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Pet Insurance Reform Bill Passes in California

Fido and FiFi could also find greater protections under a California bill.
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) -- Healthcare reform isn't just for humans.

Pets could find greater health care protections than their masters under a pet insurance bill that was approved by the California State Assembly in a 42-22 vote on Tuesday.

The bill -- now under review by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger -- requires that insurance companies with verterinary care plans disclose more information about the limits of coverage.

The law would require insurance companies to provide information about co-pays, lifetime benefit limits and restrictions based on pre-existing conditions on websites. Democratic Assemblyman Dave Jones is pushing the bill, AB2411, forward.

"It's terrible to realize that the pet insurance premiums you have paid for years do not cover the full cost of veterinary care," Jones said. "This bill provides transparency so that consumers can be fully informed of the exact terms of coverage, as well as any exclusions or limitations."

Jones was inspired to move forward with the legislation after hearing concerns from consumers about the reimbursements they were recieving for veterinary care under insurance plans.

The bill could would change the practices of several big name insurers, such as


, which underwites VPI Pet Insurance. Also in the mix are


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Fireman's Fund

, which underwrites ASPCA Pet Insurance; and



, which underwrites Pets Best Insurance.

"It is good for the industry. That bill is really designed to give consumers clear, upfront transparency of what their plan will pay precisely. We really need to have a positive name with the consumer," says Chris Middleton, marketing director at PetsBest Pet Insurance.

The pet insurance business started in 1982 and this would be one of the first laws attempting to regulate the growing industry.


Written by Maria Woehr in New York