Owning a pet can be very expensive. Food, grooming and vet bills all add up quickly. So when a veterinary emergency occurs, paying for it can become stressful. Pet insurance can be a way to help pay for emergency costs, but it is it the right option for you?
What is pet insurance?
Pet insurance is a little different than human health insurance. With most pet insurance companies routine care (like vaccines) is not covered. However emergency visits, accidents or illness and their treatments are covered. With pet insurance, when the emergency or illness happens you take your animal to the vet and receive treatment, pay out of pocket and file a claim.The insurance company will then reimburse you for what you are covered for.
What should I look for when choosing a pet insurance provider?
- How much coverage do you have?
- There are various levels of coverage available. If you choose 50% coverage you pay less monthly. So for your $2,000 emergency visit you will only get a $1,000 reimbursement. A higher monthly payment means more coverage.
- How long will reimbursement take?
- Reimbursement could take one week or it could take up to a few months. Find an insurance with shorter time frame to prevent a financial headache.
- Can you use any licensed veterinarian?
- Some pet insurance companies will only reimburse you for visits at certain veterinarians. This could be a problem if you travel or your vet is not on that list.
- What is covered?
- Some insurances cover everything, some only cover parts of treatment. For example some companies will not cover diagnostics (blood tests,x-rays, etc) . Most insurances will cover medications for treatment of an illness or condition. Some even cover alternative therapies (like acupuncture) and behavioral counseling.
- What is a pre-existing condition?
- By most definitions a pre-existing condition is any non- curable condition your pet has prior to getting insurance. However some companies and plans will consider conditions your pet is predisposed to as pre-existing conditions. For example if you have a breed of dog prone to hip dysplasia (like German Shepherds), treatment of hip dysplasia will not be covered because this is a pre-existing condition.
Pet insurance can be a very good option if you have a pet who likes to get into things, or just to be on the safe side.There are about 10 companies offering pet insurance in the U.S., so you have many options in choosing the right plan for you and your pet. It is best to start pet insurance as soon as you get a new pet to limit the amount of pre-existing conditions. While choosing pet insurance, always make sure to read your contract closely so you can be aware of what will and will not be covered.