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Is pet insurance worth the price?

April 10, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
A growing number of companies are offering insurance for pets. The policies are similar to health-care coverage offered by many employers. Is insuring your pet worth the cost?Pet insurance plans cover all kinds of medical expenses, from surgeries, to ultra-sounds and X-rays. Not only are the policies offered by small firms, but major corporations are offering them as well. Workers, not the companies, are typically responsible for paying the premiums, however.

"Employees that sign up for pet insurance through their employers are eligible for a five-percent discount," said Dennis Drent, Veterinary Pet Insurance. "In addition, if there are multiple pets involved, there are multiple pet discounts available."

VPI, one of the largest pet insurers, says the number of corporate policies has tripled in the past five years.

Shaila Shah pays about $450 annually for her German shepherd's policy. In the past year, Shaila recouped those costs in a single visit to the veterinarian.

"She had some growths on her, and when we got them removed, the bill was $696, and we got $468 reimbursed for that," said Shah.

The American Animal Hospital Association says a policy can help offset unexpected medical treatment. If you want a policy, though, whether it's through your job or on your own, it's important to know exactly what you're paying for.

"When people are buying pet insurance, probably the biggest source of dissatisfaction is that they aren't really aware what they're purchasing," said Dr. Thomas Carpenter, American Animal Hospital Association.

So check if there are additional costs for preventative care coverage like checkups and vaccinations.

See if hereditary or pre-existing conditions are excluded and ask about reimbursement policies.

"The method of repayment is important to understand, whether that be direct reimbursement based on the procedure alone, the percentage of the cost, or whether there's a co-pay involved," said Dr. Carpenter.

Also ask if you can go to any veterinarian or if you must stay within a network.

 

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