Many people that have never owned any pets frown at the idea of getting pet insurance however; the animal-lovers among us know just how expensive a pet can be and just how important it is for us to be able to properly care for them throughout their lives.
Pet insurance can do a lot more that just cover the costs of expensive veterinarian bills – it can help you pay for the regular check-ups and maintenance that your pets deserve. There could be nothing worse than having to euthanize your family pet because they’ve developed a serious illness that you cannot afford to treat. From thyroid disease to a flea allergy – your pet’s veterinarian bills can easily run into thousands of dollars that you simply do not have lying around. In New Zealand we do not have any governmental association or service provider that can help us pay for our pet’s medical bills – so we’re responsible for 100% of these bills. Over 70% of New Zealand homes have a pet - dogs and cats beings the obvious favorites. Some insurers cover other pets including horses, rabbits, guinea pigs and birds however, these are usually far less common for obvious reasons – which is why most insurers focus on man’s best friend and our feline companions.
Pet insurance is absolutely a necessity
If you own dogs than having pet insurance is absolutely a necessity since last year an overwhelming 89% of dog owners had to take their pets to the vet for some form of treatment. Cats are just as costly with more than 70% of owners having had to take a trip to their local vet last year. Owning a dog will cost you almost double the amount that owning a cat will in general maintenance – which means that dogs are the most expensive pets that New Zealanders can own. A very common accident necessitating a trip to the vet is being hit by a motor vehicle – which is a surprisingly more common occurrence amongst cats who tend to wander away from the family home much easier than the our dogs who can’t jump fences and walk over roofs. This is the very same reason that dogs don’t get into nearly as many fights as their feline friends do – because they are usually confined to the family home or garden where they can’t run into trouble. One of the most common reasons that dogs take an emergency trip to the vet is from having ingested some foreign object which is very likely to require an x-ray followed by surgical removal of the foreign object. Along the same lines, obstruction of the throat by a foreign object; usually a bone in the case of both dogs and cats, is another one of the most common reasons a pet needs to be taken to the vet. Skin diseases, many of which are pre-existing, also tends to be one of the most common pet illnesses that require very expensive, ongoing treatments. Diagnostic examinations, x-rays and blood work can all be very expensive but absolutely critical to diagnosing an illness before it’s too late.
Many people are under the false impression that pets don’t develop chronic illnesses or rarely, if ever get injured but, these things are a lot more common than you’d think and taking out pet insurance can help you take care of your pet when they need it the most. Apart from ensuring they get any emergency treatment that they need – pet insurance can help you pay for the regular veterinary visits that your pet needs to take care of their overall well-being. At the very minimum you should have pet insurance that cover the cost of any emergency or surgical treatment that your pet requires. Bi-annual check-ups and vaccination can in most instances be covered without the need for pet insurance but, this is only applicable to households with one or at a maximum, two pets. If you're confident of your ability to pay for your pet’s maintenance and vaccinations, than opting for the emergency and surgical pet insurance would be enough. The plain truth is that if you cannot afford to ensure your pet – than you probably can’t afford to look after them and should probably not own a pet at all. Since surgery-only polices are cheaper there is no excuse for you not to ensure your pet – regardless of your financial situation.
When taking up a pet insurance policy it’s important to remember that doing so while the pet is still young is of paramount importance since it removes the possibility that chronic illnesses and allergies will develop prior to the policy commencement date – which would in such a case be considered a pre-existing condition and will therefore not be covered. In addition, many insurance companies will not insurance pets that are over a certain age and if they do, you’ll have to pay higher premiums, more excess on claims and will have to fork out the cash to pay for treatment of any pre-existing conditions.
You should also read the fine print to make sure that you are fully aware of any exclusions which is likely to include cataract operations, heartworm and pacemakers. Once your pet reaches a certain age (7-10 for dogs and 10 for cats), you’ll likely have a hike in your excess and premium as older pets are more susceptible to diseases. At the top of the range pet insurance policies will cover about 90% of all veterinarian fees as well as additional benefits like boarding fees for your pet if you're out of town. The better the insurance – the more you’ll be covered for while the cheaper your premiums the less you’ll be able to do with the policy. If you have more than one pet – getting pet insurance for each of them is a viable option since the majority of insurers offer multi-pet insurance discounts that can make it so much more affordable. In addition, owning more than one pet means that you're at a greater risk of not being able to afford the care that they need particularly if they become ill at the same time or within short time increments.