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Why Pet Owners Should Consider Buying Insurance

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While pet insurance may not have seemed like a wise investment in the past, many pet owners today are reconsidering its importance. In some cases, pet owners are better off setting up their own savings accounts for vet expenses. However, there are also many people who can benefit from buying this type of coverage.

Special Breeds And Medical Problems
Some breeds are more prone to developing certain medical conditions. These conditions are often permanent and require regular treatments, which are expensive. Most vet procedures are increasing in cost, so pet owners who foresee the possibility of multiple visits every year may want to consider buying pet insurance. Also, those who would be willing to spend anything to save a pet but are unsure about their finances may appreciate the peace of mind insurance provides. Many vet clinics ask for payment upfront, so some owners who cannot afford expensive treatments or surgeries are faced with the difficult decision of going into debt or having the animal put to sleep.

Today's pet owners often wonder why vet bills are so expensive. There are two main reasons why costs are climbing. First, veterinary science is advancing and bringing new treatments with it. Some of the breakthrough treatments are still difficult to provide, which means the cost will reflect this. Everything from cancer radiation therapy to organ transplants are now offered for pets. While they were once used only on humans, MRIs and imaging devices are also be used on animals now.

Second, the cost of keeping up and running a veterinary business is increasing due to taxes, laws and other economic issues. Vets also have to pay more for high-tech equipment and upkeep of that equipment. In addition to this, they have to pay for their own malpractice insurance. All of these costs are then passed on to pet owners.

Many Of America's Pets Lack Adequate Coverage
Research shows that Americans spent more than $45 billion on their pets in 2009. Of this amount, more than 25 percent was spent on veterinary care. That number shows a 10 percent increase from a similar study conducted in 2008. Studies also show that the number of insured pets in America is small. Of the 82 million cats and 72 million dogs reported as pets in 2007, only 850,000 animals were insured. Insurers and pet-friendly organizations have teamed up to help remedy this situation by offering pet coverage as a workplace benefit. Employers should consider adding this to their benefits package. However, consumers who do not have this workplace benefit and are considering buying pet coverage should consider the following tips:

- Shop around to compare the various providers before making a decision. Plan inclusions and pricing vary greatly from one company to another.

- For those who have multiple pets, it is important to find out if the company offers discounts for insuring more than one pet.

- Ask about copay amounts, deductibles and caps. Find out if maximums are annual or based on a lifetime.

- Make sure the company is registered with the state.

- Read the exclusions carefully.

In some cases, pet owners may decide that insurance is not the right investment for them. There are several other ways to lower vet bills, which include the following:

- Take advantage of low-cost vaccination clinics at pet stores, animal shelters or veterinary offices.

- Ask vets for samples whenever medications are prescribed.

- Make sure pets maintain a healthy weight.

- Seek a second opinion before starting costly treatments.

- Avoid using cheap pet food that can cause medical problems.

- Look online for lower medication prices.

- Do not keep pets outdoors all day and all night.

- Keep pets on leashes while walking them to avoid accidents.

- For those who have yet to buy a pet, it is important to research breeds before deciding which type of cat or dog to purchase. Whenever possible, it is always better to adopt an animal from a shelter instead of buying from a pet store or breeder.

Click here to return to Amity Insurance E-Newsletter Sept 6, 2013.