Tips about buying insurance for your cat

To insure or not to insure?Credit: Photo by Jane Gates

The cost of veterinary care is rising as fast as medical bills are for people and if your cat becomes ill, or is injured in an accident, costs can become burdensome -- especially in a less generous economy. One way to protect yourself from unexpected financial demands is to invest in cat insurance. Insurance is available for pets just like it is for people. But since cats are given much less in the way of regular preventative medicine and testing, it's probably more of a gamble whether or not you'll actually need it. Many feliness go through healthy lives with no major medical expenses. Others can become an expensive project due to an unforseen accident or a costly illness. Usually, it's just a question of economics and peace of mind whether or not you want to buy cat insurance.

Just like shopping for your own medical insurance you will do well to comparison shop. Rates will depend on the coverage you want and the age of your cat. Most companies do not require an examination of your pet, but most will not cover pre-existing conditions and some won't insure a cat with hereditary or congenital disorders. Some also do not cover chronic conditions.

Unless you are new to an area and have no veterinary preference, you may prefer a  pet insurance company that allows you to go to any doctor; others may have a list of their own selected veterinarians.

Prices and plans vary widely. Choose deductables and co-pays that fit your budget. Deductables can range from $50 to $500 whereas co-pays average 10% - 30%.

Talk to a representative directly for any plans you are considering. Ask about the company's policies and the procedures that will be required for making claims. And don't be afraid to ask for clarification on any points you aren't sure about. Talking with a real person may help you get a better feel for the company.

Expect to find a wide variety of form, format and financial commitment with different plans. Some plans have annual or lifetime caps after which you are responsible for all payments. Some expect partial or percentage contributions after the cap has been reached. The most expensive plans will have no cap at all. There are a lot of choices for you and your cat, so tailor the plan you want to your personal needs and budget.

In other words, there are a lot of variables in buying cat insurance. Shop around and get informed. Read the fine print. Then, if you feel buying health insurance for your feline is the right step for you, you can make the best decision based on real knowledge rather than guesswork.