Is pet insurance worth the cost? Porky and Buddy answer the question

Dear Porky and Buddy,

I am about to adopt my very first pet, a yellow lab named Shirley, and I am so excited, but a friend asked me if I was going to get pet insurance for her and I acted like I knew what she was talking about, but really I had no idea.

Is pet insurance a good idea? And if so, how do you go about choosing a plan?  Do you have any suggestions?

Barb

Dear Barb,

First of all, thank you for adopting Shirley — we suspect she is excited too!

We can’t make specific recommendations about pet insurance because there are so many plans with so many different considerations that it would be impossible.

Start out though by talking to your vet to ask if there are any plans they would or would not recommend. Although vets generally don’t deal with the insurance companies directly — you pay upfront and then get reimbursed — they probably hear from their clients about their experiences.

Should you get the insurance?  We think it is often a good idea, as veterinary costs continue to rise, primarily because there is so much more that veterinarians can do now to protect the  health of our pets.

If you have a good plan, that is one less thing to have to  worry about. But you need to do your research.

Here are some basic considerations:

** The insurance provider should clearly spell out to you the details of coverage for routine and/or wellness care as well as emergency treatments and conditions that require extensive care.

Find out whether and how your premiums will be increased as your pet ages or if you make any claims.

** Find out how the plan defines and handles pre-existing conditions (diseases or conditions your pet already has – or has had) prior to purchasing the plan.

In some cases, insurance providers will not insure a specific pet or breed of pet, or may limit the number of pets you can insure, if they consider them “high risk.”  You need to know about those limitations, especially based on what you know about Shirley’s health history.

** All of the charges, including co-pays, deductibles, add-on charges and other fees, should be clearly explained to you so you fully understand the policy and its limitations.

** Ask the insurance provider how claims are processed as well as the time frame for reimbursement of your expenses so you know what to expect.

If you feel that you are not getting clear answers to your questions try another plan. There are too many of them out there — you can find them with a simple Google search–to settle for one that does not answer questions clearly.

We hope that you have many happy healthy years with Shirley, but if she does need veterinary care, we also hope that you are able to find a good solution for providing it.

The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County. Our office is at 265 W. First St., Oswego. Phone is 207-1070. Email: ochscontact@hotmail.com Website: www.oswegohumane.org

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