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Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Pet Insurance

Pet Insurance is a growing way pet parents plan to care for their pet in case of an emergency.

Just over a decade ago, there was one pet insurance company that predominated the United States. Now there are over 14 companies that offer pet insurance in North America to a growing number of interested pet owners.

In writing this article, I interviewed pet owners, veterinary technicians, pet insurance policy holders and veterinarians.

What are the mistakes pet owners make when buying pet insurance?

1. Buying too late. The #1 mistake pet owners make is when they buy pet insurance. They want to shop for insurance AFTER their pet has a medical problem. While that is a logical time to look into insurance, it’s not the best time for you or your pet. Once your pet has a problem, it’s considered a pre-existing conditions and most insurance companies don’t cover those.

So when is the BEST time to buy pet insurance? When your pet is young, before he or she has any medical problems. This allows your pet to be covered for everything without having to worry about pre-existing conditions.

2. Not Reading the fine print. It’s grueling to read the fine print on anything, but it’s important – especially with an insurance policy. You should know what to expect from your pet insurance company. Along with the pre-existing condition exclusions mentioned above, most policies don’t cover routine care (yearly exams, flea/tick/heartworm preventatives, spaying/neutering), breeding, or cosmetic procedures (tail docking/ear cropping/declawing). Some companies also limit coverage on chronic genetic, and congenital conditions.

Have questions about what you’re reading? Ask! The company’s customer service representatives should be able to give you straight forward, honest answers. If they don’t, you may want to go with another company.

3. Not Understanding how it works. Not all pet insurance companies work the same way. From purchasing a policy to how you get reimbursed, each company is a little different.

When buying a pet insurance policy, it’s important to know what you’re getting. Is the deductible annual or per-incident? Will you be reimbursed based on a benefit schedule, usual and customary charges, or a direct percentage of the bill? Some pet insurance companies have tiered coverage with more thorough, comprehensive coverage only available on the higher tiers. Make sure you’re clear on what you policy covers and how the company reimburses, before you purchase.

4. Not Knowing how to compare. With over 14 companies in the North American Market – it is hard to know how to compare policies. Websites such as can help. They offer direct comparisons, user reviews from thousands of actual policy holders, and the option to get quotes from many of the major pet insurance providers.

5. Not Understanding that it is insurance. Insurance is not an investment. Insurance is a risk management tool. When you buy home owner’s insurance you are trying to moderate the risk of something like a house fire or a flood that would devastate your assets. You may pay homeowner’s insurance for years and never have a disaster, and most people would think of that as a good thing! . The same goes for pet insurance. It is not an investment. If you’re getting your “money’s worth,” that means your pet has been sick or injured. No one wants that but, if it does happen, you’ll be able to do what’s best for your pet without worrying about the cost of care.

I hope these items help you know more about buying pet insurance and common mistakes pet owners make when shopping for pet insurance.