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Consumer Watch: Is pet insurance worth your money?

Consumer Watch: Mireya Garcia and two puppies.

Owning a dog or a cat can be adorable, but it is also a lifelong financial commitment, and pet insurance could be a way to protect your finances in the event of a pet health crisis. However, there are some important facts to consider before deciding if purchasing pet health insurance will be a benefit to you.

People and pet health insurance have something very important in common, that they are very complicated. Many vets and even the Humane Society of Central Oklahoma say it is a good option to ensure your pet can get care in an emergency, especially since animal care in general can get expensive.

"Just the basics-- food, vet care, and then if you travel you've got pet sitting or boarding expenses, so we always encourage people to be really thoughtful about being ready for that commitment," says Susanna Della Maddalena, former President and CEO Humane Society of Central Oklahoma

Like with humans, there are some things that are not covered in pet insurance. For instance, if the breed of the animal has a history of problems, that may not be covered, so when deciding on coverage, look at what you are paying for, and don't go off of price alone.

"I think with any insurance you need to understand what you are getting, and what they are covering because a lot of times people don't really read the policy," says Della Maddalena

Some pet owners are often disappointed to find that it is normal to pay the vet upfront, and then file your claim. The insurance company would reimburse you for the covered costs. It can be overwhelming to have to keep a large amount of money on hand. Surgeries and special treatments can often quickly turn into 5,000 or 10,000 dollar expenses.

Pet insurance rates tend to vary especially depending on age, so sometimes it is important to decide quickly after you get a pet whether or not it is right for you.

Some people opt to just create a pet savings account for possible health emergencies. That way you won't have to pay a monthly fee. For a chance at getting your money back, you could do both the pet savings account, and pay something like 20 dollars a month for the pet health insurance.

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