Insurance… For The Dogs?

By Ruth Parsons

Fur-babies are all the rage these days, whether you have and adore them, or you simply despise the whole child-animal comparison. Either way, all things pets are everywhere: specialty treats, fancy clothes, or one of the vast assortment of toys available. Just as you can find all kinds of goodies for your beloved pet, you can also find a variety of insurance products for your furry BFF. If you’d drop big bucks for a lavish pet bed, or designer duds, why not protect something as important as their health, as well? All pet owners know the cost of veterinary care can be outrageous, but many don’t realize they can better manage their pet’s health expenses, both regular and unexpected, using pet insurance. This is exactly why pet insurance, as we know it today, is so popular.
Here’s a little history about pet insurance. According to the National Pet Health Insurance Association’s website (NAPHIA,, pet insurance began around 1890 for the primary purpose of insuring horses and livestock, but has since evolved to include protection for our household pets. In 1924, the first dog was insured in Sweden. In 1982, world famous movie star Lassie was first insured in the United States. Standards were introduced by NAPHIA in 2007 to establish universal and professional standards for terminology, best practices, quality and ethics in the pet health insurance industry.
Pet Insurance coverages can still vary amongst different carriers, depending on what you specifically desire to protect against. As an overview, there are generally three types of pet coverage. The first is pet wellness, which provides coverage for regular check-up types of visits such as annual vaccinations, heartworm prevention, and dental care. The next is major medical protection for your pet, which covers previously undiagnosed medical emergencies, such as emergency surgery, and even some cancer treatment (if coverage is purchased). The third option is generally a combination of both of the previous two, merging wellness protection and major medical benefits to provide the broadest coverage for accidents, illnesses, and overall wellness.
Of course, there are things which pet insurance was not designed to cover such as taxes, waste, grooming, boarding and pre-existing conditions. Considering how extensive some of the coverages offered can be, including hereditary diseases and cancer, it’s very important to get your pet insured sooner rather than later. While guidelines can vary, it’s usually best to do so before age 10 and definitely before any conditions develop which could later be considered pre-existing.
Pet care itself is left to the discretion of you and your veterinary professional. There is no interference by the pet insurance carrier regarding what treatments are appropriate for your pet, or for the situation. As a result, coverage is usually offered in a reimbursement format of either a set percentage of all covered items, or based on a set fee table for each covered item. This allows for prompt treatment of your pet, while keeping your budget intact.
Pet insurance rates are also very reasonable. My fur-baby, Sgt. Pepper, is protected with the third option, covering both major medical and wellness, and the premium falls below $48 each month. My particular plan is a reimbursement percentage plan, so I get back 90 percent of all my vet bills from heartworm prevention to hereditary conditions. Deductibles do apply. Of course, pet insurance varies depending on the animal insured and coverages selected, but you can see coverage is relatively inexpensive. I hope you and your furry, (or reptilian/avian/or otherwise exotic) BFF, learned a little something new and helpful!
1 North American Pet Health Insurance Association. History of Pet Health Insurance. 01 July 2016.


Ruth Parsons is the owner and Principal Agent of a family run Nationwide Insurance agency located in Athens, GA. Ruth is married to Michael and has a fur-baby of her very own, Sgt. Pepper.  Sgt. Pepper accompanies her to work daily. Throughout her 35-year insurance career, Ruth has assisted clients in making informed choices about the insurance products which best satisfy their particular needs.  Visit for more information, or call her office at (706) 548-9942.