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Look Out for Pet Health Insurance

Owning a pet often means having to make painful decisions, such as, "Do I spend another $1,000 to get Fido treated, or will I have to say goodbye to a loyal friend?"

Fortunately, if you snag a job with Home Depot (NYSE: HD  ) or Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) , your employee benefits may include pet health insurance. Those with pets know that pet care has become rather costly these days. Many expensive procedures, such as MRIs, are performed on pets that weren't commonly done in the past.

You'd probably be surprised at how many companies actually offer this insurance to employees. Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA  ) , Del Monte Foods (NYSE: DLM  ) , and Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S  ) all have pet insurance offerings.

This kind of insurance won't cover all your expenses, but it can help. (The plan pricing and the ultimate value will depend on the type of pet you have, its age, and its health. Some breeds, older pets, and pets with chronic or terminal illnesses are usually not approved for coverage.) Pet insurance premiums are fairly reasonable, typically costing several hundred dollars per year. They can increase as much as 50% as your pet ages (usually after nine years of age for dogs and 11 years for cats). The coverage isn't always worth it, especially with healthier breeds of animals -- but it can be a significant help for many pet owners.

Here's a bit of bad news, though: When companies offer this benefit, they typically don't actually pay for it -- the employee does. Still, employees will generally get a 5% to 10% discount on the cost, which can add up over the years.

If your employer doesn't offer pet insurance, ask for it. In the meantime, check out insurers such as Veterinary Pet Insurance, PetCare, Pets Best, and PetHealth (NYSE: PTZ  ) .

Keep learning
Learn more about the not always exciting, but still critically important, topic of insurance in our Insurance Center. You may not have thought about some kinds of insurance, such as disability or long-term care insurance, but they're vital for many people. And, of course, properly insuring your property is vital, too. Take time to learn more -- you may be very happy you did.

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10/24/2016 4:00 PM
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