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What You Should Expect From Pet Insurance

Saturday, December 3rd

What You Should Expect from Pet Insurance

Owning a pet can be a very rewarding experience. For most people, their pets are more than just furry companions - they are members of the family.

Like any other family member, pets can be expensive to maintain, especially as they age. Like human beings, older pets are prone to certain diseases, including diabetes and heart disease. Medical procedures and interventions for these services can be quite costly, and pet owners can find themselves racking up thousands of dollars at the veterinarian to keep their pets healthy.

Now there is a solution beyond unnecessary euthanasia - pet health insurance.

The first official pet healthcare policy was sold in Britain in 1947. Britain trails only Sweden in the number of pet owners who provide insurance for their pets. Dogs are the most-insured pet, followed by cats and small exotic animals. While it is sold under the name "healthcare insurance," pet health insurance is actually under the property insurance umbrella. According to insurance laws, pets are seen as property, so the insurance policy which covers them is similar to that for any other property owned by an individual.

But what should you expect from pet insurance?

  • Affordability. The most important factor in purchasing a health insurance policy for your pet is affordability. Pet owners are more likely to purchase the coverage if it fits within their monthly budget. Policies range from as low as $15 a month to $75 a month or more. As with insurance policies for people, more costly plans tend to offer more bells and whistles when it comes to coverage.
  • Coverage Length. There are two kinds of insurance policies for pets: lifetime and non-lifetime coverage. Lifetime coverage policies are designed to provide coverage for the pet without limitations. Non-lifetime policies must be renewed annually, and with most plans in this category, any health condition for which a claim was filed in the previous year will automatically be placed on the list of non-covered procedures/conditions for the following year. Lifetime policies are designed to continue to provide coverage for any condition for which the pet has received veterinary care.
  • Coverage Type. When pet insurance policies first came onto the scene, most did not cover preventative care for pets, such as annual exams, vaccinations and spaying/neutering. Within the last couple of years, however, pet insurance companies in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom have begun to include routine preventative healthcare coverage in their plans.
  • Limitations. As with human health insurance plans, many plans for pets exclude pre-existing conditions. Even companies which cover pre-existing conditions generally place exclusions on how much will be covered and how often. It is best to research this if you have a pet that already suffers from a health condition which will require extensive monitoring.

As with health insurance policies for humans, those which cover our furry friends come with a variety of benefits. More expensive plans will cover more services at a higher coverage rate, while the majority of inexpensive plans contain coverage exclusions for select services. Before choosing any policy, do your research: ask for customer recommendations, compare coverage and cost factors, and seek out information from the veterinarian who provides health services to your pet.

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Pet Insurance Company FAQ

Generally speaking, all ages are welcome when it comes to providing your pet with pet insurance. As the pet gets older rates may be more expensive than if you would have gotten coverage at a younger age. Please keep in mind some companies have age restrictions for when they can accept a dog or cat into their insurance plan. Typical restrictions are around 12+ years of age.
No one can forecast when your dog or cat is going to digest something they shouldn't have or have an accident related injury. Luckily, pet insurance helps to protect the pet owner against unexpected veterinary bills that can reach into the $1,000s.
It is recommended to get pet insurance before winter or summer seasons. During those seasons, there are more dangerous elements that are exposing your pet to potential illness and accidents. As far as age goes for the puppy, insurance companies recommend getting your pet insurance when your new best friend arrives home.
Typically, insurance companies only insure cats and dogs. But some companies will insure dogs, horses, other large animals, cats, other small animals, rodents, reptiles, and birds.
Depending on the company, a pet insurance claim can be sent via several different methods. Methods can include email, fax, or regular mail. When completing a claim make sure to include all of your paid vet bill invoices, and any other required documents. When the claim is processed it will either be accepted with a reimbursement, more information needed (i.e. incomplete claim form), or denial (i.e. due to non-coverable services)
Of course, your pet insurance travels with you, wherever you go. Some insurance companies may have restrictions when it comes to international travel. Make sure to check with your pet insurance company if you plan on taking your furry friend across the border.
It depends greatly on which company and plan you decide to go with. Most pet insurance companies cover accidents and illnesses after a waiting period. If the illness is a preexisting condition, you're likely not to receive any coverage. It's important you understand the fine print of any plan you may decide to go with.
In general, veterinarians do not handle pet insurance claims. Veterinarians and the owner make choices for the pet's medical care and overall health. If the care is covered by the insurance, the insurance company will reimburse the owner a percentage of the bill (depending on the chosen insurance plan's coverage) after the care and service has been performed.

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