According to data from Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) posted on, the 10 most common claims last year were for relatively minor ailments–eye, ear, and skin infections; benign tumors; and digestive and urinary-tract ailments–and a handful of more serious problems. Costs for most of those averaged $100 to $200, but the highest bills for every type of illness ran from $600 to $4,400.

We all know that human health care costs are in the stratosphere, and without health insurance, there would be many more bankruptcies because of unaffordable hospital and doctor bills as well as other related costs than there are now (which is a lot).  While not as crushing as some human medical bills can be, veterinary care can be expensive. Many pet owners turn to pet insurance.

Just as with human health insurance, you need to begin by asking some questions. Are there different deductibles? How about any co-pays? Does the coverage max out at any point? Do I pay up front and get reimbursed or does the vet bill the insurance company directly? Do I have to use a veterinarian in a network, or can I use any veterinarian?

Also, some animals have certain hereditary conditions and can be more susceptible to particular ailments. Will treatments associated with that be covered?  Many policies won’t pay for elective procedures. Ask if the policy has renewable benefits — if your pet receives treatment for a covered condition during the policy term, some companies will consider it a pre-existing condition when the policy renews and will not cover the condition in the renewal policy.

While there are numerous websites that can walk you through different pet insurance companies and policies, your best resource is your local insurance professional. Whether you have a new puppy or an old friend, be sure you get all the facts.