We all want what is best for our pets, and there are incredible veterinary services to choose from today. By taking full advantage of these care options, your pet can live a longer, healthier life. Insurance can help cover your costs for care, and may enable you to choose more complete care. When you do a little research, you will soon see that pet insurance is very different from our health insurance, and does not have the same disadvantages!
Most pets will encounter one or more major medical issues in their lifetimes, so pet insurance warrants serious consideration. For detailed information, visit the website of companies you are considering, or talk with a rep from that company. Pet Plan Insurance as well as Trupanion Pet Insurance are just a couple of companies to consider.
Not All Pet Insurance Companies Are the Same….
The following information outlines key points pertaining to pet health insurance, and serves as a guide for some of the questions to ask when considering a pet insurance plan. We have researched several companies, and have found many variations. What will fit the needs of one pet or owner might not work for another. To help you in your decision, we have outlined some important points to consider and research when looking into insurance.
Pet Health Insurance compared to human health insurance and HMOs:
- They are designed very differently. Pet insurance is more like auto or dental insurance, and is often endorsed by general insurance companies.
- Owner pays the veterinarian, and then is reimbursed by the insurance company.
- Most plans allow you to choose any veterinarian.
- You submit the claim and vet care invoice; most forms are short and easy to complete
What does it cost?
- Annual premiums vary, depending on the plan, and sometimes on the age of the pet.
- There are copays, and usually a deductible before the insurance reimburses you.
- Average monthly premiums for mid-range coverage illness plans – $15 – 35 per month
- Average monthly premiums for wellness plans – $10 – 30 per month
- Some companies give multi pet discounts; some companies offer a 30 day free trial.
- All illness and accident plans have deductibles
- Some companies allow you to choose the amount – from $50 – $500.
- Generally, the higher the deductible, the lower the premium.
- Some deductibles are per incident or illness, some are per year.
Reimbursement-There are two types, depending on the company:
- Reimbursement based on % of actual vet invoice – usually 80-90%
- Based on benefit schedule (pre-determined “acceptable” vet fee schedule)
- There is usually a dollar maximum that the company will reimburse.
- Usually, the higher the premium, the higher the maximum.
- The maximum limit could be per illness or a lifetime maximum.
- Not covered. (An auto insurance co. would not sell you coverage after an accident!)
- How to avoid this exclusion? Enroll early, before your pet develops any problems.
- Be sure that upon annual renewal, a chronic condition will still be covered. (See next section)
Chronic conditions (e.g. kidney failure, skin issues, chronic ear or bladder infections, diabetes):
- Be sure the condition will be covered when you renew.
- Some companies cover this the first year; then consider it “pre-existing” upon renewal!
- Cosmetic procedures (ear crops; tail docks; dewclaws, though not necessarily cosmetic)
- OFA and health certifications
- Pre-existing conditions
- Anal glands
- Parasites – prevention and treatment, internal and external
- Sometimes inherited conditions
- Congenital problems – present at birth
- Prescription foods
- At least one company excludes prescriptions (requires a separate rider)
- Medical conditions that are common in certain breeds are often excluded – the insurance company will provide specifics if you ask.
** Some companies offer add-on riders to cover some of the above conditions.
** Some companies will provide limited “flat rate” coverage for the above conditions.
Wellness exams, vaccinations, etc.
- Staying current on wellness exams and vaccines can help prevent or lessen the severity of illness.
- Most companies offer separate “wellness” coverage for a separate premium.
- Partial reimbursement is the general rule (40-70%) with no deductibles.
- Disciplined owners can also save for these procedures, since, unlike illnesses, owners can plan for this expense.
Average Waiting Periods:
There is always a waiting period after signing up, which varies with the company.
- Cruciate repair – 6 – 12 mo.
- Illness – 14 – 30 days
- Recurring illness (e.g. ear infection or UTI)– free of the illness for 6 – 12 mo.
- Accident – 2 – 14 days
The bottom line: We feel pet insurance can greatly benefit your pet and his/her quality and length of life. Remember, it is primarily for unexpected expenses and can greatly reduce potential economic strain for you. For more details, we advise you to visit the websites of the companies you are considering, and then call the company with your questions. Pet Plan Insurance as well as Trupanion Pet Insurance are just a couple of companies to consider.