Pet insurance as a perk

A small but growing number of employers are offering pet health insurance as a fringe benefit.  Considering that the American Pet Products Association estimates that Americans will spend $14.2 billion on veterinary services this year, it may be worth looking into.

Dr. Summer Heyerly of the Imperial Point Veterinary Hospital in Florida says those unexpected emergencies could make the premiums for pet insurance worth it.  “A patient of mine came in and ate a ball and had to have a 1500-dollar surgery,” she says.  “And they had TruPanion, so they had to pay their deductible and they were able to afford the surgery.”

Dr. Heyerly says so far the number of insured pets has reached the low double digits.  “Ten to 15 percent of the clients who come in have pet insurance,” she says.  “And it’s on the rise.”

Stacy Johnson, CPA, says pet insurance should be approached with caution.  “It’s not the same thing as insurance for people,” he points out. “People insurance has all kinds of stuff that’s regulated.  A lot of animal insurance isn’t.  So you’ve got to ask a lot of questions to know what you’re getting.”  Johnson says to ask about coverage for matters such as annual vaccines, accidents, and diagnostics.

Dr. Heyerly agrees.  “Are there preexisting conditions that are excluded from the policy?” she suggests.  The insurers “need to answer those questions for you.”  Bottom line: do some number-crunching to see if the premiums fit into your budget.  Ask your veterinarian for recommendations.   And read the fine print.

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