A lot of families having pets struggle to pay for medical expenses their furry family members might incur at some point in their lives.
Usually the first year is the most difficult one as it is not easy to predict what health problems a pet might have. This is especially true if a pet was adopted or rescued as they often need medical care right after that.
That said, not everything is as bad as it sounds. There are numerous insurance plans that can and will help you alleviate the cost of caring for your pet but just like with any insurance you need to make sure you get informed about possibilities, options, in-network vets, etc. to get the most out of your insurance coverage. This article lists main points you need to know before considering an insurance plan for your pet.
- Type of insurance plan. Insurance plans differ based on provider and state you reside in, but most offer the following two types:
- Comprehensive Insurance Plan is similar to a human health insurance plan and offers comprehensive coverage
- Health Discount Plan is a plan where you pay an annual fee and get discounts on services performed by your vet
- Waiting periods. Like many insurance plans your insurer might have a waiting period before they cover any expenses. Check with your provider as you might end up paying for your pet’s medical care out of your pocket while paying premiums and waiting.
- Routine check-ups. These are often covered but do check with your insurer whether there are any services you might need to cover yourself. The most common routine check-ups include vaccinations, dental care and heartworm checks.
- Common exclusions. Pet insurance exclusions can vary per insurance but the most common are:
- Pre-existing conditions
- Hereditary defects
Just like with the regular health insurance there might be an option for getting these exclusions covered for an additional fee if you wish to have these covered as well.
- Maximums or coverage limits. It is not unusual for pet insurance to have a maximum amount an insurance will cover for a given procedure. This means that if the procedure your pet requires costs more than what insurance is willing to pay, you will need to cover the rest. This information is very important to know upfront as it can get very expensive for you if your pet gets very ill.
- Your vet of choice. Different insurance plans have different rules – some allow you to go to any vet, even if you are travelling and need veterinary assistance in a different state; while others have in-network vet list and will only offer coverage if you go to a participating vet. This is an important point to check in your insurance plan as it makes a big difference.
- Controlling pet population is important not only for you but for those around you as well. Therefore, neutralization or spraying procedures are very common and are used by most pet owners. A lot of plans cover this as part of basic care or wellness and not under incident or illness plans. Enquire with your insurance whether your plan would cover this procedure as well.
- Prescription medication coverage. Just like it is with humans, pets might require prescription medication at one point or another. These might be expensive if you need to pay for them out of your pocket. Check with your provider if this is something they cover in the plans they offer.
- Every insurance plan is different, and the deductible you will need to pay will also differ from one plan to another. A deductible is an amount you need to pay out of your pocket before insurance steps in. You will want to make sure that your insurance plan has a deductible you can afford. Remember: the lower the deductible, the higher the premium! You can contribute to lowering your monthly premium by accepting a higher deductible, which means your insurance will need to pay less during your claim. You, in turn, will pay lower premiums on a monthly basis.
- Get an insurance from a reputable company. It’s always a good idea to research your insurance provider before you sign up. There are multiple fora available online where you can get feedback from other pet owners on the types of insurance they have and are happy with and the ones that are not worth your trust. These will also help you get an idea what it is that you want for your pet, and you will therefore come prepared to your insurer and will not get tricked into plans that will not work for you and your pet.
It is important you feel comfortable with your insurance and that you take it from a company that will be willing to answer your questions and provide assistance when necessary. A good insurance policy will go a long way in ensuring that you and your pet are happy and healthy for a long time.