Most pet owners don’t really think about insuring their pets. The rising costs of veterinary care are usually enough to pay for, especially for those owners whose animals are young and healthy. But when a major disease or illness occurs, it can really make us wish we had thought ahead and gotten insurance. Most serious illnesses and diseases don’t appear in our pets until they are older, so insuring younger pets usually doesn’t cross a pet owner’s mind until it is too late.
Insuring your pet while it is young does have many benefits. The first, of course, is in the case of accidents, which are completely unpredictable and can happen at any age. These are often traumatic events which can lead to extensive surgery and care, and can shock any owner who isn’t prepared for such an event, which is most of us.
More often, though, the reasons are not so shocking, and if we look at pet care like we would our own care in our golden years, enrolling our best friends in a policy while young and still healthy makes a lot of sense. Here’s why:
Lowered Costs Compared to Those of Older Pets
Insurance for younger pets is always going to be cheaper than insuring your senior animals. Older animals develop more problems, just like people, and insurance to cover them will always be more than that of a younger pet by double or triple the cost, or more. An average policy for a healthy one year old dog or cat can range from $13 to $50 a month, depending on the species, size, breed, sex, and policy details. For an 8 to 13 year old pet, policies can exceed over $200 a month.
The younger your pet is when insured, the better your rates will be. If your pet is insured young with a nice low premium, and remains insured throughout his life, by the time he reaches old age when problems begin to surface, he will be covered and may have lowered premiums than an older animal who was enrolled later in life. For most companies, premiums do increase with the age of the pet, but generally remain lower if they have been insured since they were young.
Age When Your Pet is Uninsurable
All insurance policies will generally cover pets as early as 8 weeks old, and as late as middle-age. It’s when an elderly pet needs coverage that companies generally have a cutoff age in which they will not accept your pet. This can be anywhere from 7 to 14 years of age, depending on the company. This does seem ludicrous, as older pets are the ones who need more medical care, but that’s exactly why insurance companies do not want to insure them.
Older pets need more veterinary visits and care because of the various problems that come with age, such as kidney, urinary, periodontal and heart disease, cataracts and glaucoma, arthritis, diabetes, and cancer. These are serious conditions that require expensive treatments. For those animals without insurance, they can be quite the burden for their owners who may not be able to afford the expense, which can range in the hundreds to thousands. Insuring a pet while young will not only guarantee coverage during that crucial senior time of life, but it may also keep your premiums low, and give you the ability to get the treatment your best friend needs.
The Problem with Pre-existing Conditions
There is no insurance company that will cover pre-existing conditions. None. What each company defines as a pre-existing condition can change what they will pay out on a claim, so you do need to do some research if your animal has one. But generally, a pre-existing condition is an injury or illness that is present before the policy began, or that exists before the end of the waiting period. The waiting period is a time frame after the beginning of the policy in which any illnesses or accidents are not covered, and will range from company to company.
These conditions can be anything from respiratory and digestive problems, to allergies, cancer, or diabetes, and can be very tricky. For instance, there are cases where the insurance company might go further back than the time frame that the policy stated when you had enrolled to look for evidence of the condition. An eye problem today might be traced back to allergies that were treated 2 years ago.
This problem of pre-existing conditions, and when they might have begun, can be eliminated if your pet was already covered throughout most of its life. The younger your pet is when insured, the less chance there is of an illness or disease occurring during those first few weeks or months of enrollment, therein ensuring that anything that comes up later is covered under your policy.
When you are staring at a cute baby animal, thinking ahead may be tough. They are vibrant and healthy, and ready to conquer the world. But they do not stay young forever, and caring for them may not always be so easy. Problems can arise and accidents can occur that are beyond your control. Take a moment, and think about how you can ensure that your new best friend can have the best of care in the worst of times.