Pet insurance is designed to cover some - but usually not all - of the costs of emergency and routine medical care for your pet.
It can help offset most or all of the costs of diagnosing, treating and managing your pet's illness or injury, and even routine check-ups.
If your pet is basically healthy and you're putting some money aside in an emergency "kitty," you may not need insurance at all.
If not, here's how to decide if pet insurance is right for you.
Insurance plans for pets aren't like our health insurance plans.
With pets, you pay the vet bills upfront and then submit a claim to the insurance company. You're then reimbursed for some or all of the costs of care (depending on your coverage plan).
Like all other types of insurance, unfortunately, you can expect a delay in reimbursement.
And like most human health insurance, insurance for animals requires deductibles, co-pays, or both.
How much you can expect to pay for insurance depends on the age of your pet, its breed, your postal code or zip code, and the type of policy.
There are three types of insurance coverage to choose from:
The most popular coverage is the mid-range, accident and illness coverage.
If you do decide to go with health insurance for your pets, look for coverage with simple, percentage-based payouts, and no judgment calls by the insurance company as to what's "reasonable."
Here are a few tips for finding the best insurance coverage for your pets:
If you have multiple pets, be sure to ask for a discount on your insurance premium.
For a list of the 10 best insurance companies that cover pets and additional information on insurance for your pets, visit ConsumersAdvocate.org or the American Veterinary Medical Association.