Dodger for a couple of years now, it’s not going to fix all your problems. The comfort of knowing that big-ticket bills won’t blow our budget is the main reason that we decided to invest in pet insurance, but even the plans with the most in-depth coverage are not as comprehensive as I would like. Like with most things, it’s important to read the fine print before buying any policy.

For example, some policies will not cover pre-existing conditions or reproduction related costs, while others refuse to cover conditions such as hip dysplasia and other ailments commonly found in particular breeds.

The many policy limitations cause many pet lovers to stay away from pet insurance, but it’s truly one of those decisions that should be made individually for each animal. The first thing I considered was how much I would be able to spend out-of-pocket if Dodger were to become ill or injured. I then had to take into consideration the general health of his breed and the amount of preventative care I could provide. Once I was convinced that insurance was right for Dodger, I went to work on finding the right company and the right policy.

The number of provider options is exploding, but not every plan is created equal. This is one decision you’ll want to make only after doing the proper homework and comparisons.

Looking for help getting started? Check out the listings and reviews at petinsurancereview.com.

Here’s to keeping your pet (and your wallet) healthy!

D. Graham Curry lives in Nashville with his wife Lovette, their son Alexander, and their rescued pit bull mix, Dodger. It’s a Doggone World is an opinion column on four-legged culture, appearing in each issue of Nashville Paw.

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