As a veterinarian, the big question that always comes up in appointments is should someone purchase pet insurance. My answer is always, yes. Pet Insurance while may be something you never use, like with any insurance it helps you financially when you do need it. You may think the monthly payments are expensive and may not be worth it but it also will give you peace of mind that if something does happen you are able to provide care without the financial burden.
I have seen countless animals saved because of pet insurance. Not only are diagnostics able to be performed but I have also seen life-saving surgeries done because the owners have pet insurance. Pet insurance has helped pets have foreign bodies removed, pancreatitis treated and treat cancer, plus much more.
So where can you find the best pet insurance? You can always do a quick google search and multiple different companies will come up. How do you know which one to pick? There are a few things to watch out for when choosing a pet insurance company.
Breed Specific Conditions
Certain breeds are actually prone to different conditions. If your animal’s breed is prone to a condition I would look into the company and see if they will exclude it. If they do you can have rejected claims that they will not cover, leaving you with the bill.
The total cost of coverage per condition
Some conditions can require lifelong medication or even repeat diagnostics which can become costly. If you pet develops a heart condition they may need multiple echocardiograms (ultrasound of the heart) that can cost anywhere from $300-700. It is obviously better to have no cap on the cost that they will cover.
Consider the deductible
Some companies offer lifetime deductibles where each condition has a deductible but once you reach it you reach it for life. This is great, especially if your pet has a chronic condition.
Who pays the vet
Pet insurance does not work like the typical health insurance. You pay the veterinarian and then submit a claim to be reimbursed. There is only one company that pays the vet their portion instead of reimbursing you. The only problem is your veterinarian has to be enrolled in the program. As of right now Trupanion has this feature, but Figo has been stating they may be coming out with this feature soon.
Insure early for the best rate
Many people want to know when the best time is to insure their pet. The best time to get coverage is as soon as you get your pet. The younger the pet, the better the price. Also once they develop a condition if they are not covered then it become a pre-existing condition that the insurance company will not cover.
Always make sure the company will cover medications that are prescribed by your veterinarian. Typically they will not cover routine prescriptions like heartworm prevention.
Sick examination fees
Read the fine print because not all plans cover the exam fee. If you head to an emergency hospital this fee can run anywhere from $100-200. This may not be covered, leaving you with this portion of the bill.
Looking for more coverage then just accident and illness? Many companies will add in a wellness option, but understand that your monthly payment will go up. Add up your typical wellness charges at your veterinarian and see if it is financially worth having that in your coverage or not.
Always remember when getting pet insurance for your pet, there is a waiting period. Once you sign up for pet insurance it typically doesn’t start covering your pet for two weeks.