The following article has been provided courtesy of Petplan pet insurance, who is also offering an exclusive 10% discount on policies to Adopt-a-Pet.com supporters. To learn more visit Petplan.


Pets are increasingly part of the household (they are certainly the easiest to get along with!), and like the rest of our family, they need health protection for when unexpected illnesses and injuries happen.

Pet insurance offers protection against a major financial loss when your pet needs unforeseen veterinary care. Much like car insurance, pet insurance reimburses you for expenses related to treating your furry friend at the vet when he’s sick or injured. Also like car insurance, you can’t make a claim on incidents that happened before you had coverage—so it’s best to secure a policy as soon as you get your pet.


It sounds simple enough, but the details of coverage, as well as the rate of reimbursement, can vary from provider to provider. Here’s what to look for to ensure you’re getting the most value from a policy:


1. Comprehensive coverage in their basic plan.

Most providers have different plan levels and options that allow for some flexibility in the premium you pay, but you should expect the actual coverage to remain the same across all plans. You shouldn’t see options to purchase things like hip dysplasia riders, alternative or specialist treatment add-ons or additional coverage for chronic diseases—those should be included as standard in every plan. A good value plan will include comprehensive coverage at all levels, with the only variables being the deductible and amount of co-pay/rate of reimbursement you choose, or the maximum annual coverage allowance.


2. Reimbursement of actual veterinary fees.

Some providers reimburse policyholders based on a benefit schedule. Beware of this type of plan—you may find that you quickly max out per-incident and per-illness caps. Say your dog has an ear infection that costs $600 to treat, but coverage for an ear infection is limited to a $325 maximum payout. You’d be paying the difference out of pocket. Look for a provider that reimburses what your vet charges for services minus your chosen deductible and/or co-pay. It’s a better buy in the end—especially if your dog winds up with one very expensive condition.


3. A solid record of customer satisfaction.

You can research providers on independent review sites like PetInsuranceReview.com or Yelp. Look at more than just the rating score—after all, it’s easy to score high when only a few people have reviewed your product. Find a company with a lot of positive reviews over a number of years to ensure you’re picking a provider with a proven track record.


Is pet insurance really necessary? The answer is YES. Even the most devoted pet parent can’t always protect their pet from inherited disease, illness or injury. Pet insurance takes the worry out of paying for your pet’s medical care—which these days can cost almost as much as our own. When you’re standing in your veterinarian’s office with a $3,000 estimate in your hand, having pet insurance can mean the difference between getting your pet the care he deserves and seeking a less expensive (and usually less effective) option. With the right plan in place, both your four-legged family member and your finances will be protected.


Adopt-a-Pet.com and Petplan believe pet insurance is important for all furry friends. To give you a leg up on getting a policy, Petplan is offering a 10% online discount to Adopt-a-Pet.com fans.