Adopting a Puppy? Keep This One Thing in Mind When Buying Pet Insurance

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  • It's important to buy pet insurance, no matter the age of your pet.
  • If you're getting a puppy, there's one detail you'll really want to pay attention to.

Puppies are a lot of work. But that's not the only thing you need to know.

When my family set out to adopt a dog a couple of years ago, I was pretty adamant from the start that I didn't want a puppy. It's not that puppies aren't unbelievably cute. It's that they require a lot of work and a lot of patience. And after having potty-trained three children, I wasn't really up to the task of repeating the process with the dog.

Plus, when you adopt a puppy, you can't really be sure what type of dog you're getting. It can easily take a year or more for a dog's full personality to develop, and with young kids in the mix, I wanted to focus on welcoming a slightly older dog.

Still, I know plenty of people who would love nothing more than to adopt a puppy. And if you're one of them, there's nothing wrong with that provided you're aware of and committed to the work involved.

But if you're going to adopt a puppy, it's important to be really careful about the pet insurance policy you buy. Making the wrong choice could leave you on the hook for costly pet care bills down the line.

Pay attention to lifetime maximums

Pet insurance doesn't work the exact same way as human health insurance. And one big distinction is that pet insurance policies often impose lifetime coverage limits -- either general limits or limits as they relate to a specific condition. If you're bringing home a young dog, that's something you must be aware of, because you don't want to get stuck with a policy whose lifetime limit you max out fairly early on -- not for a dog who may end up being with you for 12, 13, 14 years or more.

You'll also want to look at the scope of coverage you're entitled to. Health issues can arise early on with dogs, but sometimes, they don't pop up until dogs get a little bit older and become full-grown. Larger breeds, for example, can have joint issues that arise due to having to support a giant body on small legs. That's the sort of issue that may not be obvious as a puppy, but comes to light later. So it's a good idea to buy pet insurance with a decent level of coverage on a whole.

Don't wait

You might assume you don't need pet insurance the moment you bring home a puppy. But you never know when a health issue might arise, so it's best to put that coverage in place right away.

Also, dogs of any age have the potential to get sick or injured. Your puppy could drink contaminated water on a walk and wind up with a parasite that requires treatment. And that's just one example. Rather than take chances with a new dog, make sure you're covered financially by getting pet insurance immediately.

At the same time, definitely pad your savings account before bringing a puppy into the mix. One other quirk about pet insurance is that you'll often have to pay for medical services for your animal yourself and then wait to get reimbursed. So it's important to have cash on hand to cover those costs until your insurer pays you back.

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