Pet insurance can be an absolute lifesaver; quite literally. When unexpected vet bills arise, a solid insurance plan will keep you from becoming overwhelmed.
However, it is important to choose the right pet insurance plan. Ideally, your plan should cover all the services your pet regularly needs, as well as some services they may need in the future.
Be warned: going out and signing up for the first policy you see is a recipe for disaster. When your pet’s health is on the line, you want to make sure you do your due diligence.
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Every pet insurance policy varies in their coverage and payout structure. Before you commit to a plan, there are some important factors to consider. Find out how to get the most out of your pet insurance below!
What Does Pet Insurance Cover?
Most insurance plans cover accidents, as well as illnesses. This means if your dog hurts their leg from a fall, their treatment would be covered. If they were to get an ear infection, that would also be covered.
There are also policies that only cover accidents, which tend to be cheaper. An accident-only policy would be useful in any type of physical injury. However, if they get sick, you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket.
Generally, accident and illness plans for pets cover:
- X-rays, ultrasounds, and other diagnostic tests
- Emergency care
- Treatment for illnesses like cancer or infections
- Prescription medications
Besides these basics, coverage can also help pay for alternative rehabilitative treatment, behavioral therapy, cognitive or hereditary conditions, and prescription diets and supplements. Most pet owners won’t need these services, but if your pet does, it is highly recommended to invest in pet insurance.
Pet insurance can even cover expenses associated with euthanasia, cremation or burial when your pet passes away. When that inevitable moment finally comes, the last thing you want to worry about is paying for these services.
What Doesn’t Pet Insurance Cover?
Though pet insurance covers a wide range of services, there are also a number of services that it won’t cover. Before you choose a plan, you should make sure all the needs of your pet are met in the policy.
You can expect most pet insurance companies to exclude coverage of pre-existing conditions. These are almost never covered by any pet insurance policy. Yet, some companies will cover conditions that have been cured for a set amount of months.
A pre-existing condition can be defined as a medical issue that your pet had before you bought the policy or that popped up during the waiting period. However, if your pet develops a condition while you are under an insurance plan, and you decide to increase the coverage, some companies may subject you to the same restrictions as if you were buying an entirely new plan.
Therefore, your waiting periods will restart and any previous conditions covered by your old policy will now be considered pre-existing. If you do decide to increase coverage on an existing policy, make sure you are not going to be treated as a new policyholder.
Besides pre-existing conditions, pet insurance companies rarely cover cosmetic or elective surgeries. This includes procedures like declawing, tail docking, and ear cropping. Generally, these types of surgeries aren’t considered medically necessary.
Your pet insurance plan will probably also exclude coverage of breeding expenses. Yet, you may be able to add a rider to help with these costs. If your planning on breeding, look for a plan that offers riders for it.
Lastly, you need to look out for exam fees. Many plans reimburse you for treatment and medication, but don’t cover you for routine checkups. If you’re somebody that likes to visit the vet frequently, you should look for a plan that also pays for general visits.
How Much Does It Cost?
To get the best bang for your buck, you should look for a plan that has high payout limits and reimbursement levels, with low deductibles and co-pays.
A payout limit is how much money the insurance company is willing to pay out per year. Ideally, this amount should be close to your expected expenses.
Reimbursement levels are how much money you’re being given back from the insurance company. When you buy a policy, you get to choose how much you’re reimbursed, whether it’s 70%, 80% or 90%.
Deductibles are the bills you’re responsible for paying toward an insured loss. For pet insurance, the age of your pet will play the biggest factor in how much your deductibles are.
Some companies weigh age as a bigger factor than others. If your pet is elderly, look for a policy that is specifically for older pets.
Co-pays are the bills you pay that aren’t covered by insurance. Usually, this is about 10-30% of your bill.