Pet Insurance

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The checkbook should never stand in the way of obtaining the best possible care for a beloved pet, but only 1 percent of America’s 100 million eligible pets are insured,” says Rob Jackson, co-founder of Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, in Bellevue, Washington.

Health insurance is widely available for pets in case of accident or illness. Experts note that informal diagnosis can be difficult when the patient can’t say how much pain they feel or where it is located. While veterinarians perform tests to identify a problem, associated costs can extend beyond a family’s budget.

Iva Burks, of Port Angeles, Washington, where she’s the county director of health and human services, recalls, “Years ago, we adopted Kelsi, a rescue Scottie who ate a toy and had to have surgery; we were relieved that insurance covered about half the cost. Three months later, she was diagnosed with lymphosarcoma and then had chemo over a two-year period; insurance paid about $10,000 toward our expenses.”

Bran, Burks’ current Scottie companion, was diagnosed with transitional cell carcinoma last year. “So far, he’s had two surgeries and chemotherapy and reached a cap on benefits at about $8,000,” she notes.Spotted Cat

Costs, benefits and approaches vary by company, policy, coverage, deductibles and clauses about preexisting conditions. Petplan (GoPetPlan.com) includes veterinary exam fees and any alternative/holistic therapies recommended and administered by a veterinarian. Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI at PetInsurance.com) insures dogs, cats, birds and exotics such as chinchillas, hedgehogs and potbellied pigs. Healthy Paws (HealthyPawsPetInsurance.com) provides unlimited benefits, with no incident, annual or lifetime caps. Most plans average $25 to $35 a month, with $100 to $1,000 deductibles; riders for extra coverage are available.

As in choosing any potential insurance, it’s wise to compare benefits and read the fine print to find the plan that’s the best fit to meet a family’s current and future needs.

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