We recommend pet health insurance to nearly all our clients. It’s a great way to protect yourself financially in the case of an unexpected accident or illness. Generally, the premium payments are low compared with the financial help and peace of mind it can offer. You never know when the unexpected will strike! Approximately one in three dogs and cats must visit the vet due to illness or accident every year.
Today diagnostic, medical and surgical procedures unheard of a few years ago are now commonplace in veterinary practice. Unfortunately, few of us are aware of the true cost of medical or surgical procedures. For example, if a dog eats a rock and needs surgery to remove it, surgery can be in the ball park of $2500. With insurance, the owner would end up paying around $250 for the procedure plus the deductible.
Frequently veterinarians and owners have to decide on alternative diagnostic and treatment plans solely because of costs involved. When an owner has pet health insurance coverage, these types of concerns become a thing of the past.
How does pet insurance work? Differences vs human insurance.
Unlike human health insurance, you pay your veterinarian for the costs up front. This allows you to choose any licensed veterinarian, including specialists and emergency rooms. After submitting your claim, you’ll be reimbursed a percentage of your vet bill based on the details of your plan. The reimbursement usually comes within 1-2 weeks of submitting your claim. Other differences is that many companies offer discounts for multiple insured pets or direct deposits.
What does pet health insurance cover?
Pet health insurance is designed primarily to cover emergency situations. The aim of pet health insurance is to provide for unexpected expenses such as trauma and debilitating disease of advanced age. Coverage typically reimburses for: exams, lab tests, radiographs (x-rays), surgery, hospitalization, and prescription medications.
Long term or chronic diseases are often also covered. However, you need to be careful because some diseases can be considered congenital or hereditary and not all providers will cover them. An example being luxating patellas .
Are there limits to what insurance will cover?
This depends on the plan and policy. There are often limitations on genetic, hereditary or preexisting conditions. Chronic conditions or specific illnesses may require special coverage or wait periods. However, even if one of these conditions are excluded, pet insurance is still of great value.
All companies place a lifetime maximum on how much they will pay for health care over the course of a pet’s life. Each company is different in how those limits are reached. Some insurers place yearly reimbursement limits and others limit reimbursement for each disease.
Similarities include, different levels of coverage available for different premiums. There is also usually a deductible amount to pay, either on each condition or yearly. Premiums tend to increase as the pet gets older. Therefore, it’s generally cheaper to start insuring when your pet is young and healthy than when older and more prone to illness.
Do any companies offer a comprehensive policy?
Along with accident and illness coverage, some companies have additional policies that cover routine health care such as neutering, vaccines, parasite prevention and dental care. Each company has different levels of offerings that correspond to different price premiums. There is great variability on these additions between companies. Be cautious that the extra costs of these additional policies are not more than you would benefit.
What factors may affect premiums?
Certain breeds are more prone to certain medical condition and diseases. For example, skin conditions are extremely common in certain breeds. Insurance companies are aware of these conditions and premiums are set accordingly. Be sure to thoroughly discuss your pet’s breed and predisposed conditions and what exactly will be covered in the event one of these diseases develops.
When I renew the policy, is the premium likely to be increased or coverage restricted because of a diagnosed condition?
This will vary from policy to policy and company to company. We advise that you carefully evaluate what will or will not be covered and what restrictions or premium increases you can expect.
Choosing a provider.
There is an increasing number of companies offering pet insurance, and although competition among providers can be good for the market, it also can become confusing to make an informed decision. All companies have a common goal, to make pet care more affordable, however, they can greatly differ in their policies, processes and prices. The company we currently endorse is Pets Best. Contact us and we would be happy to explain how and why we narrowed the choices to Pets Best.
Also check out the article “20 Questions To Help you Choose a Pet Insurance Provider” .
Modified by Windsor Veterinary Clinic from the original by Ernest Ward, DVM and Lifelearn Inc. (© Copyright 2009)