What You Should Know Before you Decide?
For many new fur-parents (and some seasoned pet owners) the subject of pet insurance can be a source of stress and anxiety. Just like any type of insurance, it can be overwhelming and confusing. We are here to help you navigate all the ins and outs so you know what you may be getting yourself into and what to look for in a potential plan. Here are the most important things to consider when shopping for pet insurance.
Pet insurance Varies from Plan to Plan.
Do your research. Be informed. Find out what will be covered on a specific plan and what will not before you sign on. The more expensive plans tend to offer more coverage. As with most things, you get what you pay for. Ask important questions like:
What exactly will be covered under my plan?
Most providers currently cover accidents, hereditary conditions, and illnesses. Note that it is important to be specific with your questions about a particular plan. Some
companies offer riders, or add-ons, for conditions not covered under a specific plan. This means if you’ve chosen a plan that does not cover cancer, you may have the option to add a cancer rider for an additional premium cost. Make sure to read the fine print.
What will not be covered under my plan?
Know which potential issues will not be included under your insurance! This is vital for choosing the best plan for your pet. These are some services and conditions that are commonly omitted from coverage. Any preexisting conditions are often not covered.
Some gray areas that tend to vary plan-to-plan are:
- Dental issues
- Hip dysplasia
- Exam fees
- Yearly wellness exams
If you have a purebred dog, many plans will not cover conditions linked to your specific breed of dog, such as hip dysplasia in large breeds or back problems in dachshunds. These issues may also be covered under a rider option.
Covered Costs Will Not Be Paid Up Front.
You are likely in the habit of paying only your copay when you visit your doctor, and the practice bills your insurance company for their portion. This is one way your furry friend’s pet insurance differs from yours. Even with pet insurance, it is common practice for your Veterinary Clinic to bill you for all services rendered. After that bill has been paid, you may then submit a claim to your insurance provider, they will mail you a reimbursement.
You Can Customize Your Insurance Plan to Fit Your Specific Needs
Not all insurance companies will let you cherry-pick your coverage, but some are more are more willing to negotiate coverage than others. This is where riders or conditional add-ons come into play. Predictably, the more a specific plan covers, the more your premium will likely cost. Factors to consider here are:
The price of your deductible
How much are you comfortable paying out of pocket before insurance kicks in to reimburse further expenses? Most insurance companies have deductible tiers, such as Low, Mid-range, and High. Generally speaking, high deductibles equal low premiums and vice versa.
Your annual limit and potential payout
Selecting a high annual limit allows the possibility to get reimbursed each year, where a low limit allows you to pay less in premium costs. This reimbursement if your possible payout. However, most companies cap payouts at a specific dollar amount, but some allow the customer to choose their cap. As with any deductibles, there are tiers: Low, Mid-range, and High. The higher the insurance company’s payout percentage, the higher your monthly premium.
The price of your premium
This is how much you will pay annually (some companies allow customers to set up a monthly payment plan). As explained above, the higher your premium, the higher your payout cap can be set. The price of your premium depends on whether your pooch has been spayed or neutered, his age, and your location.
Preventative care coverage
Is it important to you to be fully or partially reimbursed for check-ups, flea/tick/heart worm prevention and/or dental cleanings?
Deductibles May Vary
The conditions of your deductible may be annual, per visit, or per issue or incident. An annual deductible means, that paid your portion for the year, any additional fees are covered by your pet’s insurance plan. Per issue or incident means you pay for a certain issue or ailment one time, and additional visits for the same problem are covered.
The Age and General Health of Your Pet Matters
Normally the rule of thumb regarding age is:
The Younger the Pet, the More Sense it Makes To Insure.
Generally, purchasing health insurance on a young, healthy puppy makes the most sense. The premiums tend to increase as your dog ages, and the younger they are, the more curious and accident prone they statistically are. One rookie mistake could easily make a good insurance plan pay off.
Older Pets Cost More to Insure.
This concept is relatively simple and straightforward. The older the dog, the higher the likelihood of him developing conditions like cancer, diabetes, or arthritis. Some insurance companies have an “age out” policy, where beyond a certain point, coverage is no longer possible. Also, if you have an senior dog who has not had coverage in the past, any condition deemed preexisting will not typically be covered. Especially when you are trying to insure an aging pet look very closely to what is covered and what they consider preexisting.
The Company’s Reputation Matters
It is vital to take the time to seek out online reviews, we recommend you take a look at what people have to say on the Better Business Bureau and Yelp. After reading through some of their reviews and sometimes the insurance company responses it quickly becomes clear what their strong and weak points are. The pet insurance business is a hot item and in recent years many new companies are offering pet insurance.
Ask neighbors, family, or friends their feelings regarding their pet insurance company. Some good questions to ask are:
Is the company fair in its reimbursements when you file a claim?
Do they have a waiting period after signing on before certain conditions are covered?
What is the percentage increase per year for your pet as the age?
Are they expedient in reimbursing claims?
Are they difficult to deal with? (This is not an issue that would typically come to mind when shopping for pet insurance, but it will matter to you when you’re waiting on hold with them FOR THE FIFTH TIME)
Unfortunately, the truth is that any type of insurance plan is always a bit of a gamble. Your pet may end up leading a relatively accident and disease-free life (knock on wood) and you will have spent a good chunk of money on peace of mind in case he didn’t. When you think about it, that really is the best case scenario. Wouldn’t you rather your pup remain the healthy, care-free dog he is than lead a life of ailments you struggle to pay for?
We’ve covered all the major factors to consider when choosing a pet insurance policy. Hopefully, reading through this list has given you an idea of what questions to ask your fur-provider and makes navigating the world of pet insurance a little less daunting.