New Year’s resolutions are solutions to make our lives easier, more organized, and more meaningful. We buy gym memberships, organic fruits and veggies, and foreign language books – we set aside money for traveling, for healthy snacks, even to pay off our credit card debt. We organize our finances to match the upcoming year’s expenses. And then Fluffy gets into the Valentine’s Day chocolates…. The emergency fees, IV fluids, hospitalization, and medications all start to add up. And suddenly that Jamaican vacation becomes a fantasy – oh well, you say, there’s always next year. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are two tips that will help you take care of your “furbaby” AND take that hunting trip next fall with your nephews.
From expensive hunting dogs, to quality cowdogs, to the family bedwarmer, an accident or emergency can cause much agony and grief. Pet insurance is one way to decrease the financial burden of veterinary care.
While it seems a bit yuppy to have insurance on your pets, this is one of the fastest growing markets in bringing peace of mind to pet owners. The top three pet insurance companies are Nationwide (previously VPI), Healthy Paws, and TruPanion. Each company is unique in what they can offer, but all do offer a variety of programs to fit a wide variety of pets and their owners’ budgets. You can select your monthly premium based on your combination of coverage plans, deductibles, and percent of reimbursement. Unlike human policies, pet owners have the freedom to pair their finances to the benefits they receive. Also, unlike human policies, there are no preferred providers so you can stay with your regular veterinarian. This is possible because you pay for your veterinary services upfront and submit your receipts (claims) for reimbursement. The insurance company then mails you a check for the amount based on your reimbursement plan.
The four basic types of coverage are (1) Emergency (hit by a car), (2) Emergency and Illness (parvo virus), (3) Emergency, Illness, and Routine, and (4) Full Coverage. Depending on the plan, pet owners can be partially or fully reimbursed for emergency care, routine vaccinations, spaying or neutering, or dental work – just to name a few services. Most of pet insurance companies are available for consultation or preapproval 24/7 so you will always know exactly what you will be reimbursed for. However, the downside to these plans is that pre-existing conditions are not covered – pet owners cannot be reimbursed for old injuries or diseases that are already being managed by a veterinarian. This means the best time to insure your pet is now. Puppies and kittens as young as eight weeks can be insured. This allows for the surgery or medical management for animals predisposed to diabetes, hip dysplasia, kidney and liver disease, and many other diseases that can severely compromise the quality of life. Pet insurance helps owners to afford expensive, but essential veterinary care without accepting financial hardship.
Setting up a savings account for your pet is an alternative to pet insurance. However, this requires a bit more discipline as you must regularly set aside money into that account and keep it there. That way, when your pets need it, it will be just an ATM machine away.
Accidents and emergencies are distressing emotionally, physically, and financially. Pet insurance or an emergency account, are two ways to help relieve the monetary liability. The bottom line is that veterinary expenses are a major factor of pet ownership, and being prepared for the unexpected can make the difference in the quality of life of our beloved animals.