As many pet owners consider pet insurance, it is natural for pet owners to compare their own experiences with human health care to pets. There are several differences between human health insurance and pet insurance.
There are few pets insured in the United States as compared to other countries. Approximately 1.5 to 2% of pets in the United States are covered by pet insurance. Other countries, such as the United Kingdom, have about 25% of pets insured; Sweden has about 50% of its pets insured.
Some experts believe that one of the reasons the United States has fewer covered pets is because they are less familiar with how pet insurance works and the value it provides.
To learn more about how it works – go to How Does Pet Insurance Work?
- Many pet owners want to know how pet insurance differs from human health insurance. Here are some of the differences between pet insurance companies and coverage and human health insurance:
- One big difference how pet insurance differs from human health insurance is that pets are legally considered to be the property of their owners, so pet insurance falls under the Property and Casualty insurance classification. It is considered a form of indemnity insurance, similar to car insurance or homeowner’s insurance.
- Most veterinarians and staff are not familiar with all pet insurance companies and the details of their policies. It is likely that most veterinarians have not even heard of some companies offering pet insurance and have little experience with the claims process. In most cases the front desk staff deals with any forms or makes copies for the policy holders.
- There are thirteen companies offering pet insurance in North America to choose.
- There are large differences in coverage limits, deductibles and reimbursement percentages with each policy. The more coverage you want, the higher your monthly premium will be. Coverage and exclusions will vary from company to company. Choose the best pet insurance plan that meets your budget and needs.
- Of the thirteen pet insurance companies, one company reimburses pet owners based on a benefit schedule (VPI) and the others reimburse based on a straight deductible and co-pay.
- There are no HMOs. The pet insurance companies leave the medical decisions and treatment plan up to you and your veterinarian. There are no pre-authorizations.
- Some pet insurance companies offer wellness care coverage and others do not. Wellness care includes annual examinations, vaccinations, dental cleanings, deworming, heartworm testing, flea/tick control and heartworm preventatives. . If you are interested in this type of coverage, it may be an additional premium to your policy.
- Some pet insurance companies also offer “Accident” or “Emergency Only” coverage, which covers your pet for accidents such as Head Trauma or being hit by a car. Another specialty insurance policy is for cancer only.
- Once you insure your pet and keep up the insurance premium, most companies will not drop your pet as they enter into their senior years.
- Unlike human health insurance, there is no network of veterinarians you need to choose from. Pet insurance companies in the United States and Canada allow you to see any veterinarian in the country, including specialists.
- Before you go to your veterinarian print out your claim form or keep copies on hand.
- Keep all receipts from your vet and submit them with your claim form and any other required paperwork. Depending on the pet insurance company, you may be required to pay your vet directly and then submit your receipt and required information (this is the most common process). The pet insurance company will then reimburse you directly. There are a couple of companies that will reimburse your vet directly; however, you need to discuss this in advance with your veterinarian to make sure they will accept that payment option. NOTE: Most veterinary clinics expect payment at the time of services. If you are working with a third party to get them paid, they may not be familiar with that company or prefer to be paid and have the company pay you directly. It is easier to have this approved up front.
- Submit your paperwork to the pet insurance company. Most companies will process your claim in 7 – 14 days, some up to 30 days. After that time they will issue a payment directly to you unless you are working with one of the companies that will reimburse your veterinarian directly.
I hope this article gives you more information about the difference between pet insurance coverage and human health insurance.