I’ve recently seen a lot of posts on social media asking for recommendations on pet insurance. Several options are available, and coverage varies depending on the policy selected. Some local clinics also offer their own types of wellness plans that have monthly payments and include general services throughout the year.

Pet insurance is similar to health insurance for people. In most cases, there is a monthly premium. Some policies cover wellness and office visits, and deductibles and specific criteria must be met before the benefits will cover an emergency or unplanned incident.

At a basic level, pet insurance pays a percentage of the bill if a dog or cat needs unexpected veterinary care. Most will cover surgeries, diagnostic tests, medicines, prescription foods, supplements, dental care and hospitalization. 

So, is pet health insurance really worth it, and how does one decide which policy is best?

The decision to get pet insurance is an individual one. The insurance can offer peace of mind and alleviate the financial burden in the event of an emergency — if a pet is hit by a car or has an injury requiring surgery, it could cost thousands of dollars. If those unexpected expenses would cause a serious financial burden, then pet insurance may be worth considering.

Before committing to a plan, get all the facts and read the fine print.

Several companies offer policies, and they have a variety of payment plans, deductibles, coverage limits and exclusions. Reading the fine print can help you make the best decision.

Some policies pay for only medical problems or accidents, while others will also pay for preventative care such as spay/neuters, vaccinations and heartworm preventative.

Some have a yearly coverage limit, and some may have a lifetime limit.

Ask around for reviews and recommendations and consult with your vet to see what their experience has been with the companies you're considering.

Know the policy’s terms and exclusions before making the purchase.

Also be sure to fully understand co-pays, deductibles and exclusions. Keep in mind that the amount and type of benefits chosen will affect the premium. And it is not uncommon for companies to require that the bill be paid up front and the insured amount reimbursed later.

Conditions and treatments not covered by individual policies vary. Pre-existing conditions are almost never covered, and certain conditions have a time limit between when the policy is purchased and when the coverage kicks in.


SATURDAY: Meet adoptable animals from the Louisiana SPCA from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Clearview Mall, 4436 Veterans Memorial Blvd, Metairie. Adoption counselors and volunteers will be on hand to help you select the perfect rescue pet. A bake sale will be held to benefit the Special Needs Fund. For more information about adoption visit la-spca.org/adopt.

SATURDAY: From 10 a.m. to noon, meet adoptable animals in foster care through the Louisiana SPCA at its adoption center. An SPCA placement team will be there to answer questions about fostering or the animals in foster care. To learn more, visit la-spca.org/foster.

SATURDAY: At Youth Service Day at the Louisiana SPCA, kids ages 7 to 12 can tour the shelter and work on an age-appropriate projects to help the animals. They'll also spend time with adoptable animals. Hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Registration is $25 and includes lunch and a Louisiana SPCA Animal Advocates T-shirt. To register, visit la-spca.org/youthserviceday.

SATURDAY: Animal Rescue New Orleans will be at Petco, 3520 Veterans Blvd. in Metairie, from noon to 4 p.m. with adoptable dogs and information on fostering, volunteering, and adopting. For more info: adopt@animalrescueneworleans.org.

LOST OR FOUND PETS: In Orleans Parish, send a photo, description of your pet, date lost/found and your contact info to lostandfound@la-spca.org. In Jefferson Parish, send to molsen@jeffparish.net and bbourgeois@jeffparish.net. In St. Bernard Parish, send to cluna@sbpg.net.

Traci D. Howerton is the volunteer coordinator and marketing director of Animal Rescue New Orleans, a nonprofit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. For topic suggestions, email animalrescuecolumn@gmail.com or for more info on ARNO, visit www.animalrescueneworleans.org.