Our team at Associated Veterinary Medical Center answers some frequently asked questions about pet insurance, to help you decide if pet insurance is right for you.
Question: What is pet insurance?
Answer: Pet insurance is similar to human health insurance, and covering your pet with a good health insurance plan can provide peace of mind in case your pet experiences an emergency or serious illness. Many plans also include wellness coverage, ensuring your pet receives important preventative care throughout their life. Common pet insurance plans include:
- Accident only coverage — Accident only plans cover emergency issues, such as torn ligaments, broken bones, bite wounds, foreign body ingestion, poisoning, and eye trauma. These plans are typically more affordable than other plans, and can be a good option for pets who have a pre-existing condition for which coverage is unavailable.
- Accident and illness coverage — Accident and illness plans are the most comprehensive pet insurance, covering accidents, as well as conditions such as cancer, arthritis, urinary tract infections, allergies, ear infections, and obesity. Most companies limit their illness coverage as pets age, which makes getting your pet insured while they are young important, to prevent pre-existing condition exemptions.
- Wellness coverage — A pet wellness plan typically covers fees for annual exams, spay and neuter procedures, routine blood panels, heartworm testing, fecal testing, vaccinations, teeth cleanings, and flea and tick treatments.
Q: How do I benefit from pet insurance?
A: Pet insurance can be beneficial for you and your pet. The benefits include:
- Pet insurance can save you money — Pet care can be expensive, and if your pet experiences an emergency or receives a chronic diagnosis, veterinary bills can add up quickly. A good pet insurance plan will ensure you recoup a large percentage of these costs.
- Pet Insurance can help provide financial peace of mind — Making health care decisions for your pet can be difficult. Having pet insurance can help remove the financial concerns from clinical decisions regarding your pet’s care.
- Pet insurance can help you manage your annual veterinary budget — If you have budgeted a specific amount for your annual veterinary costs, pet insurance can help ensure these costs don’t get unmanageable if an emergency or illness occurs.
Q: How do I choose the right pet insurance?
A: Pet insurance plans vary widely. In general, it is key to purchase a plan when your pet is young and healthy. Research plans based on cost and coverage benefits. Ensure you know if your pet is susceptible to any health issues, such as hip and joint problems or cancer, before deciding on a policy. Steps to take to find the best policy for your pet include:
- Research — Investigate several companies, and determine your top three candidates. A number of our team members have benefited from pet insurance. We would be happy to share our experiences and provide recommendations.
- Obtain quotes — Contact companies, and obtain a quote based on your pet’s breed, age, health, and special needs. If you have more than one pet, ask about their multi-pet plans.
- Send in records — Have your pet’s veterinary records sent to the companies so they can review the records and clearly explain any conditions that may be excluded from your pet’s insurance plan.
- Compare costs — Compare each company’s monthly premiums against the coverage type provided.
- Consider deductibles and payout percentages — These factors may impact your out-of-pocket costs.
Q: What criteria must I consider when choosing pet insurance?
A: Choosing a pet insurance company can be difficult, but criteria to help you decide the right company include:
- Company stability — Ensure the company is stable and will be able to pay if you submit a claim. AM Best rates insurance companies’ financial stability, to help consumers choose a stable company.
- Public opinion — Look for reviews to ensure the public is pleased with the company’s performance. You can also reference reputable reports, such as this one by US News & World Report, that gather opinions from a large number of pet insurance holders.
- Claim repayment reputation — It’s important to know that pet insurance differs from human insurance in that claims are submitted by the pet owner and then reimbursed directly. Ensure the company makes claim submission easy, and that they pay claims promptly.
- Frequency of veterinary visits — If your pet is accident prone, look for a policy that pays claims with an annual deductible, as opposed to a per-incident deductible.
Q: Does pet insurance allow me to visit any veterinarian?
A: Most pet insurance companies allow you to choose your veterinarian, and do not limit you to a specific practice network.
Q: Can I get pet insurance for my senior pet?
A: Most companies allow you to obtain coverage for your pet at any age, but we recommend that you sign up your pet as young as possible, to avoid age- and health-related exemptions. In addition, some companies may limit or not offer coverage for senior pets.
Please let us know if you have any questions! Our team would be happy to share our experiences with pet health insurance and provide policy recommendations.