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Gift dilemma? Don't know what to get someone who has everything?

The holidays can be stressful for those of us who have hard-to-shop-for relatives. Books, neckties, kitchen gadgets, socks, movie tickets, fruit baskets and gift cards -- it has all been done before, sometimes many times before. We came across something the other day that could be perfect for a certain sub-category of the hard-to-shop-fors: pet insurance.

It seems that pet insurance is growing in popularity in the U.S., though not matching the rate of growth abroad. Still, as pets more and more take on the role of family member, the industry is expanding. In fact, the North American Pet Health Insurance Association's recently released "State of the Industry Benchmarking Report" stated that the number of policies in force jumped a whopping 14.6 percent from 2012 to 2013.

Those results are nothing new. The number of policies has increased by 13 percent every year since 2009. Personal health and accident insurance policies averaged a 3.5 percent increase annually.

Typically, pet owners who buy the coverage are childless couples or singles who live alone. Add in some disposable income, and you have a well-insured pet. Those owners are willing to give their pets the same level of care that they have themselves, and that care does not come cheap. Anyone who has experienced a pet health emergency knows the shock of the vet bill. Without insurance, pet owners are on the hook for the costs of care immediately.

The policies work pretty much the way human health policies. Owners can purchase coverage for injuries or for illness and injuries. There are companies that even offer coverage for complementary treatments -- Reiki, for example. A company in the United Kingdom provides a death benefit, too.

We'll wrap this up (pardon the pun) in our next post.

Source: Carrier Management, "Pet Insurance Sales Soar Past Accident & Health Cover," Katia Dmitrieva, Nov. 18, 2014 

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