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Is Pet Insurance Right for You?

Pets, like people, get sick or injured. People have health insurance, but most pets don’t. There are a lot of considerations when deciding whether to purchase pet insurance, and just as many when you choose the policy.

A Very Short History of Pet Insurance

The first animal insurance policy was issued in 1890 by a man named Claes Virgin. His insurance company wrote policies for livestock and horses. The Swedes realized that health insurance was necessary for dogs, so in 1924, the first dog in the world was covered. Britain followed suit twenty-three years later and started issuing pet insurance. Fast forward thirty-five years. Veterinary Pet Insurance wrote the first pet insurance policy in the United States in 1982. And guess who the policy covered? Our beloved dog Lassie. Canada started covering pets in 1989, and the pet insurance industry really started to grow. The North American Pet Health Insurance Association was formed in 2007, with the mission of creating standards for best practices in the pet insurance industry. Almost all pet insurance companies in the US and Canada are members. 

About Pet Insurance 

According to Statista.com, pet insurance premiums in the US hit $1.6 billion in 2019. That may sound like a lot of money, but less than 1% of pet parents buy health coverage for their dogs and cats. To put it another way, the Insurance Information Institute reported that at the end of 2019, 2.82 million pets were insured, but there were 106.1 million households that owned at least one pet. Just as with any type of insurance policy, the cost is based on various factors. For pet insurance, it depends on what type of animal it is, the breed, whether it’s purebred, the age, where you live, and the type of coverage you choose. Insurance is more expensive for dogs than cats because the treatment tends to cost more. If you are buying pet insurance, be sure to compare the deductible, co-pays, the cap (the maximum amount the insurer will pay either for the life of the animal, over a certain period of time, or for each occurrence), what is covered, and what is excluded from coverage (such as pre-existing conditions, experimental or investigative treatment). No two policies are alike, so it’s best to know what you are buying. At renewal, it’s important to look over the insurance documents carefully. The premiums will go up as your pet ages, and if your pet had a claim over the previous year, you may find that the illness or injury is excluded in the future. Vet bills can add up if there is a serious illness or injury. Some pet parents are faced with the difficult decision of how they are going to pay and may sadly end up having to put their pet to sleep because they can’t afford the treatment. It is cheaper to purchase insurance when your pet is a puppy or kitten, and coverage will continue as they age unless you cancel the policy. It seems that the older your pet gets, the need for care increases, but remember that the young ones get hurt often because they’re more active and more curious. Buying a policy for the first time for an older pet will likely be cost prohibitive, if you can find a company that is willing to insure an older pet. 

An Alternative to Consider 

Some people believe that it is better to open a pet savings account. If you put money in every month, it will earn interest, and you only use it when you need to. The downside is that if you aren’t disciplined, you may use the money for other items, instead of on your pet. If you have questions about pet health insurance, give Dr. Newman a call at 208-233-2844.Pets, like people, get sick or injured. People have health insurance, but most pets don’t. There are a lot of considerations when deciding whether to purchase pet insurance, and just as many when you choose the policy. A Very Short History of Pet Insurance The first animal insurance policy was issued in 1890 by a man named Claes Virgin. His insurance company wrote policies for livestock and horses. The Swedes realized that health insurance was necessary for dogs, so in 1924, the first dog in the world was covered. Britain followed suit twenty-three years later and started issuing pet insurance. Fast forward thirty-five years. Veterinary Pet Insurance wrote the first pet insurance policy in the United States in 1982. And guess who the policy covered? Our beloved dog Lassie. Canada started covering pets in 1989, and the pet insurance industry really started to grow. The North American Pet Health Insurance Association was formed in 2007, with the mission of creating standards for best practices in the pet insurance industry. Almost all pet insurance companies in the US and Canada are members. About Pet Insurance According to Statista.com, pet insurance premiums in the US hit $1.6 billion in 2019. That may sound like a lot of money, but less than 1% of pet parents buy health coverage for their dogs and cats. To put it another way, the Insurance Information Institute reported that at the end of 2019, 2.82 million pets were insured, but there were 106.1 million households that owned at least one pet. Just as with any type of insurance policy, the cost is based on various factors. For pet insurance, it depends on what type of animal it is, the breed, whether it’s purebred, the age, where you live, and the type of coverage you choose. Insurance is more expensive for dogs than cats because the treatment tends to cost more. If you are buying pet insurance, be sure to compare the deductible, co-pays, the cap (the maximum amount the insurer will pay either for the life of the animal, over a certain period of time, or for each occurrence), what is covered, and what is excluded from coverage (such as pre-existing conditions, experimental or investigative treatment). No two policies are alike, so it’s best to know what you are buying. At renewal, it’s important to look over the insurance documents carefully. The premiums will go up as your pet ages, and if your pet had a claim over the previous year, you may find that the illness or injury is excluded in the future. Vet bills can add up if there is a serious illness or injury. Some pet parents are faced with the difficult decision of how they are going to pay and may sadly end up having to put their pet to sleep because they can’t afford the treatment. It is cheaper to purchase insurance when your pet is a puppy or kitten, and coverage will continue as they age unless you cancel the policy. It seems that the older your pet gets, the need for care increases, but remember that the young ones get hurt often because they’re more active and more curious. Buying a policy for the first time for an older pet will likely be cost prohibitive, if you can find a company that is willing to insure an older pet. An Alternative to Consider Some people believe that it is better to open a pet savings account. If you put money in every month, it will earn interest, and you only use it when you need to. The downside is that if you aren’t disciplined, you may use the money for other items, instead of on your pet. If you have questions about pet health insurance, give Dr. Newman a call at 208-233-2844.