Pet Insurance overview
Less than 5% of pet owners in the US have pet insurance, but it is becoming more popular. The rising costs of supplies, medications, and labor mean rising veterinary costs. Some companies are now offering pet insurance as part of an employee’s benefits package.
Is pet insurance right for me?
Having pet insurance is like having car insurance or homeowners’ insurance. You are paying a premium to cover unexpected, expensive events, but ultimately hope you never need to use it. Pet insurance could be a resource that means you are able to afford unexpected medical bills.
What are my out-of-pocket expenses?
Premiums depend on your pet’s age, breed, your location, and the coverage you choose. Each company will be able to provide you with a quote. For conditions that are covered, the following are typically not reimbursed:
- The exam fee, if not covered by your policy.
- Your deductible.
- Your coinsurance- After the above out of pocket costs, the insurance company pays a certain percentage of the remaining amount.
When should I get insurance?
If you are interested in pet insurance, it is beneficial to obtain it while your pet is young. Pet insurance companies do not cover pre-existing conditions, thus keeping your pet insured while they are healthy will be important should they ever develop a condition later on in life. But even for young pets, insurance can be beneficial as they can develop illnesses such as allergies, asthma, lower urinary tract disease, Addison’s disease, and IBD just to name a few. Insurance can also cover pet injuries and accidents that can happen at any age (ie-emergency surgery to remove an ingested tennis ball, vehicular trauma, etc). Insurance is generally more expensive at later life stages.
How do claims work?
Pet insurance works differently than human health insurance. It is standard for you to pay your veterinary bill in full and be directly reimbursed by the pet insurance company. Some companies process claims in as little as 1-2 weeks, though you should verify the reimbursement timeframe with the company that you choose.You should expect your first claim to take a bit longer, as they will want to review your pet’s previous records.
Some insurance companies do offer to pay your vet directly. You should check with your veterinary practice to see their policies. Some practices are not able to offer this or there may be certain guidelines they follow.
Did you know? PetMedic Urgent Care will happily submit your insurance claim on your behalf! Let us know the insurance company and your policy number at your visit. Please note that some insurance companies do require you to download a claim form from your online portal.
Which company do you recommend?
If you have decided to go forward with insurance, the next step is choosing a company and plan. There is a lot of information for you to sift through and it is important that you read the fine print regarding coverage. There are many companies with different types of plans and what works best for you, may not be the best for the next person. At a minimum, it is recommended to find a plan that at least covers accidents and illness. This means your wellness visits are not covered, but those are costs that are expected and can be planned for each year.
The website Pet Insurance Review provides comparisons of pet insurance companies, as well as ratings and reviews so you can hear from other pet owners. Below are some questions you should be asking each insurance company to help find your best plan:
- What is the deductible? Is it an annual deductible?
- Are there any limits or caps to coverage?
- When should you expect your premiums to increase? Are there increases for aging and/or number of insurance claims?
- Are there multi pet discounts?
- When does coverage start and are there any restrictions?
- What is excluded?
- Are there waiting periods for certain conditions?
- Are there breed specific coverage restrictions, hereditary or congenital disease restrictions?
- What is your coverage for CrCl (Cranial cruciate ligament) injuries, hip dysplasia and cataracts?
- Do you cover alternative treatments? This can include: therapeutic laser treatment, physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, etc
What should I do if I don’t want insurance, or my pet already has pre-existing conditions?
If you are looking for an alternative to pet insurance, it is recommended that you start a savings account just for your pet. Instead of paying the premium to an insurance company, put that money aside to cover future vet bills.
There are certainly a lot of people who have never had to use their insurance, but the ones who have needed to use it are thankful they have it. Ultimately, the cost to insure an older pet, or a pet with pre-existing conditions may outweigh the benefits of insurance. Whether you plan on getting insurance or starting a savings account for your pet, it’s important to financially plan ahead for potential emergencies and sick visits.