Regular visits to a healthcare provider are an important part of living a healthy lifestyle and the same can be said for your pet. If you own a dog or cat, you should take them to see a veterinarian to keep their shots updated and to help detect illnesses before they become life-threatening. However, vet bills can be expensive and many people neglect to take their pet to a vet because they cannot afford the cost.
Why Buy Pet Insurance?
Medical insurance policies are now available for pets, which can help reduce the costs of taking your pet to their veterinarian. These policies will pay most of the costs of medical bills, leaving you with the responsibility of a co-payment for your vet’s services. While vet bills for preventative services are often expensive enough, if your pet needs emergency services, those bills can be enormous.
If your dog or cat suddenly takes ill or is hit by a car, taking them to an emergency vet is going to be very expensive. Most emergency pet clinics operate after hours, so they can charge a premium for their services and, since most visits involve life or death situations, the type of procedures involved are usually costly as well. However, if you have an insurance policy for your furry friend, your out-of-pocket costs will be greatly reduced.
Medical Insurance Coverage
Most medical pet insurance policies cover both routine and emergency care for dogs and cats. Routine services like rabies shots or examinations are generally covered at an 80/20 split, meaning that the insurance policy covers 80% of the vet bill and you make a 20% co-payment. So, if the vet bill is $120 AUD, then you are responsible for paying $24 AUD.
For emergency vet visits, involving accidents or illnesses, most policies offer the same 80/20 split. As emergency vet visits can be very costly, this can help save pet owners a great deal of money if their pet ever needs emergency care. In addition to vet bills, most insurance policies will also cover laboratory fees, prescription medications and hospitalisation, including emergency boarding, if it is necessary.
The type of coverage that is offered is dependent on the type of policy you purchase. Some insurance companies offer pet policies that just cover accidents, while other policies offer more comprehensive coverage for routine medical services as well as accident coverage. For those animal lovers who may have more than one pet, often a single policy will cover multiple pets.
Dental Insurance for Pets
Along with medical insurance, some companies also offer dental insurance for dogs and cats. This coverage may be a part of the same policy as the medical coverage, but some insurance companies offer separate policies for dental coverage, while with other policies, dental coverage is an optional add-on.
Just as with humans, dental hygiene is important for dogs and cats because some pets have problems with their teeth that can lead to deadly illnesses. If you have a pet with bad breath, they may have a dental issue like gingivitis, which is a gum disease. This gum disease can cause animals to lose their teeth and, if their teeth become infected, the infection can spread through their bloodstream and have fatal consequences. In many cases, an insurance policy that covers dental issues covers mainly non-routine care, such as severe dental illnesses.
Additional Coverage Options
For people who travel with their pets, some pet policies offer travel and accommodation insurance too. If you are interested in this type of coverage and you cannot find a pet policy that offers it, check with your vehicle insurance company. Some car insurance companies offer pet travel insurance as an add-on to their policies.
Common Insurance Exclusions
All insurance policies have exclusions, which vary from company to company, but the most common exclusion is the waiting period that is required for using a policy for medical expenses. Many policies require you to wait for at least 30 days before using it to help cover vet bills, including emergency services. However, for some medical issues, such as ruptured cruciate knee ligaments, most policies require a waiting period of six months before coverage is available.
If the policy offers dental coverage, many of them require up to a two-year waiting period before dental illnesses are covered by the policy. If a pet has a bilateral condition, such as hip dysplasia, and there are already indications of the disease on one side, then the other side may not be covered. Another common exclusion many pet policies have for coverage of diseases that have associated vaccines.
If you don’t get your pet vaccinated for a certain disease, and then they get the disease, then the policy may not cover their medical bills. Some of the diseases that could fall into this category include distemper, feline leukaemia and even rabies. Since most policies cover routine care, vaccinations would be covered, so there really is no reason why your pet shouldn’t be vaccinated.
Finding insurance policies that cover pre-existing conditions, elderly animals, breeding expenses for pregnancies and births, and for some dog breeds may be hard to find. When shopping for a policy, carefully read all of the information to make sure you understand all of their exclusions.
Is Insurance Universally Accepted?
The only foreseeable problem with purchasing insurance policies for your furry friend is finding veterinarians who will accept those policies for coverage of routine or emergency medical care. When you’re shopping for insurance for your pets, many companies will show the vets that accept their insurance on their websites. Another way to find out if your vet accepts insurance is to contact them and ask if they accept pet policies and, if they do, from which companies. It might be wise to find out this information before purchasing a policy.
An insurance policy for your pet is recommended by the Australian Veterinary Association. For most people, their pets are a part of the family and having a pet policy can ensure your furry family member stays healthy and happy.
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