From the first time we lay eyes on them as kittens, puppies, or whatever size and shape they came in, our pets tug at our heartstrings in a very special and unique way. Five years or a decade later, they’ve added on some twenty pounds or ten inches, but they’re still our beloved furry babies.
Every pet parent wants the best for their furry children, and this is why today, I want to talk about the serious topic of pet insurance. Try as we might to make life easier for our pets, there will likely be unexpected accidents and illnesses that we have no control over. Far too often there are diseases, illnesses, or emergencies inflicted on our beloved pets that can drain our savings – a real risk in this economy. I’ve heard stories of parents weighing heartbreaking decisions to pursue veterinary treatment at the expense of their own health and family budgets.
This is where pet insurance can step in to help. 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 crucial to contrast and compare insurance plans to make sure you’re getting the right kind of veterinary coverage for your investment. You can start by looking at different quotes at a pet insurance comparison tool like ValuePenguin’s. Next, dive into their benefit coverage and exclusions to see if it fits your pet’s needs. Here are five tips to help you wade through the complexity of pet health insurance policies:
Five Tips on Pet Insurance
- Accident and Illness coverage makes the most sense: Consider getting coverage for accidents and illnesses as a safe baseline. At some point, your pet can be reasonably expected to have at least one of each. Generally speaking, these 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: Insurers have creative ways to structure benefit reimbursements, that you can picture in terms of floors and ceilings. Most plans require you to spend a minimum amount before they start reimbursing your veterinary expenses – a floor, or deductible. Now, is there a true plan-wide deductible, or does this insurer’s plan have individual deductibles for different categories? On to ceilings: this is the policy limit. 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 dog is purebred, there are certain types of diseases that it is predisposed to. 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 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.
- Read the fine print, 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: Insurance providers start phasing older dogs out of general medical coverage, and this can begin as early as six years of age. Like in human health insurance, insurers don’t cover pre-existing conditions, so by the Fido or Kitty develops something, it will probably be too late to get a plan that will actually pay for their diagnosis and treatment.