Personal Finance

Money Matters: Is pet insurance a wise investment?

Q. We have a new Maltese puppy and my husband and I are in a disagreement about buying pet insurance. I think we should and he thinks it would be a waste of money. This puppy wasn’t inexpensive and he thinks we’ve already spent too much money but I think we should protect our investment. What are your thoughts about pet insurance?

A. Maltese is an expensive breed of dog but they are very cute and loving. As with most insurance, you hope you never need it but if you do you are glad to have it in place. Without pet insurance you may find yourselves in the uncomfortable position of deciding to put your dog to sleep or facing a financial crisis as a result of the cost a life saving procedure. You should shop around for a policy and once you know the coverage and premium options you will be in a better position to decide if this insurance is right for you and if so, what type to buy. The following are some of the main options you will want to review when comparing pet insurance providers.

Review the procedures and services the plan will both cover and exclude.

Some of the coverage to look for would be congenital and hereditary conditions, visits with specialists and routine or wellness care. If routine care is desired can it be added to any level of policy or is it only offered with the more expensive policies? Is the annual allowance for routine care a fixed or flexible reimbursement? A flexible reimbursement plan is usually preferable since you can allocate the annual allowance to the actual bills you incur that year and not be limited to a fixed amount assigned by the insurance company for that care. You also want to know how claims will be paid for non-routine procedures. If you do have a claim will it be paid based on your actual veterinary bill or what they think the charge for the procedure should be?

When comparing premiums and coverage make sure you are comparing plans with the same deductible. I know of one company that offers a diminishing deductible feature. Each year you don’t have a claim reimbursement, you receive a $50 credit toward your pet’s annual deductible.

Most policies won’t cover pre-existing conditions. If you are unsure if there are any pre-existing conditions, some providers will offer a free medical history review after you purchase a policy. If the report comes back and contains something of which you were unaware you can cancel the policy and receive a full refund.

Good luck with your decision and congratulations on your new puppy!