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Unlike humans, most pets aren’t covered by medical insurance. In fact, according to the 2017 – 2018 American Pet Products Association’s National Pet Owners Survey, only about 10 percent of dogs and 5 percent of cats have pet insurance.

While trips to the veterinarian can become a costly endeavor over a pet’s lifetime, pet insurance can help lower these costs. But with a variety of options to choose from, it’s important to do your research before choosing a pet insurance plan. And one of the most important things to understand about pet insurance centers around what is and isn’t included in the policy you’re considering.

For example, a development disorder that your vet thinks your pet had since birth may not be covered, and neither would a health issue that could have been prevented by a vaccine you didn’t get for your pet.

Like human health insurance, pet insurance has a deductible. You can select coverage for 70, 80 or 90 percent of your pet’s vet bill to be covered by the policy, with you picking up the rest.

It’s also important to remember that pet insurance is generally for serious problems such as illnesses and injury, and not for regular checkups or preventive care.

Most plans don’t cover pre-existing conditions, making it worthwhile to sign up for a plan as soon as you can. Otherwise, a pre-existing condition could be spotted later in your pet’s life, which would likely make a policy more expensive or difficult to get.

For those with dogs, you’ll also want to consider the breed, as mixed-breed dogs from a dog shelter can often have lower pet insurance premiums than a pedigree dog from a breeder. This boils down to the fact that pure-breed dogs come from a small gene pool and are more likely to suffer from genetic disorders.

If pet insurance is too expensive for you, or you’re not getting your money’s worth, consider putting funds into a separate savings account in case a medical emergency does occur.

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