Pet Health: What You Should Know About Pet Insurance

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Kittens, puppies, toy animals, giant Great Danes – whatever size and shape they come in, our pets and we share a very special bond. Every pet parent wants the best for their furry children, but try as we might to make provide for them, there are external events like accidents and illnesses that we have no control over. Far too often, these diseases, illnesses, or emergencies take a toll on our pets, families, and savings. I’ve heard stories of parents weighing heartbreaking decisions to stop veterinary treatment because of their financial burden.

This is where pet insurance can act as a backstop. Pet insurance will step in to cover the majority of upward exposure in veterinary expenses. Its primary benefits are: a financial investment towards your pet child’s health, and a priceless peace of mind that their medical needs will be seen to.

Pet insurance plans come in different shapes, sizes, and sums. This is why it is important to compare insurance plans to make sure you’re getting the right kind of veterinary coverage for your furry child. You can start with pet insurance comparison at a website like ValuePenguin’s: review the quotes for plans that fit in your budget, and dive into the plans’ benefit coverage and exclusions to see if it fits your pet’s needs. Here are five tips that simplify pet health insurance policies:

Five Tips on Pet Insurance

Accident and Illness coverage as core coverage: Consider getting coverage for accidents and illnesses. Trupanion estimates that 1 in 2 pets will have at least one serious accident or illness in their lifetime. Generally speaking, pet insurance plans can cost on average $20 – $40 a month (this varies with features and where you live). As for wellness coverage, does the additional premium each month adequately cover your pets routine care?

Understand your plan deductibles and limits: There are creative ways to structure benefit reimbursements, and you can think about them in terms of floors and ceilings. Most plans require you to cover the first $100 or so before they start reimbursing your veterinary expenses – this is the floor, or deductible. On to ceilings: this is the policy limit, or the maximum they’ll pay out on the policy. The tricky part is: is there a true plan-wide deductible, or does this insurer’s plan have individual deductibles for different categories? Is there an annual, incident, or lifetime limit? If a pet has cancer, which can require multiple rounds of treatment and therapy, is the insurance only covering up to $1,000 per year or $2,500 for the lifetime limit?

Research your pet’s breed history: Chances are, if your pet is purebred, there are certain types of diseases that it is more likely to get than other breeds. In any event, do some research to see if 1) there are any genetic conditions or illnesses, and 2) the insurer will cover that medical event for your cat or dog. At times, there can be an age requirement to when your insurer will cover hereditary or congenital diseases, such as enrolling your pet before its second birthday.

The fine print matters, especially on what gets covered. I found insurers who excluded different items from their claims reimbursements, which makes it harder to do a clean comparison across pet insurance companies. Do they cover the vet office visit fee, the diagnosis and treatment fees, and prescription medications? It is important to compare policies from different pet insurers you’re considering.

Insure your pet sooner rather than later: Insurers can begin phasing older dogs out of general medical coverage as early as six years of age. Like in human health insurance, insurers don’t cover pre-existing conditions, so by the time Fido or Kitty actually develops an expensive condition, it will be too late to get a pet insurance company to pay for their diagnosis and treatment.

Featured Image CreditJohn Donges / Foter / CC BY-ND

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About Author

Ting Pen is co-founder of ValuePenguin.com, a website that helps consumers make spending decisions based on research and data-driven tools. She writes articles on insurance, such as the best pet insurance plans, and the Affordable Care Act.

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