Thanks to advances in veterinary medicine, our pets live longer, healthier lives. Even when a pet is burdened by a serious illness or injury, technology has helped save the lives of many pets and supported their quality of life into older age. The dark side of this happy news is that the cost to support a pet’s health and medical needs has increased tremendously. Pet insurance, if carefully selected, can help reduce the financial burden of routine pet care and medical care required in an emergency.
Types of Pet Insurance
Different types of pet insurance plans serve different purposes and needs. Three broad categories of insurance for pets are:
Insurance for wellness care alone
Insurance for well care plus illness and emergency
Emergency care only
Within these categories you will choose things like a deductible, amount and limit (dollar amount cap) of coverage for different types of veterinary services. Some plans will cover routine preventative care and medications.
Tips for Evaluating a Pet Insurance Plan
Every company providing pet insurance does things differently and it may be hard to compare plans evenly. So, be aware of the “apples to oranges” dilemma when trying to compare plans.
Read the fine print: What is excluded? What type of pre-existing conditions or treatments will not be covered? In what situation will you have a co-pay or co-pays of differing amounts for different medical situations?
Be sure your preferred veterinarian or animal hospital is in the care network for the plan.
Research the insurance carrier: Read online reviews, check with consumer reports or consumer protection for problems that have been reported.
Identify how you will be reimbursed by the carrier: Will it be a percentage of a bill from the veterinarian or is there a schedule of allowances (e.g., so many well-care visits each year, a cap on emergency services, etc.)
Ask the carrier about discounts. Some veterinary offices work with certain insurance providers and may offer a discount. Some pet insurance plans are offered through a larger insurance company and you might get a discount for being an existing customer for your home insurance, for example. Other types of discounts can come through employers, senior citizen discounts, and affiliation with non-profit organizations or professional organizations. Inquire about discounts for enrolling more than one pet.
Enroll your pet while they are young for the best rates.
8 Pet Insurance Tips in greater detail
How to Find the Best Pet Insurance Options (U.S. News and World Reports, Money section)