Everything You Need to Know About Pet Insurance
Pet health emergencies can strike at any time. In addition to stress and emotional turmoil, these events often take a financial toll. Many pet parents are asked to make impossible decisions, euthanizing pets or forgoing procedures because they can’t afford treatment.
While it can’t prevent the unexpected and unfortunate, pet insurance can keep policyholders from having to choose between their beloved pets and their financial security.
What Is Pet Insurance?
Like other forms of insurance, pet insurance exists to offer peace of mind and a financial safety net for policyholders. Though it applies to a pet’s medical needs, pet insurance arguably has more in common with car insurance than with traditional health insurance.
Both types of insurance are mostly meant to help with unexpected costs. Car insurance providers reimburse policyholders for accidents, but don’t cover costs associated with routine maintenance or performance issues that predate the policy. Pet insurance providers generally employ a similar philosophy. Typically, they’ll reimburse pet parents for costs related to pet health emergencies or conditions that develop as pet’s age. When it comes to pre-existing conditions and certain other costs, however, pet parents will usually have to pay out of pocket.
What Does Pet Insurance Cover?
All pet insurance providers are different and most offer a menu of plans. These will range from very inexpensive plans (which might cover accidents alone) to more robust offerings. These more comprehensive policies might cover all or some of the following:
- Accidents: Even the simplest, least expensive plans typically cover services and procedures associated with accidents. Common accidents include insect bites, muscle and bone injuries, and poisoning.
- Alternative Therapies: Treatments like acupuncture, massage therapy, and chiropractic care have become increasingly popular with parents over the years. Some expansive plans offer reimbursement for these treatments.
- Chronic Conditions: Dogs and cats are susceptible to a host of chronic conditions as they age. These may affect the joints, heart, kidneys, or other parts of the body. Chronic condition reimbursement repays policyholders for treatment, medication, and other related services.
- Hereditary Conditions: Certain breeds are uniquely susceptible to conditions like heart disease and hip dysplasia. As long as symptoms arise after the policy takes effect, costs related to these conditions are usually covered.
- Illnesses: Providers may cover treatment for illnesses like urinary tract infections and digestive issues. Illness coverage also typically covers more serious and costly conditions like cancer.
- Prescription Medication: Many plans cover medications associated with managing the symptoms of chronic conditions like hip and elbow dysplasia or heart disorders.
- Preventative Care: For an additional fee, some providers offer premium plans that reimburse pet parents for routine costs like wellness exams, flea and tick prevention, and vaccinations.
How Much Will Pet Insurance Cost?
The cost of a pet insurance policy will depend on a number of factors, including:
- Your location: The price of insurance is generally higher in metropolitan areas.
- Your pet’s breed: Among both dogs and cats, certain breeds are especially susceptible to certain conditions. Policies are often more costly for these pets.
- Your pet’s age: Since older pets are more likely to fall ill or become injured, most providers charge more to cover them.
One thing pet insurance and traditional health insurance have in common is a huge list of industry-specific terms. Sometimes, selecting and comparing plans can feel like speaking a foreign language. Here are simple definitions for some important pet insurance terms:
The maximum sum that a pet insurance provider will reimburse a policyholder during their 12-month policy period.
The amount a policyholder must spend on covered healthcare services before they are reimbursed. For example, imagine someone submits a pet insurance claim for $500 and their deductible is set at $250. They would be responsible for paying the first $250 out of pocket and their provider would then cover the additional $250. Depending on the plan, deductibles may apply on a per-policy period or per-incident basis.
The maximum sum that a pet insurance provider will reimburse a policyholder over the pet’s lifetime. Certain plans and providers apply lifetime limits and others do not.
Health conditions that arise or become symptomatic before a policy’s start date or during its waiting period. Pre-existing conditions are typically not covered by pet insurance, but PetPartners offers coverage for “commonly excluded symptoms and conditions such as cancer, urinary tract infections, chronic ear infections, gastrointestinal issues, and more” in certain states after a 365-day waiting period.
The period before a policy’s benefits kick in. Medical expenses incurred during this period are not covered under the policy.
4 Benefits of Pet Insurance
- Provides Peace of Mind: A good pet insurance policy won’t keep your pet from getting hurt or sick, but it can help make illnesses and emergencies far less stressful.
- Offers Tailored Services: You know your pet and financial situation better than anyone else. Most popular insurance providers offer a range of options so pet parents can build plans that fit their lifestyles and pets.
- Makes Budgeting Simple: Nobody likes a surprise medical bill. Pet insurance effectively eliminates them by creating a manageable, predictable payment schedule.
- Saves Lives: Uninsured pet parents have to make heartbreaking choices all the time, forgoing potentially life-saving treatments because of the financial burden. By alleviating many of these costs, insurance helps pet parents enjoy more time with their beloved companions.
3 Tips for Selecting Coverage
- Act Now: When it comes to pet insurance, soonest is usually best. Plans get more expensive as pets age and many providers don’t offer reimbursement for pre-existing conditions. Anyone bringing home a puppy or kitten should start looking into coverage as soon as they can.
- Consider Your Pet’s Unique Needs: It’s important that pet parents make a thorough assessment of their pet’s current and future healthcare needs before making a selection. Certain breeds, for example, are all but guaranteed to develop specific conditions with age. Pet parents should also take their pet’s medical history (however brief) into account. A provider may consider an animal with regular digestive or urinary issues to have a pre-existing condition.
- Compare and Contrast: The pet healthcare landscape is broad and diverse. While it’s crucial to make a selection when pet insurance is most affordable, pet parents should not make hasty decisions or select a plan based on price alone.
Talk to Your Vet
Did you know that September is National Pet Insurance Month? Now’s the perfect time to start thinking about your options.