In January 2013, Autism Dog Services estimated the average expenses for normal, on-going costs for a service dog were approximately $1,000 to 1,500 a year. If the dog is injured or stricken by an illness or, heaven forbid, bites a neighbor, the figure can soar. The good news is a service dog is covered by the same insurance available to any pet.
Flexible Spending Insurance
Standard medical insurance policies rarely, if ever, cover service dogs. However, since service dogs provide medical assistance, some flexible spending health care accounts let employees use pre-tax dollars pay for qualified medical costs.
Veterans prescribed service dogs can use a separate insurance policy from the Veteran's Administration that includes specific coverage for the animal. The VA only covers dogs certified by either Assistance Dogs International (ADI) or the International Guide Dog Foundation (IGDF).
Private Pet Health Insurance
Some service dogs may not be covered, or fully covered, by the owner's health insurance policy. In this situation, the owner can buy independent pet insurance to cover unforeseen medical expenses. While there are no special considerations for service animals, it can cover common injuries like dental work, a broken bone or torn ligaments. The coverage can also include general canine liability, though some policies will exclude certain breeds.
While taxes aren't actually insurance, they can make a big difference it how much money stays in an owner's pocket. If medical expenses, including service animal costs, total more than 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income, the Internal Revenue Service will recognize them as a legitimate deduction. Eligible expenses include the costs of buying, training, and maintaining a service dog.
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