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Insurance can be a tough sell at the best of times. When you bring a new pet home, the last thing people think about is insurance for the newest member of their family. Many don’t know about it – but many people also don’t factor into their financial plan how expensive veterinary care can be without it.

Insurance is for the “what if” scenario that you can’t really plan for. An illness or accident can happen in the blink of an eye. Sadly, it isn’t uncommon for a seemingly healthy pet to receive a cancer diagnosis that can cost in excess of $10,000.

There are hundreds of pet insurance providers and the costs can vary. Insurance for pets is no different from home or auto insurance – and like anything else, there are costs and benefits to weigh. However, the underlying fact is, buying insurance can safeguard both your pet and your wallet.

Before you decide what type of pet coverage you require, consider the following:

Cost: Be very clear on what is covered and what is not. Will there be a deductible and how high are you willing to take it? How will existing conditions be handled and what will be excluded from coverage? Take the time to do a cost/benefit analysis. If you have the discipline to save money for potential vet costs down the road, you will likely be fine. However, most pet owners don’t, and deal with a situation as it happens.

Caps and payouts: Are there limits that will be put into place over the lifetime of your pet?

Reimbursement: Read the fine print to know how and when your costs will be reimbursed.

The relationship you have with your vet and how your pet is cared for matters. The follow-up service and the experience as a whole has to be managed by you.

The bottom line is, having insurance for your pets might help you cover unforeseen medical costs and make a decision down the road a little less heart-wrenching.