Sick dog with bandages lying on bed

Sick dog with bandages lying on bed

You buy only the best food for your four-legged pal. You make sure a regular visit to the groomer is part of your routine. You even make your canine or feline companion wear a ridiculous pet sweater in your family’s holiday portrait. Shots are all up to date and a regular physical is an annual event. But are you covered for medical bills above and beyond an annual checkup?

According to data from Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) posted on, the 10 most common claims last year were for relatively minor ailments–eye, ear, and skin infections; benign tumors; and digestive and urinary-tract ailments–and a handful of more serious problems. Costs for most of those averaged $100 to $200, but the highest bills for every type of illness ran from $600 to $4,400.

Just like health insurance for humans, there are different coverages available for pets. Be sure to do a little homework before purchasing coverage for Fluffy or Spot. Are there different deductibles? How about any co-pays? Does the coverage max out at any point? Do I pay up front and get reimbursed or does the vet bill the insurance company directly? Do I have to use a veterinarian in a network, or can I use any veterinarian?

Also, some animals have certain hereditary conditions and can be more susceptible to particular ailments. Will treatments associated with that be covered?  Many policies won’t pay for elective procedures. Ask if the policy has renewable benefits — if your pet receives treatment for a covered condition during the policy term, some companies will consider it a pre-existing condition when the policy renews and will not cover the condition in the renewal policy.

Your best bet is to talk with your insurance professionals to see what kinds of pet coverage are available. He or she will help you make a good, educated choice that will fit your needs and budget.