With the average American’s earning potential continuing to decrease in the current economic downturn, while veterinary costs steadily increasing nonetheless, pet health insurance has become more popular among pet owners, according to an article in Veterinary Practice News. Per the article, Pet Health Insurance premium sales this year have increased by 100,000 – 150,000 policies written from previous years nationwide. The article went on to cite a report that indicates that the pet health insurance industry is forcasted to grow by 25%-35% annually over the next 5 years.
From a veterinarian’s perspective, this trend generally speaking is a poositive for the veterinary industry, but there are still some aspects that concern me. On one hand, quality pet health coverage helps pet owners pay for necessary veterinary care in the untimely incidence of pet illness or injury. Sick animals do not have to go without treatment because of financial constraints, and we get to perform our jobs to the best of our ability, unhampered by owner financial constraints. On the other hand, however, not all pet insurance companies are quality, and some pet owners are bound to get duped into purchasing premiums that ultimately do not fulfill expectations.
The solution for pet owners is to properly research pet health insurance companies before committing to a policy. Utilize consumer reporting agencies such as the better business bureau, and ask fellow pet owners and people in the pet care industry, such as groomers, trainers, and breeders, if they have pet health insurance preferences.
With more pet owners inquiring about pet insurance and veterinary clinics encouraging quality pet health insurance to help pet owners offset vet costs, many veterinarians are increasingly keeping a close eye on the industry, getting a solid feel for which pet health insurance companies are of good quality, and which ones should be avoided. This may make your vet a good source of pet health insurance company information and reputation.
Overall, I think that pet health insurance with a quality company under the current industry structure (re-reimbursement for vet costs remaining a matter directly between the owner and the insurance company with no veterinary clinic billing responsibilities), is a good idea for pet owners that do not think they could financially handle a sudden work-up and treatment regimen for their pet, that these days could approach a few to several thousands of dollars. A pet health insurance policy with a reputable company could be the difference in having to make the tough choice of choosing between the financial the stability of your family and saving the life of your beloved family pet.