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Why you should get pet insurance before your pet gets sick

Whatever your pet's age, the best time to get pet insurance is now. Getty Images/iStockphoto

For many pet owners, there's nothing they wouldn't do to keep their furry friends happy and healthy. Our pets bring us joy, comfort and companionship. Unfortunately, they also come with significant expenses, one of the biggest of which can be medical care.

The average pet owner pays $410 in medical costs for a dog and $300 for a cat, according to the ASPCA. And that's just for routine care like checkups and preventative medicine. If your pet is sick or injured, costs can easily run into the thousands.

One way to help defray these costs is with pet insurance. Depending on the type of policy you choose, it could reimburse you for up to 90% of your pet's medical costs. But to get the full benefit of pet insurance, you should buy it as soon as possible. If you wait until your pet gets sick, their treatment might not be covered, leaving you with some costly and potentially gut-wrenching decisions.

To find out how much coverage you could get, get a free price quote here.

Why you should get pet insurance before your pet gets sick

Don't assume you can do without pet insurance if your pet is young or healthy. Here are three big reasons to buy coverage before your pet gets ill.

Pre-existing conditions usually aren't covered

Most pet insurance policies don't cover pre-existing conditions, such as hip dysplasia or heart disease. If your pet develops these conditions before you apply for a policy, you'll be 100% responsible for treatment costs.

"A pre-existing condition is any injury or illness which occurs or shows symptoms before coverage starts or during a waiting period," says Spot pet insurance. "A condition is considered pre-existing whether or not it's been officially diagnosed or treated; all that matters is when it occurred or symptoms first displayed."

Pre-existing conditions can be extremely costly to treat over the course of your pet's life. For example, CareCredit reports hip dysplasia surgery for dogs costs an average of $1,700 to over $4,500. Therefore, it's essential to secure coverage for your pet now, even if they seem healthy.

Begin exploring your pet insurance options by checking prices here.

Most policies have waiting periods

Pet insurance policies typically have waiting periods between the time you apply and the time coverage takes effect. Any medical expenses your pet incurs during that period will not be covered.

Waiting periods could be as short as a couple of weeks and as long as several months, depending on the policy and medical issue. But no matter the length, your pet could get sick or injured anytime. The sooner you purchase pet insurance, the more likely they are to be covered if something happens.

It saves you stress and heartbreak

When your pet is ill or injured, you want to get them the best care possible as soon as possible. You shouldn't have to worry about how you'll afford that care or if you'll need to forgo treatment because the cost is simply too much.

"If an emergency arises and treatment/surgery is required, it can reach into the thousands of dollars to resolve the situation. Many families may not have these kinds of resources available and may have to make the very painful decision to euthanize their beloved pet," Dr. Sandra Norman, staff veterinarian at Noah's Animal Hospitals in Indiana, previously told CBS News.

Don't add cost concerns to an already trying time. Get a free quote now to find the right policy for you.

The bottom line

Whatever your pet's age, the best time to get pet insurance is now. And there are plenty of ways to save on pet insurance, including taking advantage of discounts. Do your pet (and your wallet!) a favor and start looking into pet insurance today.

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