The last decade has seen pet insurance becoming affordable and available, and suddenly pet consumers have become inundated with a vast array of pet insurance choices.

Any pet insurance policy should take into account your lifestyle, budget and your pet's health. While many people buy pet insurance for unforeseeable events such as accidents and serious illness, others buy them to cover basics like annual shots and preventative measures.

Before even looking at the different plans make a list of what your pet needs, then try and match them with a couple of different insurers to get the best monthly price.

Your list of needs, should be specific and include any medication your pet currently takes, any health problems, and any previous problems that may resurface with age. Never lie about medical conditions, or you may find your pet insurance carrier refuses to cover expenses at a later date.

If your pet has been neutered and micro chipped you will find that the cost of any pet insurance policy should dramatically decrease. If a pet insurance policy you are interested in doesn't mention this, make sure you ask if you get a discount and haggle for an appropriate one.

Policies also cost less for indoor cats as they are less likely to contract parasites such as heartworms and ringworms, and to develop contagious skin conditions. If the carrier you are interested in doesn't mention these ask, you may find you get a deep discount.

Most carriers offer at least three different policies and some carriers will customize a policy that suits your pets, while other companies offer only two less comprehensive policies. All pet insurance policies should include four things; dental coverage, accident coverage, illness coverage, (including pre-existing conditions) and specialty coverage for such things as pet medical devices, and homeopathic medical treatment.

After you have determined that your pet insurer covers the basics, investigate the possibility of buying some additional insurance. Often referred to as secondary insurance, this type of pet insurance covers such things as kennel fees if you become ill and unable to care for your pet, and cremation or burial insurance for when your pet passes away. Do haggle over the cost of extras; many pet insurers will bend a little, especially if you are able to pay six months or a year's insurance at a time.

When you sign up for a policy read the fine print, ask when and if a policy fees may be increased, and watch the deductibles. Some policies offer very cheap pet insurance while operating on a very high deductible, often as high as $500. This is absolutely no use to you if your pet becomes ill and you are short of cash; instead opt for slightly higher monthly payments and a low deductible.

It may well save the life of your pet in the event they need life saving surgery or have an unforeseen accident.