Pet insurance is a vital consideration for pet owners who want to reduce the burden of unexpected veterinary costs. Most people enroll in pet insurance within the first six months after getting a new pet, but it’s never too late (as long as your pet doesn’t have pre-existing conditions).
You can compare pet insurance companies and get a personalized recommendation using a free, independent resource like www.pawlicy.com (recommended by the American Animal Hospital Association). Below, we provide a basic overview of pet health insurance, address frequently asked questions, and explain how it can be used to save money at the vet
How Pet Insurance Works
Unexpected vet bills can typically range anywhere from a couple hundred to several thousands of dollars. Pet insurance helps protect you from the cost of unexpected accidents & illnesses when your four-legged friend gets sick or injured. Generally, here’s how the process works:
- You purchase a policy and pay a monthly or annual premium.
- Visit any licensed veterinary clinic or animal hospital whenever your pet experiences an unforeseen health issue.
- Pay for the cost to diagnose and treat your pet’s condition upfront, at the time of service.
- File a claim with your pet insurance company.
- Get reimbursed for covered costs via check or direct deposit.
What Pet Insurance Can Cover
There are two main types of pet insurance plans to consider: Accident-Only (AO) and Accident & Illness (AI). Most people purchase the second type — Accident & Illness plans — becuase they cover a wide variety of unexpected health issues. This list may include:
- Injuries, such as broken bones, torn nails, lacerations, and getting hit by a car
- Accidents, such as foreign object ingestion and accidental poisoning
- Acute illness, as in the case of ear infections, UTIs, kennel cough, and similar infections
- Chronic illness, for cases of diabetes, arthritis, allergies, and the like
- Genetic (hereditary) disorders, such as hip dysplasia and patellar luxation
- Congenital disordrers acquired at birth, such as heart defects
- Terminal disease, including cancer, kidney failure, and more
- Diagnostics, like x-rays, blood tests, and more.
Many pet insurance companies (known as “carriers”) also offer wellness plans to help cover the cost of routine veterinary care for things like vaccinations, flea and tick prevention, and annual checkups. Every pet insurance policy is different, so it’s important to read the fine print to understand what is and isn’t covered when choosing a carrier.
Things to Know Before Enrollment
- Deductibles: Your deductible determines how much will you have to pay out-of-pocket before your pet insurance policy starts paying for eligible veterinary bills.
- Reimbursements: The amount you receive in claim payouts will be based on the reimbursement percentage you choose when enrolling, which can range between 70-100%.
- Waiting Periods: Policy benefits don’t kick in immediately; all pet insurance companies enforce a mandatory waiting period before coverage begins.
- Pre-Existing Conditions: Pet insurance only works for unexpected health issues your pet may develop throughout its lifetime. It can’t be used to pay for conditions that existed before the policy was purchased. That’s why it is important to enroll your pet before medical problems arise.
How to Choose the Right Plan
If you think pet insurance is right for you, remember to keep these things in mind when comparing plans:
- Age Limitations: Some insurers may have age restrictions for enrollment or the coverage they provide.
- Breed-Specific Coverage: Some companies may not cover specific medical conditions that are common in certain breeds. If your pet is prone to hereditary or congenital disorders, it’s important to ensure the plan you choose covers these conditions.
- Projected Costs: Your premium rate is subject to change depending on your pet’s health and age, and the rate of increase varies by company. Be sure to consider the expected lifetime cost of the policy, not just the monthly price you will pay today.
By keeping these key points in mind, you can enroll in a great plan for your dog or cat, safeguarding their well-being – and your wallet. Pet insurance can provide you with peace of mind knowing that you can afford the care your pet needs.