Pet Insurance pays the veterinary costs if one's pet becomes ill or is injured in an accident. Some policies will also pay out when the pet dies, or if is lost or stolen.
The purpose of pet insurance is to mitigate the risk of incurring significant expense to treat ill or injured pets. As veterinary medicine is increasingly employing expensive medical techniques and drugs, and owners have higher expectations for their pets' health care and standard of living than previously, the market for pet insurance has increased.
The first pet insurance policy was written in 1890 by Claes Virgin. Virgin was the founder of Länsförsäkrings Alliance, at that time he focused on horses and livestock.Fact|date=July 2008 In 1947 the first pet insurance policy was sold in Britain. [ASPCA History of Pet Insurance (HTML)- http://www.aspcapetinsurance.com/insurance_research/history-of-pet-insurance.aspx ASPCA Pet Insurance Website. Retrieved on 2008-05-25.] In 1980 the first pet insurance company in the United States was founded by Dr Jack Stephens, DVM. Dr. Stephens' intention was to help put an end to the "economic euthanasia" of pets.
How policies work
Many pet owners believe pet insurance works like human health insurance. Actually, pet insurance reimburses the pet owner after the owner submits a claim to the insurance company. The claim is paid according to the terms of the policy purchased by the pet owner.
UK Policies usually pay 100% of vets fees. Policies in the USA usually offer to pay 80-90% Fact|date=July 2008 of the costs minus a
deductibledepending on the company and the specific policy. The owner will usually pay the amount due to the Vet, and then send in the claim form and receive reimbursement, which some companies and policies limit according to their own schedule of necessary and usual charges. In the event of a very high bill, some veterinarians will allow the owner to put off payment until the insurance claim is processed. Some insurers pay veterinarians directly on behalf of customers. Most U.S. policies require the pet owner to submit a request for fees incurred.Fact|date=July 2008
Traditionally, most pet insurance plans did not pay for preventative care (such as vaccinations) or elective procedures (such as neutering). Recently however, some companies in the UK and US are offering routine care coverage, or some times called comprehensive coverage.
In addition, companies often limit coverage for pre-existing medical conditions in order to eliminate fraudulent consumers, thus giving owners an incentive to insure even very young animals who are not expected to incur high veterinary costs while they are still healthy.
Some insurers offer options not directly related to pet health, including covering boarding costs for animals whose owners are hospitalized, or costs (such as rewards or posters) associated with retrieving lost animals. Some policies also include travel cancellation coverage if owners must remain with pets who need urgent treatment or are dying.
Some UK policies for dogs also include third party liability insurance. Thus, for example, if a dog causes a car accident that damages a vehicle, the insurer will pay to rectify the damage for which the owner is responsible under the
Animals Act 1971.
The difference between companies
The smart consumer will always check the details before signing up for a policy which may not cover your animal's condition. Some companies will use a benefit schedule covering only what they think a given procedure is worth. Other companies will not cover hereditary conditions. Finally, some companies will not renew your policy at the end of a given term or will consider a condition pre-existing after renewing your yearly contract and then refuse to cover the illness. Despite these set-backs, pet insurance can provide financial support enabling the dedicated pet owner to not factor in economic considerations while life-saving care is needed.
*'Benefit schedule' – a document created by a pet insurance company that lists allowances paid for a given diagnosis and treatment.
*'Deductible' - an amount that must be paid by the policy holder in a pet insurance policy for covered veterinary services. Higher deductibles usually translate to lower policy premiums.
*'Exclusion' - a condition that is excluded, or not covered under a pet insurance policy.
*'Pre-certification' – when a pet owner to submits a requested treatment to their pet insurance company to see if the treatment will be covered, and at what benefit level.
*'Pre-existing condition' - an injury or illness that occurred before the pet insurance policy became effective. Some pre-existing conditions are eligible for coverage after being cured and a specified period of time elapses. Other conditions cannot ever be covered regardless of time elapsed.
*'Coinsurance' - the percentage of your claim for which you are liable before any applicable deductible is applied.
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