Getting an Insurance for Your Pet
Pet insurance is essential when it comes to your pet’s health and wellbeing; unexpected illness, accidents, and congenital disorders can present themselves at any time. It is important to have coverage for all of your pets otherwise, you could very easily land yourself in unexpected debt because of an unplanned animal hospital visit. Some insurance companies have multiple price points for their plans, enabling optimization for your needs.
Pets that are most commonly covered with pet insurance include dogs and cats, although there are some insurers that have plans for birds and exotic pets. Birds and exotic pets are harder to find coverage for, so it is important for these types of pet owners to be able to see immediately if their pet qualifies for coverage by the insurance company. Exotic pets include snakes, turtles, rats, goats, chinchillas, frogs, hamsters and guinea pigs.
Find out more here: Pet Insurance for Exotic Animals
Most Important Pet Insurance Features
The most important pet insurance features to look for include:
- reimbursement amounts
– Pet Insurance Cost
Cost is important because you want to get the most cost effective package for the benefits you want to receive. Why pay more for benefits that you will not use or that do not apply to your pet? While cost is important, don’t choose the most inexpensive plan if it doesn’t cover what you need. Deductibles are specified amounts of money the insured party must pay before an insurance company will pay for a claim.
Ideally, a lower deductible is preferred because that means that it is less you need to pay out of pocket before the insurance pays for the claim. Some pet insurance companies offer an annual deductible, which is paid once during a policy year. Other companies offer per incident deductible, which is paid for each incident and can mean multiple deductibles throughout the year. There are even some companies that offer no deductible at all! Higher deductibles mean lower monthly prices, while lower deductibles increase monthly payments.
Reimbursements are usually calculated in either a percentage of the veterinarian bill where you get back a portion of what you paid on the veterinarian bill, or as a percentage of a benefit schedule, which involves a set amount for each condition regardless of the cost from the veterinarian bill. The most common percentage paid on veterinarian bills is 90% with the policyholder paying the remaining 10% of the bill. Flexibility to choose a veterinarian or specialist of your choice is also an important pet insurance feature.
Take into consideration what benefits are essential for your pets needs and make sure that those are covered in the package that you choose.
Pet Medical Coverage
Medical coverage for pets can include one or more of the following, depending on the amount of different plans.
- broken legs
- swallowed objects
- bite wounds
- toxic ingestions
Illnesses include curable conditions such as:
- respiratory infections
- chronic diseases like diabetes and cancer.
Hereditary and congenital conditions
Hereditary and congenital conditions are conditions that occurred through development or were passed on from the parent pet and include hip dysplasia, glaucoma and epilepsy. Routine care is usually optional coverage for expenses you plan on incurring, such as annual exams, testing/screening, dental cleaning, and parasite treatment.
Vital Features to Consider
Important medical coverage features include coverage for accidents, illnesses, and hereditary, chronic and congenital conditions. Other vital features include:
- emergency room visits
- option to choose your veterinarian or specialist
Imaging, lab tests, medication and coverage for pre-existing conditions are also important coverage features to consider.
If your pet is young, you should focus on plans that:
- offer spay
- neuter surgery
- microchip installation
- behavior training
- and parasite treatment
An older pet would benefit from coverage in:
- and teeth cleaning
Some of these benefits are featured in additional coverage under routine care, as they are expenses you are expecting to incur.
Pet Insurance Claims to Consider
Important claims management features include:
- quick claims processing
- access to online claims filing
- comprehensive customer service
- and mobile apps
Most pet insurance companies provide claims processing in around 30 days, although there are insurance providers that offer a smaller time frame.
The option of online claims submission and even mobile app claim submission is essential in today’s technology based world. Digital claims submission not only speeds up the claims process but also means you can access this information anywhere and anytime adding convenience and organization.
Other important options include downloadable forms and the ability to file a claim via fax, standard mail, and email in order to provide flexibility for the customer.
Choosing the Right Insurance for Your Pet
To get started with choosing pet insurance, you must first get a quote through an online form or via phone. Through phone or online, you can then purchase the appropriate policy for your needs once you have found the quote and policy that meets your needs. Creating an online account is also helpful as you can edit information if you move, pay your bill online, and access your policy information.
Support Features to Consider
Important support features include:
- email contact
- live chat
- social media
Some sites have an online submission form for inquiry, a live chat bar, or an email contact.
No matter what method of communication, quality customer service is a must have when it comes to any kind of insurance policy.
Compassionate, intelligent customer service should give health information and tips on adjusting claims, providing you with tools necessary to aid you with the process.
Many pet insurance providers have additional resources to aid their customers including blogs, Frequently Asked Questions, forums and help articles. These resources are not essential but they can assist customers with common topics to make things easier when problem-solving.
Most pet insurance providers have additional wellness plans that cover expected costs such as:
- yearly checkups
- dental cleaning
- diagnostic screenings
- spay/neuter surgery
- microchip installation
- behavior training
Some providers offer certain thresh holds of reimbursement per procedure listed in addition to the additional monthly payment. The most important wellness features overall include yearly checkups and vaccinations.
Young Pet: If you have a younger pet that is not altered, spay or neuter surgery, behavior training, and microchip will be very important.
Older Pet: Those with an older pet will be more focused on diagnostic screening and dental cleaning to keep the pet healthy throughout their life.
Pet Owner Assistance Insurance Plan
Additional coverage can include Pet Owner Assistance Packages, which provide:
- financial protection against third party damage caused by your pet
- trip cancellations due to pet sickness/injury
- advertisement and reward cost for lost pet
- and cremation or burial costs for pets that suffered an accident
- Euthanasia and pregnancy coverage is also available with the best providers
Choosing the Right Pet Insurance Company
Each insurance company will have their own specific exclusions regarding coverage. Some exclusions include preexisting conditions, elective procedures such as declawing, wellness and preventative care. Breeding, orthodontics, behavior training, food, and vitamins are also common exclusions.
Features to look for when getting started with a new pet include finding a plan for both accidents and illness since young pets tend to eat things and get into poisons more readily than an older adjusted pet.
Hereditary and congenital disorders usually present themselves early on and can be detected by a veterinarian.
Insurance for Young Pets
If your pet is very young, it may be worth it to invest in an additional wellness plan added on to the policy to cover costs of spay or neuter surgery, microchip installation, vaccinations, diagnostic testing as well as parasite treatment for fleas and heartworm.
Many pet insurance companies mention that preexisting conditions are not covered under their policies.
Preexisting conditions include an illness or accident that shows symptoms, which may or may not have been diagnosed or treated before the effective date of the insurance policy or waiting period. This prevents the insurance company from paying for something that was known. For example, if the pet has an incurable disease treated prior to policy date, any treatments for that disease afterward would not be covered since the policy started after the pet was diagnosed.
This makes it ideal to get pet insurance as soon as possible for your pets to prevent exclusions in coverage.
Check With Your Work Employer for Pet Insurance Benefits
Some employers may offer pet insurance as a health benefit; check with your employer to see if these benefits are available for you. Some insurance providers offer a discount for paying policies in full each year or for having a microchip for your pet. Some memberships for organizations or military service can be eligible for discounts as well. Both Nationwide and Pet First state on their website that employers can offer their pet insurance as a benefit for employees. Through Pet First, employee benefit recipients can save between 5-10% on their pet insurance premium. Those who work in animal welfare or veterinary service can receive a 10% discount on all cat or dog insurance plans through Pet First. This company also provides a discount for online pet health insurance policy purchases, which ranges from $10-$20 off of the first month depending on state. Pets Best has an automatic discount up to 5% when enrolling multiple pets, which includes current policyholders that add coverage for another pet. Pet Premium also offers a discount up to 10% for enrolling multiple pets.
Most Affordable Policy: Pets Best
Pets Best offers monthly premiums based on location, breed, age, as well as the selected deductible and reimbursement level. Reimbursements are calculated through a percentage of the veterinarian bill. Pets Best boasts 5 day claims processing, no upper age limits, online claims submission, free direct deposit reimbursement, full hereditary and congenital coverage, with no exam or medical records required to enroll. BestWellness routine coverage can be added to BestBenefit plans to pay for expected visits.
Best Insurance for Dogs: Trupanion
Trupanion features one plan with options to choose your deductible or no deductible at all. Policy covers surgery diagnostics, medicine, treatment and hospital stays with reimbursement from actual veterinarian bill covering 90% for approved accident and illness claims. Premium cost is determined by breed, age, gender, local cost of veterinary care and if your pet is spayed or neutered. Trupanion also has unlimited lifetime healthcare coverage with no limits for care.
Best Insurance for Cats: Nationwide
Nationwide pet insurance offers 90% back on veterinarian bills with three different plans to suit your needs.The Whole Pet with Wellness Plan features coverage on accidents, illness, hereditary conditions, and chronic conditions starting at $35/month. Wellness exams and treatments are also covered.Nationwide’s most popular package Major Medical starts at $19/month and covers accidents, illness, and some hereditary conditions after a waiting period of 1 year. Chronic conditions are covered at no extra cost.The Pet Wellness package starts at $12/month and provides coverage for vaccinations, flea control, and diagnostic tests.
Best Overall: Pet Premium
Pet Premium offers three levels of coverage including online claim submission and reimbursements up to 90%.Level 1 covers accidents only with a $2,500 incident limit.Level 2 covers accidents and illnesses with a $3,000 incident limit.Level 3 covers accidents, illnesses with an incident limit of $5,000.There are two optional wellness packages for preventative care Routine and Advance. Routine is $10/month and Advance is $25/month with a higher reimbursement level and additional benefits.
Other Pet Insurance Providers to consider:
ASPCA Pet Health Insurance offers three levels with all plans covering vet exam fee, hospitalizations, MRI, CT and X-ray, calls to animal poison control, diagnostic procedures, prescription meds, emergency visits, medical supplies, surgeries, lab tests, and specialty care with flexible deductibles and custom reimbursements.Level1 covers injuries and accidents with the freedom to choose any vet including specialists. This plan is recommended for those who have pets who are prone to getting injured or those who want basic coverage at a low cost.Level 2 covers injuries and illness, featuring versatile coverage at a median price point. This plan is recommended if your pet is not likely to have a hereditary condition. Level 2 includes injuries covered under Level 1 plus illnesses.Level 3 is the highest tier and includes Level 1 and 2’s benefits with coverage for hereditary and congenital conditions, alternative therapies and behavioral issues. There is an option to add on the Routine Wellness or Advanced Wellness coverage to any plan. Routine Wellness plan adds on $10/month and covers annual exam, testing, spay/neuter, microchip, and vaccinations. Advanced Wellness plan adds $25/month with the same benefits as Routine Wellness plus dental cleaning and heart worm/flea prevention.
PetFirst allows you to choose your own limit, deductible, and reimbursement amounts to customize your policy to fit your pet. Policies cover accidents, illnesses, hospitalizations/emergency care, surgeries, tests, exams, imaging, medications, holistic care and various hereditary, congenital, and chronic conditions. PetFirst offers one plan with three different options based on the annual limit. All options cover accidents, illnesses, hereditary, congenital and chronic conditions, periodontal disease, hip dysplasia, and cancer. The Lifetime Plan has a $5,000 limit plan for $37/month, $10,000 limit plan for $67/month and a $20,000 limit plan for $105/month. PetFirst also offers three routine wellness care coverage for an additional cost that cover expected veterinary expenses. The Routine Care 125 offers $125 of benefits for vet exams, vaccinations, prevention/microchipping, and behavior training starting at $7/month. Routine Care 250 provides a benefit of $250 starting at $13/month and includes routine maintenance and routine screens in addition to the 125 package. Routine care 400 adds $400 in reimbursement benefits per pet per policy year starting at $19/month and simply adds more available funds for certain covered benefits. These additional packages are best for those with pets to get fixed, attending behavior classes or pet owners wanting help with budgeting annual exam costs.
PetPlan pet insurance features personalization to select the level of coverage, deductible, and reimbursement that fits your needs. PetPlan boasts protection against accidents, injuries, illnesses, and chronic and hereditary conditions. Pre-authorization is available before committing to a treatment and they state that 30-40% of all claims are chronic conditions that last 12 months or more.