Munich – Many horse owners already know it: animal health insurance. After all, an operation on a horse can quickly cost thousands of dollars. But owners of dogs, cats or other pets should also devote themselves to the topic and think about protecting their four-legged friend. « In the past few months, we have been asked more and more frequently by customers whether animal health insurance is worthwhile, » says Dr. Christine Nees, veterinarian at the AniCura Small Animal Medical Center Weingarten. The facility is one of 43 AniCura veterinary clinics and veterinary practices in Germany and 350 locations in Europe. “From our point of view, animal health insurance always makes sense. Here in our small animal center we see every day that accidents and unforeseen illnesses just happen – in these cases, insurance offers protection against high treatment costs, ”says Dr. Nees continue. When choosing animal health insurance, however, it is worth taking a closer look and comparing it in order to select the right tariff and avoid unnecessarily high contribution costs.
If you have a healthy animal at home, you often see no reason for additional protection. But the statistics speak a different language: According to the WDR, a medium-sized dog can be expected to have around five operations in a lifetime – routine operations such as dental treatment not included. Many animal health insurances also cover these routine interventions, many preventive examinations and vaccinations. Outpatient and inpatient treatments before and after an operation are often also covered. On the other hand, pure surgical insurance for dogs, cats and pets often does not cover these treatments and is therefore not sufficient in many cases of illness. “Preventive medical checkups can prevent many diseases later in life. We therefore recommend that you insure the animal as young as possible, ”says Dr. Nees, « Also because older animals or animals with previous illnesses are only accepted by insurance companies at a very high premium or not at all. »
Animal health insurance: Compare tariffs before choosing
The contribution rate is often much lower for chipped and young animals. Even then, you have to reckon with several hundred euros per year for the insurance, but these costs are often significantly lower than the costs of the treatments covered. A dog insurance with full protection costs around 40 euros a month, the same applies to cats. A rabbit can be insured from around 15 euros a month. In order for the contributions paid to pay off, it is advisable to pay particular attention to the following points when choosing animal health insurance:
- Free choice of veterinarian
- Taking over preventive measures such as vaccinations and health checks
- Takeover of operations including inpatient and outpatient pre- and post-operative care (blood tests, X-rays, CT / MRT before an operation, physiotherapy, etc.)
- Reimbursement of costs at least up to 3 or 4 times the rate of the fee schedule for veterinarians (GOT) – this also covers treatments by specialists and in the emergency service
- No or low deductible and unlimited coverage of veterinary costs
- If you regularly travel with an animal: appropriate protection abroad
« It is also important that the reasons for exclusion, for example previous illnesses, hereditary diseases or chronic illnesses, are presented transparently and clearly, » says Dr. Nees, “You’d better ask again here. In addition, good animal health insurance usually does not require any expert reports. The submission of invoices should be as simple as possible and payment should be prompt. «
Don’t worry about costs: always receive the best possible treatment
Animal health insurance makes sense, especially with a healthy animal. « Of course, every animal owner should put something aside every month just in case – these reserves are quickly used up or not sufficient, for example in the event of an emergency operation, » says Dr. Nees from experience. However, if the insurance company covers the costs, the owner does not have to forego the best possible treatment in the worst case – entirely for the benefit of the animal and not for the benefit of the wallet. It doesn’t even have to be an accident or an emergency operation. Even with signs of aging such as osteoarthritis or thyroid diseases, the treatment costs can eat up the savings an animal owner can save with the best possible care for the four-legged friend. These costs, which often rise again in old age, are also covered by insurance.
Despite running costs, pet owners and their four-legged friends benefit from the insurance for a lifetime. Of course, what applies to all types of insurance also applies to animal health insurance: Compare critically, pay attention to the services offered and – especially – also to what is not included.