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What You Should Know Before Buying Pet Insurance

Tuesday, November 29th

What You Should Know Before Buying Pet Insurance

Pet owners have a special affection for their furry companions. Oftentimes, they think of them not only as pets, but as members of their families. As such, they want to ensure their pets live long, happy and healthy lives.

One of the best ways to make sure your pet stays in tip-top condition is to purchase a pet insurance plan.

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 insurance umbrella for property. 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.

There are a few things you should know before buying pet insurance.

First and foremost is cost. Pet insurance plans should provide the kind of coverage needed at a cost that is affordable. There are 10 companies that offer pet insurance plans within the United States. Of those companies, plans range in cost from $15 a month to $50 or more. Some plans require the holder to meet a deductible prior to paying claims, much as health insurance plans for humans. If in order to afford a monthly premium the client has to have a deductible that is too high to reasonably afford, then the insurance plan is not a good choice. Annual limits for covered services also create problems for clients who own pets with chronic health conditions. There are a few plans that do not have annual limits, so it may be best to choose one of those plans if your pet will need continual care.

Another issue to consider is the way the pet insurance company handles veterinary cost reimbursements. Some insurers do not cover veterinarian exam charges, and restrict the reimbursement amount to a set amount per diagnosis.

For most pet owners, regular wellness exams, vaccinations and routine preventative health care are the most common procedures their pet undergoes. However, several of the pet insurance companies on the U.S. market do not include coverage for these routine services, leaving the customer to pay for a monthly insurance premium, as well as routine veterinarian care. In these instances, the insurance plan is not worth the monthly cost to the pet owner.

Another important factor in choosing a plan that is right for you is what the customer is required to do in order to have covered services paid for by the insurance plan. Some plans allow the veterinarian to bill them directly, much as human health insurance companies do, while others require the policyholder to pay the costs up front and then submit the receipts for reimbursement. Some customers of companies which require up-front payment have complained that it is difficult to have those costs reimbursed by the insurance plan later. So if guaranteeing that the costs will be covered is important, it is best to choose a plan that has a guaranteed coverage percentage plan.

Pet owners in the U.S. spend roughly $12 billion dollars annually for veterinarian care for their pets. This number is only expected to increase as more advanced medications become available to our pets. Choose a plan that best suits your needs and those of your pet to ensure a pleasant experience.

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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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