Pet Columns, Office of Public Engagement, College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Pet Insurance May Help Keep Pets Healthy


Pet Column for the week of September 24, 2001


Office of Public Engagement
2001 S. Lincoln Ave.
Urbana, Illinois 61802
Phone: 217/333-2907
Jennifer Stone
Information Specialist

Most people wouldn't dream of going without insurance for themselves and their families, but what happens when a beloved pet suddenly gets ill or has some kind of accident? Veterinary bills can add up and put a financial burden on the household when there is a crisis, but until a few years ago, the idea of having insurance for pets seemed ridiculous. These days more and more people are taking advantage of pet insurance to ensure that their pet will receive the best care available should an emergency arise.

Dr. Barbara Kitchell, who heads the medical oncology service at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Urbana, knows that treatment for cancer can be very costly. "I think that pet insurance is well worth the investment for my cancer clients," comments Dr. Kitchell. "The insurance companies have been very good about paying out, allowing people to afford otherwise cost-prohibitive therapy. I am even thinking about getting it for my own animals!"

Dr. Pamela Jones, a veterinary oncology resident at the hospital, adds, "The thing that I have heard people say most often about pet insurance is 'I thought about getting pet insurance, but I didn't and now it is too late. I wish that I had gotten it before my pet got sick.' "

Several companies currently offer pet insurance in the United States. They offer a variety of plans to fit your pet's individual needs. Most policies require that the veterinary bill be paid by the client at the time that the veterinary service is provided. The client must then submit a claim to the insurance company, which reimburses the client. Some of the companies require that a flat deductible be paid, while others require that a percentage of each visit be covered by the client.

One of the benefits of having pet insurance is that many of the policies available cover not only emergency care but also routine expenses such as vaccinations and routine surgery such as neutering and spaying.

Another type of pet insurance that is steadily gaining popularity with pet owners is one that resembles a human HMO. With this type of policy, the pet owner is not required to pay the bill. Instead, the veterinarian must submit the paperwork to the insurance company in order to be paid for the services provided. This type of coverage may be attractive to pet owners, but may not be as widely accepted by veterinarians because of the paperwork involved.

Some of the pet insurance companies are not approved in all 50 states, so if you decide to purchase pet insurance, make sure that the policy you buy is valid in your state.

There is no doubt that veterinary pet insurance will continue to grow in popularity as more and more people make pets a part of their families. For more information about pet insurance, please contact the following companies.

Veterinary Pet Insurance
(800) USA-PETS
www.petinsurance.com

Premier Pet Insurance
(877) 774-2273
www.ppins.com

PetCare Pet Insurance Programs
(866) 275-PETS
www.petcarepals.com

Petshealth Care Plan
(800) 807-6724
www.petshealthplan.com

TruePaws Family Pet Insurance Company
(877) 832-6195
www.truepaws.com