Pet Factsheets

Health insurance for your dog (US)

In recent years huge advances have been made in veterinary medicine. Veterinarians can now do things to improve the health and welfare of dogs which would have been unimaginable or impractical only a few years ago. Not surprisingly, these advanced surgical and medical treatments are often expensive so that a veterinarian's bill for intricate surgery or a prolonged course of treatment may be several hundreds of dollars. Many pet owners worry that they will not be able to afford to pay for treatment if their dog becomes sick or has a major accident.

Is there an alternative?

The average household spends a significant amount of money pampering their pets, including routine veterinary care, toys, treats, clothes, furnishings,petsitting/kennel and day care.

While those expenditures are planned, expenses related to illnesses or injuries are not. A survey of 1,189 pet owners in the U.S. and Canada conducted by the American Animal Hospital Association showed that 74 percent would willingly incur financial indebtedness to provide for their pet's well being.

Another option is pet health insurance. For just pennies a day, you can protect your kitten or cat when an illness or injury occurs.

An affordable pet health insurance policy can provide peace of mind. When your pet is sick or injured, the last thing you want to worry about is the cost. You simply want your pet to come home healthy.

What costs are covered by insurance?

A pet health insurance policy should cover medical treatments and surgeries for accidents and illnesses ranging from minor problems such as ear infections and bee stings to major problems such as broken bones, diabetes and cancer. A wellness package (either as a rider or part of the policy) helps pay for routine care that is important to keeping your cat healthy (eg annual exam and vaccinations).

What costs are not covered by insurance?

Like most insurance policies, a pet insurance policy may have exclusions to keep premiums low. Some sample exclusions may include:

  • Elective procedures
  • Pet foods
  • Grooming
  • Behavioral problems
  • Congenital defects
  • Hereditary defects
  • Medical conditions present prior to the policy effective date.

What should I look for in an insurance policy?

Puppy and dog owners should ask these simple questions when considering pet health insurance:

  • What is the dog's age?The best time to purchase a policy is when your pet is young - ensuring that your four-legged family member gets off to a good start.
  • What is the likelihood of hereditary conditions?Policies might exclude hereditary conditions, based on the dog's breed.
  • Is your dog already sick?Most insurance polices exclude pre-existing conditions. However, if the condition resolves at a later date, the exclusion can be removed.
  • How much are you willing to pay for treatment?Some treatments cost thousands of dollars. An insurance policy helps with your out-of-pocket costs and enables you to select the best medical care for your puppy or dog.
  • How much money can you set aside for your pet's health care?Trying to save money every week is a good idea, but what happens if a pet is injured or becomes ill before the needed dollars are available?
  • Is the insurance company licensed in your state?Make sure you choose an insurance provider that is licensed and regulated by the Department of Insurance in your state.
  • Does your insurance company allow you to choose your veterinarian?For many pet owners, maintaining the relationship they have with their veterinarian is very important. Some insurance plans mandate that you visit one of a limited number of networked veterinary clinics. Be cautious of these policies if your goal is to maintain the same relationship you've always had with your veterinarian - the doctor who knows and understands you and your pet.

How much will insurance cost?

Premiums for the leading health insurance plan in the US start at less than $19 per month for dogs. Rates are based on the age of your dog and the plan you select (subject to state availability). Multiple pet discounts are available when you insure more than one pet per household.

What is the real value of pet health insurance?

When your pet is covered with health insurance, you have the financial assistance to choose the best medical care for your kitten or cat when she is ill or injured. Pet health insurance provides help for the cost and provides you with peace of mind, knowing you have taken the extra step to protect your pet.

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