For as long as pet health insurance has been around, there has been confusion about it. What does pet health insurance cover? How does it work? And maybe the most common question; is it worth it? To make it even more confusing, all of these questions have different answers for different insurance companies and consumers. So, is pet health insurance worth YOUR while?
Many people buy pet health insurance with the intention of getting more money out of it than they put in. And lots of people do. But the truth is, pet insurance is just like any other insurance. You buy it. You pay your premiums. And you hope that nothing catastrophic happens so that you have to use it. If you are considering if pet insurance is right for you and your pet, consider how much you would be willing to spend if they became ill or injured. Would you be willing to spend $1,000? $5,000? Would you spend $10,000 to save your pet’s life? If you are willing to spend that much money on your pet, do you have that much money available to you if an emergency happens? Most people don’t have thousands of dollars sitting, waiting for a pet emergency. This is when pet health insurance can save your pet’s life.
So, you’ve decided that you would be willing to spend $5,000 to save your pet’s life. But you don’t have $5,000 available at a moment’s notice. Do you have a spare $30 or $50 every month to pay a pet insurance premium? Then pet insurance is a great option for you! Of course your premium will vary greatly depending on your pet’s species, breed, size, and age. Some insurance providers allow you to set your own deductible and change your monthly premium based on your deductible and copays. Generally, puppies and kittens will have lower premiums than older pets (many pet insurance providers don’t offer coverage for pets over 10-14 years old). It is also best to get insurance for your pet while they are young, before they develop any illnesses as no pet insurance company currently provides coverage for pre-existing conditions.
If you’ve decided that pet health insurance is a good option for you, your next step is to research your insurance options. Now this is where it gets overwhelming for most of us. Before you start your research, I recommend that you consider what you would like to get out of your pet’s insurance. Most pet health insurance companies offer Wellness coverage, as well as Accident and Illness protection. Wellness services are easier to plan and budget for than accidents and illnesses. If you are able to plan and budget for your pet’s wellness services on your own, you can have a lower pet insurance premium. If you would like to have Wellness coverage for you pet, consider the following when comparing policies: Do they provide coverage for annual preventive blood work? Do they provide coverage for monthly flea, tick, and heartworm preventatives (and if so, do they cover some or all of the cost?) Do they cover the cost of exam fees? Do they cover preventative dental cleanings?
Even if you are only interested in Accident and Illness coverage, you’ll still have some research to do and comparisons to make. Most pet health insurance providers have waiting periods and they all vary depending on the company. You’ll want to know how long the waiting period is and if the insurance covers hereditary conditions, testing and diagnostics, holistic or alternative medicine, periodontal disease, and prescription diets. Many breeds are prone to certain diseases; make sure you choose an insurance policy that does not exclude anything your pet may be predisposed to. Does the insurance offer coverage for holistic or alternative medicine like cold laser therapy or acupuncture? What about rehabilitation? Many pet insurances do not offer any periodontal disease coverage, and those that do may only reimburse you for a small portion. Make sure you know what you would like to get out of your pet’s health insurance so that you can be sure to choose the right policy for you.
So. You’ve got a young, healthy pet. You can afford to pay a monthly premium. You know whether or not you want wellness coverage. You’ve compared insurance companies and policies and you’ve found the one that fits you and your pet’s lifestyle. You’ve purchased your pet’s policy and your waiting period is over. How does pet health insurance work from here?
Pet health insurance is different from human health insurance in that there are no networks that accept your insurance or don’t. Almost all pet insurances can be used at just about any veterinary clinic, be it a general practice, emergency, or specialty clinic. For most pet insurances you will pay your vet’s office up front, file a claim for the visit (your vet’s office should be able to help you with this), wait for the claim to be approved and your insurance provider will reimburse you, the pet owner. Some pet health insurances are able to pay your veterinary clinic directly, so this is also something to consider when comparing companies and policies.
Overall, we have found that if you can afford it, pet health insurance is always worth it. You have to find the right fit for you and your pet, but ultimately pet insurance helps save lives. For so many of us, our pets are our family. Having insurance means having peace of mind that you can afford life saving efforts for your pet in an emergency.