Pet Insurance For Your Shih Tzu:  Why It May Be A Good Idea

Dog not feeling well

If you're wondering if you need pet health insurance or not, read this article and then decide if it makes sense for you.

We all like to take care of what we have...our family, our homes and even our cars have insurance.  So having pet insurance to care for your dog when she gets sick, seems pretty logical too.

If you’re like my household, your Shih Tzu dogs are part of the family too, and as family members, we want them to care for them like we do ourselves.

That said, lets look into why pet insurance may be helpful to you and your furbaby.

What Is Pet Health Insurance?

Pet Insurance covers your veterinary expenses in case your pet becomes ill or is injured. 

Many pet owners don't consider insurance until it is too late, and that can be a costly mistake. 

Veterinarian bills can be extremely expensive, especially when it comes to things like surgery.

So having pet insurance can save you from unexpected expenses which can go up to thousands of dollars depending on what illness or injury your pet has incurred. 

How Does Pet Insurance Work?

Pet insurance works a lot like human health insurance in that the insurance plan pays a portion of the veterinarian bill.

You choose a deductible, pay a monthly fee and choose a veterinarian who participates in the insurance plan.

How it differs from human insurance is that you pay the veterinarian in full then submit a claim to the insurance company for reimbursement on the covered treatments. 

How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost?

There are several variables in the cost of pet insurance and there isn't a "one size fits all" plan. 

The plan you choose, deductibles, age of pet, and pre-existing conditions will greatly influence the cost you will pay for coverage.

It comes with its set of deductibles, co-pays, premiums and usually no coverage for pre-existing health conditions. 

Insurance premium can go up or down depending on how much of a deductible you opt for and how much you are willing to co-pay in case of an insurance claim.

In fact, like humans, pet health insurance can be more expensive for older animals that are more prone to getting sick.

Some of the better insurances may also cover wellness procedures including vaccinations, neutering, heartworm testing and the like.

And with advancement in biotechnology, veterinary expenses have increased considerably due to costs associated with state of the art equipment being used to diagnose the illness.

Also, the demand for veterinarians has increased, and so has the cost of training and providing quality service.

All these factors increase the costs associated with taking proper care of your pet’s health.

Why You May Need Pet Insurance

Almost  all pets at some time during their life will get a disease, infection, or have some sort of accident and that means a trip to the vet.

Depending on your pets health this can be even more expensive if they need specific specialist treatment or surgery.

Imagine for a moment your precious pup is severely injured in a dog fight.  This recently happened to a friend of mine.

She was outside throwing the ball to her dog as she does nearly every day.

She had heard, then seen two dogs aggressively barking from behind the fence and decided to bring her dog indoors as a precaution. 

But before she could get inside those two dogs hopped the fence and ran into her yard, viciously attacking her dog.

It took only moments for this to happen.  

Thankfully a neighbor had heard her screams for help, and managed to get the attacking dogs away from them. 

But by then the damage was done as there was a massive amount of injuries to her beloved dog.

She rushed her dog to an emergency Veterinarian where she would find the medical bills ran into the thousands of dollars.  

She hadn't planned for something like this, and although had some money put away, she didn't have the means to pay for the medical care her dog would need to be well again.

Although the medical staff was sympathetic to her, they told her that she would have to make a decision to either go ahead with the surgeries or put her beloved dog down.

She was devastated by the thought of doing the later, but didn't know how she was going to pay for what was needed.

For many pet parents, this is simply out of their budget, and in those cases they often have to make the decision to proceed with the expensive medical treatments and go into debt, or to let their beloved pet go.

My friend, not wanting to say goodbye to her furbaby was able to borrow money to cover the expensive medical treatment that would be needed for that day as well as follow up treatments.

She had to drain her bank account and was broke for several months afterwards having to pay back what she borrowed.

She realized too late that had she purchased pet insurance the majority of those medical bills would have been paid.

But her precious pup has recovered incredibly well and has bounced back to her happy doggy self in spite of the severity of the attack.

She is so grateful that her beloved pooch is still with her and is doing so well.

Putting aside money for an event like this may be a good alternative to insurance, however in many cases we don't save nearly enough before something like what happened to my friend, occurs. 

When you purchase a health insurance policy it is immediately available to you if you need it right away, whether from an attack, injury or a serious illness.

Curious dog looking through fence

Types of Pet Health Insurance

When opting for pet insurance, it is important that you consult with your veterinarians to understand what type of coverage would benefit your pet the most.

You should have a fair idea about the deductibles and co-pays that you need to pay on your insurance plan.  

Some insurance companies may not cover pre-existing health conditions, or they might have specific veterinarians on their panels.

Confirm that your veterinarian is on the approved list of doctors on the pet health insurance plans you are choosing.

Many insurance companies offer pet insurance, however not all plans are the same. 

Some of the widely used insurance policies include:

Accident Only Plans

If you are concerned about your pet injuring itself due to an accident such as falling from a high place or being struck by a moving object, you can opt for Accident only insurance which covers injuries including broken bones or burns.  However, this type of insurance may not cover health issues due to an illness.

Pet Wellness Plans

These plans cover for routine checkups and prevention concerns including annual physical checkup, flea and tick preventatives, neutering and vaccinations.  Having such health plans allow you to minimize expenses while keeping an eye on your pet’s health with routine checkups.

Lifetime Insurance Plans

These types of plans provide your pet with most comprehensive coverage giving you relief in case of health, accidental, or any other preventive and regular health expense related to your pet.  Since they are quite comprehensive regarding coverage, they are usually the most expensive to maintain.

Lifetime insurance plans are ideal for pets that have a chronic illness and require complicated surgical procedures on a regular basis.

Apart from these primary types, there are times or amount capped insurances as well,  which cover your pet’s health till you reach a certain threshold such as 12 months or $1500. 

Best Pet Health Insurance 

Boy hugging his dog

To find your perfect insurance plan, you need to ask yourself questions like:

  • how much you want to spend on your premium,
  • how much deductible you can afford on a claim and, 
  • what percentage of expense would you be willing to share with your insurance provider normally termed as co-pay.

Before choosing the perfect plan for your pet, you should also call your veterinarian to ask what type of insurance plan would best suit your pet’s health needs.

Once you have received the answers to all of your questions, you are ready to shop for the perfect plan that will take care of your pet's health expense.

While looking for the perfect health insurance plan for your pet, you should look for the following aspects:

Coverage Options

  • The best insurance package is one which provides multiple options for selecting your deductible amounts, your payout percentages and does not put a cap on your treatment plan.

    Some of the best insurance plans in the market allow you to choose a deductible amount from as low as $100 to as high as $500.

    They provide you multiple payout options as well on your final bill.  The best insurance plan will not limit your coverage to a period or a dollar amount.

Add-on Options

  • Add-on options are great features for your pet's health insurance. These include dental care, travel insurance and the like.  If your insurance policy includes these services, they will be a great benefit in maintaining your pet’s hygiene and make it easier for you to travel together with your pet.

Customer Service

  • Customer service is the key to selecting your perfect insurance plan. When selecting your pet’s health insurance, you should browse through online reviews to read about the customer service of your potential insurance provider. 

    A company with great customer service will process your claims faster and help you in identifying quick solutions for your pet’s health problems.

Coverage for Hereditary and Pre-Existing Conditions

  • Depending on the stage of your pet’s life at the time of opting for health insurance, there might be pre-existing or hereditary health conditions that some insurance providers may not cover. 

    Talk to your veterinarian to confirm any pre-existing health issues and make sure that they are getting coverage in your pet's health insurance policy.

Low Premium

  • It is all about how much premium you are paying every month.

    The best insurance plan is one that gives you appropriate coverage with an economically viable premium plan.  The best pet health insurance plan would be competitive with the market and within your monthly budget.

As a devoted parent to your pet, you always want to see them healthy and active.

Unfortunately, illness is a part of life, and you cannot foresee what accident might occur resulting in an injury to your pet.  It is important to get the best pet health insurance for any unforeseen circumstances so that you do not have to spend beyond your means.

Getting insurance for your pet may just be as important as getting insurance for yourself, it simply gives you a peace of mind if an unexpected illness or accident strikes.

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    There are more pet insurance providers in the market today than ever before. If you have the right type of pet health insurance, you can manage your pet’s healthcare needs conveniently within your budget


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