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We love our pets and treat them like family, so why wouldn’t we consider providing them with health insurance, as we would do for our human family members? Pet insurance can help lower the cost of veterinary bills, thereby making pet care more affordable. And, just like insurance for humans, insurance for pets comes with benefit limits, cover types, and deductibles.

Pet insurance typically works like this: Your pet has a veterinarian visit, you pay the veterinarian, you file a claim with your pet insurance company, and that company reimburses you for the amount minus the deductible, copay, and other expenses that aren’t covered. Also, pet insurance is health insurance, despite what its category placement in “property and casualty insurance” would imply.

Source: Dr. Cliff/YouTube

So, is pet insurance worth it? Well, most coverage should be able to reimburse you for to up 90 percent of your veterinary bills. Finding insurance for exotic pets can be difficult, as most pet insurance primarily covers cats and dogs only. Your options will be limited if you have pets that are classified as “exotic animals,” which could include amphibians, birds, goats and pigs, reptiles, rabbits, and small animals like guinea pigs and mice. Note that pet insurance will not cover any animals that are illegal, dangerous, and/or expensive to own, such as big cats and primates. Large farm animals like cows would also not be covered.

The best pet insurance options, according to the 2022 Buyers’ Guide, are Progressive Pet Insurance, Pumpkin, Spot, Wagmo, and ASPCA Pet Health Insurance. As with most options, these only cover cats and dogs, yet they all reimburse 90-100 percent of veterinary bills. The coverages typically include accident, illness, and routine and preventative care. Fortunately, all 5 should be accepted by any licensed veterinarian in the United States and Canada, and sometimes even for virtual visits. Most, too, offer a minimum 5 percent discount for multiple pets on the same account.

How much does pet insurance cost? The premium varies depending on the pet’s breed, age, and zip code and is usually higher for senior pets who are more prone to chronic illnesses. The breed is important, as some tend to have more health issues than others, and the zip code is also necessary, as veterinary costs can vary from location to location. You can tailor the pet insurance to your budget while also taking into consideration your pet’s specific needs. In general, insurance for dogs is 74 percent higher than it is for cats, at (on average) $50/month for dogs and $28/month for cats.

As you’d do with your own health insurance, be sure to do as much research as possible to find the appropriate insurance for your pet(s). Coverages can be widespread, though exclusions often apply, even for ones that cover pre-existing conditions. On that note, it’s a rarity for plans to cover these types of conditions, and they might cover curable ones but not incurable ones.

Regardless, if your pet has a medical issue not covered by insurance, you should still consider getting some type of insurance, but be sure to ask the provider to review your pet’s medical record before signing up for a plan. While health insurance has long been a standard benefit provided by employers, pet insurance is becoming increasingly prevalent as well.

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