Yes, you can buy pet insurance to cover lab tests, routine medical procedures as well as major surgeries for cats, dogs, birds--even exotic animals.
It's best to purchase a policy when your pet is young before the animal develops health problems that could be determined pre-existing conditions and excluded from coverage. You can insure puppies and kittens as young as six weeks old. Animals that are 10 years or older are typically not eligible for a new policy.
Most pet insurance policies let you visit the veterinarian of your choice and then reimburse you for the covered services after you pay the bills. Typically they cover illnesses, surgeries, accidents, hospitalization, prescriptions and cancer treatment, but you can also buy additional coverage for routine care, such as vaccinations, flea control and spaying or neutering. Usually pet insurance does not cover breed-specific hereditary disorders, behavior disorders and cosmetic surgery.
Read the policy before purchasing to understand exclusions and coverage limits. As with health insurance for people, veterinary insurance includes a deductible.
Look for a pet insurance company that has a solid financial rating and a good customer service record. Ask your vet for recommendations.
Meanwhile, some car insurance companies include coverage for pets that are injured in car accidents. Progressive was the first auto insurer to build the coverage into its collision insurance, and other insurers, including Chubb Group of Insurance Cos. and Arbella Mutual Insurance, a regional insurer in Quincy, Mass., have added the option in some states.
Car insurance policies that include coverage for pets pay for treatment only of injuries that stem from car accidents. For broader health coverage, you need a pet health insurance policy from a company specializing in insuring animals.
For more, see "Pet insurance ABC's."
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