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Pet Insurance for Puppies and Kittens

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The time to start thinking about pet insurance for your dog or cat is before it needs medical care, mostly likely when it's a puppy or kitten.

Insuring animals while they are young and healthy can eliminate substantial veterinary costs that can be incurred throughout the life of a pet. However, it is a decision that should be made early in your pet is a puppy or a kitten to avoid some of the exclusions common in the pet insurance industry.

“If you plan to insure your pet at all, it is best to do it when the pet is as young as possible and before it’s had any medical conditions,” said Darren Defeo, senior vice president of Trupanion, a Seattle-based pet insurance company. “No pet plans insure pre-existing conditions, that is, those that occur or show signs or symptoms before you get the plan.”

Unique plan

Trupanion is unique in that it insures only puppies and kittens between the ages of eight weeks and one year, and then provides lifetime coverage up to $20,000. Because pre-existing conditions are not a factor, the insurer is able to pass on savings to the consumer in the form of lower premiums.

Depending on the company, policies typically range from $24.00 to $37.00 per month for puppies and $14.00 to $24.00 per month for kittens. However, since the cost of veterinary care differs from state to state, premiums vary depending on zip code. The degree of coverage also fluctuates with the carrier.

Not only can insurance pay dividends in the long run for some pet owners, but covering puppies and kittens can reap financial benefits early on as well. Like small children, young animals are prone to unsafe behavior such as swallowing objects, which can require expensive emergency medical care.

Allergy costs

Also, dogs and cats sometime develop allergies that require a lifetime’s worth of costly medication. That medication could cost as much as $200 per month, and over the life of a pet can add up to more than $20,000. With pet insurance, that same medication would cost roughly $20 per month less any deductibles.

Although the savings can be substantial when insurance is purchased for a young animal, some pet owners wait until their pet is in need of medical care before they consider insurance. That can lead to a difficult financial decision that can compromise the health of a pet.

“The majority of people wait until it’s too late to get insurance,” Defeo said. “They wait until they have a $5,000 surgery or until their pet has those allergies that cost $200 a month to treat. Unfortunately, those things that occur before they get the insurance will not be covered.”

Changing trends

Unlike human health or car insurance, which are standard expenditures in most U.S. budgets, pet insurance is still not a staple for most pet owners. However, as the industry continues to grow, more pet owners are realizing the benefits of insuring their new additions.

“Most people in the United States and Canada have yet to hear about pet insurance or accept it as a customary practice,” Defeo added. “So many of them don’t look into it until they realize just how expensive veterinary treatment can be.”

Credit: Reviewed by Amy I. Attas, V.M.D.
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