Put simply: healthcare can be complicated. And it’s no different when it applies to your pet. Taking good care of your furry friend involves regular vet checkups, preventative care, and occasionally, emergency assistance. So for some pet parents, healthcare costs (especially the unforeseen ones) can be a concern.
If that’s the case, pet insurance may be a good option for you. Maybe you’ve already heard about pet insurance but might not know the full details? We’re here to simplify what pet insurance entails—what it is, what it covers, and how it works—to help you decide if it’s right for you and your pet.
What is it?
Generally speaking, pet insurance helps alleviate the cost of veterinary bills for your pet by reimbursing you for their treatment. Some plans cover basic primary care needs while others may also include accident coverage, cancer treatments, and hereditary issues. Not all plans are the same, and it’s essential that you thoroughly research both companies and the specific plans they offer to determine what your pet’s deductibles, and your potential costs, may be.
How does it work?
On the face of things, pet insurance is similar to human health insurance, minus the specific enrollment period. After researching and selecting a plan, you can enroll your pet, pay monthly premiums, and expect to receive coverage. But this is where all the nuances start. Not all pets qualify for health insurance; some companies may exclude elderly animals or those with pre-existing conditions (sometimes it’s even breed-specific).
Additionally, you may have to deal with a waiting period before coverage for your pet starts. Companies handle waiting periods differently: if your pet becomes ill or injured during the waiting period, their health expenses may not be covered by your policy. To make things more complicated, there may be separate waiting periods under your single policy for illness versus injury. It’s important to be aware of when your policy coverage starts and ends so you have the correct information if you need to make a claim.
What should I look for?
Likely the most important factor when deciding between insurance policy is coverage. This means both what is covered for your pet, as well as what’s excluded. Inquire about routine treatments like annual checkups, prescription medications, diagnostic tests, and dental coverage, in addition to less anticipated needs, such as cancer screening, hospital stays, surgeries, congenital illness, and more. You’ll also want to check that your pet can continue to see their existing vet under the plan’s network. Each plan varies, but common exclusions are pre-existing conditions and hereditary illnesses.
It’s also important to note claim submission timelines to ensure that you’re filing correctly and getting the coverage you’ve paid for. As a general rule, you can expect that more coverage means higher premiums and a varying deductible.
We thought you might ask that. Pet Insurance review has a handy comparison chart of the top-rated pet insurance plans for 2019 to help get you started.
So…should I get it?
The answer varies, since it really depends on your pet. If you think pet insurance doesn’t meet your pet’s needs, you may opt for a pet health discount plan instead. The latter typically involves an annual fee for discounted vet services, versus a comprehensive insurance plan.
Ultimately, what you get out of pet insurance depends on how much your pet uses it as well as the number and types of claims you make, which is hard to predict. The bottom line is that plans only have value if you use them. If you’re still on the fence, do some research and contact your trusted vet. You can discuss your pet’s past and present health records together and get expert advice on whether pet insurance is right for you both.