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Pet insurance is a product that covers the cost of veterinary treatment for an ill or injured pet. Policies may pay out in the event of the pet’s death, in addition to loss or theft of the pet. In recent years, this type of insurance product has become more popular, a consequence of the rising cost of medical techniques, drugs, and veterinary attention. Compared to pet owners of previous generations, today’s owners have comparatively high expectations for their pet’s care and standard of living. 

History of Pet Insurance

Animal insurance policies have been around for more than a century; however, traditionally they focused on animals with significant economic potential or value, such as horses and livestock. Pet Insurance began in Britain. Policies started in 1947. Britain continues to have one of the highest rates of pet insurance, second only to Sweden. While 23% of pets are secured with pet insurance in Britain, in the United States, a mere 0.7% are covered through a pet insurance policy. In contrast, the United States’ first pet insurance policy was sold in 1982.

Cat & Dog Insurance

Insurance policies for pets are most likely to cover cats, dogs, and large animals, such as horses. Exotic or rare animals, such as parrots, may also be able to obtain coverage. 

Many pet owners believe that insurance policies for pets function in much the same way as a human health insurance plan. On the contrary, most cat and dog insurance policies are more comparable to property insurance policies. Owners of a pet insurance policy are reimbursed when the pet receives care a receipt for that care is submitted as a claim to the insurance policy. Some companies reimburse the policy holder for 100% of veterinary fees, while others reimburse fixed fees, requiring that the owner cover any excess. In the United States, policies may cover between 70-100% of vet costs, according to the company and the policy purchased. In most cases, though, the owner must pay the cost of veterinary fees up front and later submit a claim including a receipt to the insurance company.  

Preventative care, including vaccinations, and elective procedures, such as declawing cats, were once less likely to be covered by pet insurance plans. However, today, more and more companies in North America and the United Kingdom offer coverage for routine procedures and care. This may be referred to as comprehensive coverage.    

Pet Dental Insurance

Few pet insurance policies pay out for dental care. The sole exception is in the event that a pet’s teeth are damaged in an accident. With that said, there are companies that offer comprehensive dental coverage for pets such as dogs and cats. Dental coverage may be used for annual cleaning and issues with a pet’s teeth and/or gums. However, it’s important to read the policy carefully. Some specify that the pet must have had its teeth checked by a vet within a certain timeframe prior to the appearance of a problem. In addition, some pet dental insurance policies may not be purchased for pets beyond a given age. 

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