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Healthy Pets

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Pet Medical Insurance

Questions to Ask Before You Buy a Pet Health Insurance Plan

How can I find a reputable provider of pet insurance policies?

Asking your vet to recommend a plan is a good first step. They're not permitted to sell pet insurance, Sullivan says, so you don't have to worry about them pushing "their" plan. She also tells WebMD that your vet will likely recommend a plan that other clients have had success with.

No single organization, as yet, sets policy or standards for pet health insurance, but plans are regulated state by state by the state attorney general's office. Sullivan says you can call your state attorney general's office and ask if any complaints have been filed against the company or companies you are considering.

You can also ask others with the plan to tell you about their experiences.

What should I look for when shopping for a pet insurance policy?

It sounds obvious, but try to fit the policy to your pet's needs and your own. If you can easily handle routine vaccination expenses for one pet, you may not need a wellness coverage policy.

But if you have four dogs or cats, such a plan might be cost-effective.

If you have questions after reading the marketing material, call the company and ask what is covered and what isn't.

If you have more than one pet, Sullivan suggests you ask if you can get a group rate. Two dogs in a single household might get a group rate, but it's less likely to be given to a dog and a cat under the same roof.

When should I buy pet medical insurance?

''Better late than never is one approach," Klingborg says. "However, it would make sense to look into it if you are bringing a new animal home."

"A lot of these companies focus on wellness care,” Klingborg says. ”So they will often provide very good reimbursement for the vaccination series and for spaying and neutering. All of those [services] are associated with fewer animal [health] problems in the future."

If you wait, a health condition in an older dog or cat might rule out coverage.

Sullivan, for instance, can't get coverage for her 16-year-old Lab, who has heart disease and a history of ear and knee problems.

You might ask your vet if your particular breed has a tendency for certain health problems, especially expensive or complicated problems, Tait says. "Saint Bernards and German Shepherds are prone to orthopedic problems," he says. "Boxers are prone to heart problems. Little dogs, like pugs, often have breathing problems."

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