Pet Insurance Laws

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 What Are Health Insurance Plans?

A health insurance plan is a type of insurance coverage that covers an insured policyholder from paying certain specific medical or surgical expenses. Health insurance plans may be necessary as out-of-pocket expenses required for medical emergencies can be substantial.

A health insurance plan completely covers or pays a part of the cost of medical emergency, which may be associated with:

  • Dental;
  • Vision; or
  • Other medical necessities.

These types of costs may be paid in one of two ways, including:

  • The insured individual pays up front, out-of-pocket, and is then reimbursed for the cost; or
  • The insurance company pays the policyholder’s provider directly.

When an individual purchases health insurance coverage, they are required to pay the insurance company premiums, typically monthly, in exchange for the insurance company paying their medical bills. Because of this, the cost of insurance premiums may vary depending on the individual coverage plan.

There are companies that now offer similar types of insurance that individuals may purchase for their pets, called pet insurance.

What Is Pet Insurance?

Pet insurance can be purchased to provide coverage for medical expenses for domestic pets. Pet insurances may be purchased through a veterinarian or other company.

Similar to humans, a well-loved pet may require expensive medical care in the event of a serious health problem or accident. There are some policies that only cover accident-related injuries and other policies that cover accident and illness care.

The cost of pet insurance will vary depending on several factors, including, but not limited to:

  • The pet’s age;
  • Their health profile; and
  • The level of care chosen.

If an individual has any issues, questions, or concerns related to purchasing pet insurance for their animal, they can consult with a pet insurance lawyer. A lawyer can help explain the details of a policy so an individual can determine the best fit for their needs and budget.

What Kinds of Animals Might Be Covered by Pet Insurance?

Pet insurance may be available for many types of pets, including:

  • Dogs;
  • Cats;
  • Rabbits;
  • Ferrets;
  • Exotic birds;
  • Reptiles;
  • Potbelly pigs; and
  • Various rodents.

Typically, dogs and cats are the most commonly covered animals. However, some companies offer coverage for other types of animals, including exotic animals.

It is important to note that certain companies may not cover pets past a certain age. In addition, if they do, the cost will likely be higher for older pets.

How Do I Make a Claim under My Pet Insurance?

The process for making a claim under pet insurance may vary depending on where the insurance was purchased. An individual may be required to make an insurance claim through their veterinarian.

The policy and plan description should contain information regarding the steps to take to make a claim.

Is There Liability Insurance for Dogs?

In addition to purchasing health insurance for a pet, some individuals may consider liability insurance for their pet as well. However, a separate insurance for a dog is not generally necessary.

This is because, in many situations, liability related to dogs and other pets may be covered by an individual’s homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance policy. Both of these categories of insurance typically cover both sides of a case or issue.

For example, in a dog bite case, the victim’s insurance company generally protects the victim and the dog owner’s policy will typically cover the dog owner. There are, however, specific situations in which an individual may consider obtaining a different type of insurance for their dog or other type of pet.

Dog-related damage or injury claims are one of the most common causes of homeowner’s insurance claims. A pet owner may consider animal liability coverage to be essential due to the fact that most insurance companies:

  • Limit dog bite insurance coverage;
  • Restrict certain breeds from coverage; or
  • Exclude animal liability coverage altogether.

In addition, the majority of housing communities, for example, apartments and condos, have provisions regarding how a resident is expected to maintain and insure their dog.

Any breed of dog may potentially cause some injuries or damages, however, a dog that is considerably bigger or who has an unfriendly temperament may be more likely to lead to liability. It is especially important to have coverage if a dog has a history or aggressive behavior.

In addition, many insurance companies will not provide coverage for dogs on their dangerous breed list. Although the breeds on this type of list may vary by insurance company and are considerably subjective, the dog breeds commonly found on these types of lists include:

  • Pit Bulls;
  • Akitas;
  • Presa Canarios; and
  • Bull Terriers.

If a dog has an incident involving aggression, they may be placed in quarantine by the local animal control. In order for an individual to bring their dog home from quarantine, they will be required to meet certain specific conditions.

Examples of common requirements for an individual to bring their dog home from quarantine include:

  • $100,000 of liability coverage;
  • The wording “Dangerous Dog;” and
  • Animal Control listed as an additional insured on the individual’s coverage.

What Is Dog Liability Insurance for Renters?

As noted above, there are companies that offer canine liability coverage. This may be necessary when homeowner’s or renter’s insurance does not provide adequate protections for pet-related liability.

If an individual’s policy does not cover accidents that are caused by dogs, they may also obtain an umbrella policy that fills in the coverage gaps.

When considering an umbrella policy, however, an individual should confirm that they provide coverage for accidents caused by a dog. If an individual’s homeowner’s or renter’s insurance does cover accidents caused by dogs, but the liability coverage is not what they would consider to be adequate, they can obtain an umbrella policy or an excess policy.

If the umbrella policy does not provide adequate coverage, the individual can supplement this coverage with an excess policy. If an individual rents, they can obtain a renter’s insurance for their personal property, which might cover pet-related liability.

However, because some policies do not, it is important for an individual to check with their insurance agent for more information regarding the details of their policy. Another factor an individual should consider is their landlord as well as the insurance policy that the landlord maintains on the property.

A landlord will generally be reluctant to rent to individuals solely based on the size or breed of a particular pet that they own. If this occurs, the potential renter can ask the landlord whether a letter from a veterinarian or a written assessment from a particular trainer stating that their pet is friendly would be sufficient.

The Federation of Insured Dog Owners (F.I.D.O.) is an organization that was launched to offer Covered Canine Liability Insurance Policies for any breed of dog. FIDO intends to provide affordable liability coverage for pet owners.

FIDO’s prices start as low as $75 per year per dog in addition to an annual membership fee to the organization. The policies that are offered by FIDO are available throughout the country and for any breed of dog.

Do I Need an Attorney if I Have a Pet Insurance Dispute?

You can easily obtain pet insurance from a company or your veterinarian without the help of a lawyer. The majority of insurance companies only require you to complete a form about your pet and pay the required insurance premiums.

If you have obtained a policy and you are having an issue or dispute with the company, it may be helpful to consult with an insurance lawyer. For example, if the company is refusing to pay for a qualified medical procedure, you may have a bad faith claim and need a lawyer’s assistance.

Your lawyer can review the facts of the case, help you try and get the insurance company to cooperate, and determine if a lawsuit is necessary.

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