Pet insurance: Is it worth it?

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Pet insurance: Is it worth it?
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Buying pet insurance could end up costing you more in the long run.

Read more: These 11 dog breeds are most often blacklisted by insurance

Not true peace of mind?

When it comes to our animals, there are so many procedures done today for household pets that we didn’t think to do a generation ago.

‘I remember there was a hospital in Los Angeles that actually converted to being an animal hospital. They could make more money treating animals than they could treating humans because we do so many medical interventions [for pets],’ Clark says.

No wonder pet insurance is a fast-growing business. But Clark says buying a pet insurance policy is ‘not true peace of mind.’

For starters, your typical policy can cost up to $500 a year. And if you do decide to buy this insurance, you have to beware of exclusions based on breed.

Want a better alternative to pet insurance? Clark says you should start a savings account to pay for vet care when your animal does need it.

If you are going to buy pet insurance, pay attention to the following:

Read the fine print.  Know the limitations, cost-sharing and service fees. What are your deductibles? What are your co-pays? Select coverage with simple, percentage-based payouts. Skip the stuff that relies on judgments of what’s ‘reasonable.’

Know the exclusions. Chronic diseases generally aren’t covered, and insurers often won’t pay for known defects among certain breeds. And of course, no insurer covers pre-existing conditions. Watch out for a maximum limit on treatment for individual illnesses too.

Skip the riders. Wellness care riders, as just one example, are deemed ‘generally not worth the price’ by Consumer Reports magazine.

Take the highest deductible that makes sense. As with all insurance, a higher deductible will usually result in lower premiums for you.

Watch out for premium increases. Pet insurers raise rates based on the age of your pet, veterinary cost inflation and the types of treatment that are potentially available for an illness.

Read more: This is one expense dog owners say is worth every penny

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Theo Thimou About the author:
Theo is director of content for clark.com. He has co-written 2 books with Clark Howard, including the #1 New York Times bestseller Clark Howard's Living Large in Lean Times.
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