When you adopted a furry best friend, you probably factored the cost of routine veterinary care into your budget. But have you considered how you would pay for a severe injury or life-threatening disease?
Depending on your pet’s health issues, treatment can be expensive, and you may have to make some hard decisions.
Thanks to affordable pet health insurance with great coverage, we can give our pets access to a wide range of life-saving treatments, including emergency care. Not surprisingly, pet health insurance has become more popular and can help you ensure your pet receives the care they need, regardless of the situation’s severity. However, not all policies are the same, and coverage varies widely.
What is covered?
A variety of pet insurance plans are available, with each offering different coverage. You should consider which type of plan will best help you provide care for your furry friend in any situation.
- Accident only — Accident-only plans offer peace of mind in emergency situations. An accident-only plan can be helpful if your budget for your pet’s routine care but want to know they will be covered in the case of an emergency, such as a car injury or traumatic fall. For instance, Farmers Pet insurance sells “accident only” pet insurance with a flat rate of $6 per month for cats and $9 per month for dogs, regardless of your dog’s breed. Keep in mind that with an accident-only policy, you’ll have to pay the complete veterinary cost for non-accident-related medical expenses.
- Accident and illness only — This type of coverage helps you provide care for your pet in unexpected situations, such as a traumatic injury or sudden case of vomiting. Accident and illness coverage is great for younger pets since unexpected vet visits are inevitable and can happen at any age. Pet insurance premiums are lower for younger pets and ensure you have coverage before something goes wrong. A wide variety of situations are covered with an accident and illness policy, including but not limited to diabetes, cancer, kidney disease, and other illnesses, plus accidents like muscle tears or intestinal blockage.
- Wellness care — Wellness care covers routine veterinary care, such as wellness visits, vaccines, and parasite control. Some policies also cover routine dental care. Many providers offer optional wellness coverage that can be added to an accident and illness policy.
- Optional riders — Riders are additional policies that can be added to a basic policy to cover specific situations, such as cancer treatment. Although some policies cover cancer care, a rider can help defray costs if you choose a policy that does not.
Comprehensive plans are also available that cover wellness care, accidents, and injuries. For instance, if you opt for Nationwide Whole Pet with Wellness, 90% of your pet’s eligible veterinary bills are covered. This plan includes:
- Hereditary and congenital conditions
- Wellness exams
- Flea and heartworm prevention
- Blood work
- Dental diseases
- Behavioral treatments
- Prescription therapeutic diets
- Coverage with any veterinarian, including specialty and emergency veterinarians
- 24/7 vet helpline®
Pet health insurance policies vary, and you should thoroughly research various options to ensure you choose a policy that provides the coverage your pet needs.
What is not covered?
In general, pre-existing conditions are not covered, however, the criteria for exclusion can vary depending on the condition. For example, a dog with pre-existing cranial cruciate ligament disease will be excluded from coverage for future cranial cruciate ligament issues, since this is a chronic, non-curable condition. However, curable pre-existing conditions may qualify for coverage after a specific time frame, during which the pet is symptom-free. For example, a dog with a previous bout of diarrhea may not be precluded from coverage related to future gastrointestinal conditions, provided they have not had continuing problems.
Additionally, some policies exclude coverage for certain conditions, such as hereditary and congenital conditions, or cancer. Thoroughly review each policy before enrolling, to ensure your pet’s plan covers conditions they are likely to develop.
How much of my pet’s care will be covered?
Pet Insurance covers either your pet’s entire veterinary bill or part of costly veterinary procedures. Like human health insurance, plans offer a variety of premiums and deductibles, which are inversely related. A higher monthly premium affords you a lower deductible, whereas a lower monthly premium equates to a higher deductible. After you pay the deductible, a certain percentage (up to 90%) of eligible expenses will be paid by the insurance company.
For instance, if your dog injures their cruciate ligament, the medical expenses and surgical procedure typically cost thousands of dollars. If you have accident coverage with a $100 deductible and a 90% reimbursement rate, you will pay only $400 out-of-pocket ($100 deductible + 10% cost of surgery = $400) for a $3,000 procedure.
How much does pet insurance cost?
The cost of pet insurance depends on several things, including:
- Species, gender, and breed — Particular breeds are predisposed to certain diseases that may cost more to insure. For instance, large dog breeds are more susceptible to heart and hip issues and have higher medication costs.
- Age — As pets get older, they are more likely to become ill, and so they have higher pet insurance premiums. Some pet health insurance companies, like Trupanion, won’t raise the premium as your pet gets older.
- Location — Areas with higher veterinary costs will affect the plan price.
- Coverage type — You will pay more for a comprehensive plan covering wellness care, accidents, and illness.
- Deductible and reimbursements level — You will pay more if you opt for a lower deductible and higher reimbursement rate. For instance, a pet health plan with a 90% reimbursement rate will cost more than one with a lower reimbursement rate.
- Add-ons — Also referred to as riders, add-ons can provide much-needed coverage for conditions such as cancer. Although the addition will increase your monthly premium, it’s often worth it.
- Customization — Pet owners can customize their policy, and purchase only the coverage their pet needs, by adjusting the co-pay, deductible, premium, and riders.
How does pet insurance work?
Most pet insurance plans are reimbursement-based, which means you’ll be reimbursed after you pay the invoice and submit a claim for your pet’s veterinary expenses. A few plans offer direct payment to your veterinarian, so you only have to pay the portion you are responsible for.
Here’s an example of how a typical reimbursement-based pet claim works:
- You take your dog to the veterinarian after he gets into your chocolate stash.
- You pay the veterinary bill.
- You submit a claim to your pet insurance company.
- After your pet insurance company reviews and processes the claim, you are reimbursed.
Although choosing a pet insurance plan for your pet can take a little time and effort, the number of available options means that you can find the perfect fit for your furry friend. By selecting the right coverage, with a premium, deductible, and coverage rate to fit your budget, you can ensure that you never have to make difficult decisions based on finances.