Should You Buy Pet Insurance? - Dog Training Tips

Do you get sticker shock when you go to the Doctor? Not only do you pay for the visit, but if you have to have blood work or any additional tests, it costs extra. The same can happen to you if you visit the vet. For instance, does your dog need to have a broken hip repaired? The price tag could be $18,000.

Many of us dog owners will spare no expense when it comes to our beloved companions despite the lagging economy and high unemployment. According to the Associated Press, Americans spent more than $53 billion on pets in 2012 - a new high. In fact, much of the same costly technology and diagnostic tests available for humans are now being used on dogs. For instance, veterinarians can now use MRI technology and chemotherapy to treat their pet patients.

So this begs the question: should you get pet insurance?

What is pet insurance?

Here's some facts about pet insurance:

  • All policies have varying deductibles and co-pays.
  • The higher the deductible, the lower the premium.
  • Premiums are based on an animal's age, breed and where you live.
  • Some companies cover routine wellness care, such as vaccinations and checkups, whereas others insure solely for illnesses and emergencies.
  • Costs can range anywhere from $35/month to $115/month depending on the exclusions, riders and deductibles.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of pet insurance?

Advantages

  • It helps you prepare for the financially unexpected.
  • It helps you pay for catastrophic or emergency expenses.
  • Many policies offer multi-pet discounts.
  • Pet insurance is available for both dogs and cats.

Disadvantages

  • Policies do not cover pre-existing illnesses.
  • Policies do not cover periodontal disease.
  • Some insurance providers will not cover breeds considered "high risk" such as Chinese shar-peis or Newfoundlands.
  • Some policies have hidden exclusions.

Interested in finding out more? Here are some companies offering pet insurance:

My advice as a BarkBusters dog trainer? Buyer beware. If you're going to invest in pet insurance, read the fine print and know exactly what it covers and what it doesn't. Educate yourself about the pros and cons by reading this article by Consumer Reports. Then make an informed decision based on your income, your budget and how much you have or could have in an emergency kitty should an unforeseen accident or illness occur.

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