Pet Insurance for Cats: Why You Need It and How To Compare Policies
I can easily remember the first time I realized just how valuable pet insurance for cats can be. It was many years ago when some very loving cat owners walked into my hospital with a cat named Tiggy, who literally looked as though he was knocking on death’s door
. It was clear from the moment Tiggy came in that this was going to be a very expensive veterinary visit. He obviously needed hospitalization, IV fluids, blood work, urinalysis, and possibly x-rays or other imaging studies and even tube feeding – and all of that just to diagnose
his cat health condition. Treating whatever feline illness Tiggy had, if it was treatable, could be a hefty additional expense.
I was honest with his owners and told them that saving Tiggy, if we could, could cost thousands of dollars. They wanted to try, and explained that, fortunately, they had cat health insurance.
Cats can have any number of medical emergencies during their lifetime, from GI obstructions,urinary blockages or viruses that stop them from eating to cat heart disease and kidney failure. In Tiggy’s case, he was in cat kidney failure, and he recovered and lived well until very recently in large part because there was pet insurance for cats to cover his veterinary expenses.
It breaks my heart, but in both my veterinary practice and my communications online, I have seen far too many cats lose their lives because their owners were unable to afford to treat their cats' illnesses. For example,
this loving pet owner is sadly struggling with the decision of whether or not to euthanize her cat because of a heart condition that has developed secondary to feline hyperthyroidism. The saddest part is that this particular cat illness is very easily treated. The cat could have many, many healthy happy years ahead, but due to financial constraints and the fact that maintaining a hyperthyroid cat does involve regular blood work and medical rechecks, the owner is in quite the heartbreaking predicament.
Cat Health Care Costs & Pet Insurance
Surprisingly few people have cat health insurance. Yet, more and more owners want to take the best of care of their cats and that care sometimes gets very expensive. What to do? Get Pet Insurance for your Cats!
Veterinary medicine has, over the last few years, acquired a degree of technology and capability that is comparable to that of human medicine. High-tech diagnostics, intricate surgeries, cancer treatment, and even organ transplants have become a part of our pets' lives. Treatments once reserved for humans are now available for pets. However, these state-of-the-art treatments may cost from $1,000 to more than $5,000. How do you afford high-cost care for yourself? Hopefully, you have health insurance. Well, your cat needs cat Health Insurance!
Many loving cat owners think that either they will never have an emergency with their cats, or that they would draw the line at a certain amount of money being invested in their cats' health care. However, when push comes to shove, many owners find themselves wavering on their feline health care budgets when a crisis starts. When emotions become involved, as they often do when your cat is sick, many wish they had pet insurance for their cats. Even those who say their cats are "just pets," often find that they quickly become part of the family.
And then, of course, there are those of us who know we would want to do anything possible to save our cats, including spending thousands of dollars on pet medical or surgical care. If you belong to this group, it's time you signed up for pet health insurance, a preferable alternative to going into debt. It's time to purchase Pet Insurance for Cats.
Why Having Pet Insurance for Cats is Necessary
In my mind, cat health insurance has become a necessity, not an option
. It may be hard to imagine yourself in the situation where your cat's life depends on pet insurance if your cat companion is very young and healthy and stays indoors. Your kitty may be in perfect health today.
But what about tomorrow? What about next year? What about when she's 8 or 10 or 14?
Things change, your cat grows older, feline illnesses can occur (and if your cat lives long enough WILL occur), and your kitty may need extensive veterinary care. This is why having pet insurance for cats becomes necessary.
I hate to bring up sad subjects, but you need to know why you should be considering cat health insurance. What if your cat is outdoors and gets hit by a car? Or bitten by another animal? Or ingests a plant that is poisonous to cats? Can you easily lay out hundreds or thousands of dollars to save your cat or would you need pet insurance? Cats, even indoor ones, can end up with some very expensive medical bills.
As you know, you can't predict when something is going to happen. In fact, if you're like me, difficult times usually catch you totally by surprise. Cats, in particular, are famous for appearing fine one day and very sick the next. Fortunately, the good news is that while you can't predict the future of your cat's health, you can prepare for it.
There are a few different ways you can prepare for unexpected pet expenses, including opening a savings account just for cat care. However, there's probably many other things tugging at your savings. By far, the easiest method and the way to get the most for your money and have peace-of-mind is to get pet insurance for your cats.
You may be thinking that if you pay 10.00 per month for cat health insurance, therefore $120.00 per year, and you pay that for 18 years (a perfectly reasonable age to hope your cat reaches), you will have spent $2160.00. Sound like a lot? Sure, but not when you think about the fact that you could spend that or more on ONE feline illness or one cat accident. In the course of an 18-year lifespan, most cats experience far more than one accident or cat illness and with pet insurance, cats can receive the necessary care every time!
Statistics show that pets will require unexpected veterinary treatments at various times over their lifetimes. There has been tremendous progress in veterinary medical care. Your veterinarian is a highly skilled expert with the ability to practice the latest medical techniques that may be required to return your cat to good health. If you have pet insurance, cat care costs will be more manageable and you can provide the high quality veterinary care that you want for your feline friend.
You have to be careful, however. Not all pet insurance policies are created equally. Pet care insurance is similar to your own health insurance - many plans have deductibles, maximums, and even co-insurance.
Conducting a Pet Insurance Comparison
There are SO many different companies these days - selecting the right company can be overwhelming and confusing. Conducting a pet insurance comparison is the only way to decide which plan will work best for you and your cats.
It’s not difficult, but it’s necessary to compare pet insurance companies. When you're deciding which plan to sign up for, you have to evaluate several different factors: what it is going to cost you monthly, the amount of any deductibles, the amount of the co-pay for the various procedures, and the limit the insurance will cover in any given incident or time period.
Sound complicated? Fortunately, many pet insurance companies are now offering customizable plans or tiered plans, covering a variety of cat owners’ concerns. Most companies are also very open to helping you find your way through the world of pet insurance coverage.
While VPI (Vet Pet Insurance) is one of the oldest and largest, there are many other options now such as QuickCare Pet Insurance and Embrace Pet Insurance.
There are many different things to consider when selecting the best pet insurance. Cats are complex creatures, so you will have to consider any pre-existing problems, hereditary or chronic conditions, higher premiums for certain breeds, your cat's age, and the number of cats you plan to insure.
Make sure you understand what you are buying and read through all of the inclusions and exclusions of your pet insurance policies. Some policies will only cover accidents or injuries, while others also cover illnesses. A few offer comprehensive coverage, including not only accident and illness coverage, but also preventive care from annual or biannual checkups to vaccinations to neutering and more. Many cat health insurance companies are now offering ways to design your own policy to get some of all of these potential expenses.
Key Points About Pet Insurance for Cats
(1) There can be age restrictions associated with a pet insurance policy. Be sure you understand what they are. Find out if coverage begins at birth for a new kitten or if they have to be a certain number of weeks old. Likewise, is there a cutoff age past which your cat will no longer be insured? You certainly want to know that. Older cats can need the insurance even more than younger so you don't want to get a policy that stops when your cat is 10 years old!
The age of your cat is a big factor in selecting a pet insurance plan. Kittens have different needs from those of senior cats. For example, in the first year of life, kittens need more routine appointments as they get their vaccinations and boosters. They also need surgery, either spaying or castration. Kittens are also more likely to get into poisons or ingest foreign objects. You'll want to take that into account when doing a cat health insurance comparison.
After your kitten matures a bit, you will want to be more concerned with dental care, urinary tract infections, ear and eye infections, and other routine conditions as well as any coverage you may or may not want for annual routine cat care.
Geriatric cats, on the other hand, are more likely to come down with serious but treatable conditions such as cat diabetes, feline hyperthyroidism, or feline chronic renal disease. These conditions require an entirely different kind of pet insurance. Cats that develop geriatric conditions that, while very treatable most of the time, can become very expensive. Other disorders of senior cats include feline cancer, cat heart disease, and cat arthritis.
The elderly years are more likely to be the times you need the insurance most so be very careful about reading the policy before you buy. In general, pet insurance companies are usually willing to provide an insurance policy for your pet if he is between the ages of 8 weeks and 8 to 10 years old. With a medical exam, you may be able to get coverage for a cat older than that.
(2) Is Your Cat an Indoor only Cat or Indoor/Outdoor? While indoor cats can certainly get injured, it is MUCH less likely than if they are outdoors. The chance of being poisoned also rises significantly if your cat is outside.
(3) Does your kitty have a hereditary condition? Very few pet insurance companies cover hereditary conditions so if your pet falls into this category, you'll definitely want to pursue a pet insurance comparison.
(4) Does your kitty already have an illness or condition that requires regular vet care? These are known to the pet insurance world as "preexisting conditions" and most companies do not cover these. Check the pet insurance company's policy details carefully.
(5) You definitely want to find out how soon after you get your new policy you will be able to use it. There is often a waiting period which is the period of time after the policy is issued until you are allowed to use it. That period of time can be anywhere between 2 days and 30 days, depending on the company and depending on whether the incident is an illness or an accident.
(6) Is there a discount for having multiple pets?
(7) What is the deductible per year? Per incident? Per visit?
(8) Is there a co-pay (an amount you must pay per visit or incident in addition to the deductible)?
(10) What are the exclusions (pre-existing conditions, hereditary exclusions, exclusions due to age, etc.)?
(11) Is there a maximum amount of reimbursement per year? Per incident? Per condition (disease or accident)? Per the life of the pet?
(12) What is the process for getting reimbursed and how long will it be before you are reimbursed?
(13) What type of rate increases can you expect and how often? Can the policy be discontinued for any reason?
(14) How long has the company been in business? What is their reputation? What do current or previous policy holders have to say about the company?
(15) Most often, you are required to pay the veterinary hospital for their services at the time they are performed and then you send in a claim and get reimbursed by your insurance company. Some companies can and will make exceptions to this but this must be arranged between you, your veterinarian, and the pet insurance company on a case-by-case basis.
Cheapest Pet Insurance
It is not possible to know exactly which company is the cheapest pet insurance company. New companies come on the scene frequently, the price of a company's policies can change at any moment, and one option offered by a company may be the cheapest while a different option may be cheaper at another company.
For example, Company A may have a cheaper accident-only plan for your kitty, but Company B may have the cheapest wellness plan. For actual costs, you can request a pet insurance quote from both of them and any other reputable pet insurance company. A pet insurance comparison should always be done when you are shopping for the best pet insurance policy for your cat.
Keep in mind, however, that the cheapest pet insurance may actually be the most expensive in the long run. If you get the cheapest plan that covers the least and has the highest deductible, you may end up with a higher veterinary bill if something unexpected happens to your pet. Also, keep in mind, the cheapest is not always the best if it costs you more in the long run or gives your pet less than the best of care.
For that reason, it is extremely important that you do a pet insurance comparison. The best way to make the best decision is to visit each company's website and read all details very carefully. If one pet insurance company has a much lower price on an option, read the fine print and make sure you know what you're getting (or not getting!)
Customer Reviews can also be very helpful. Actually hearing what pet lovers who have used a particular pet insurance company have to say about it can sometimes be very revealing. In particular, you want to look for negative reviews about claims not being paid as promised.
Pet insurance is the greatest gift you can give yourself and your cat. Be sure, however, to do your research and find the right pet insurance company for your cats.
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