Chances are, you love your pet as a family member and you would do anything for them. If they get sick, the vet bills can climb quickly. In some cases, a single illness or injury could amount to over $10,000 in medical bills. You do not want to find yourself in the position of having to make a decision about their medical care based on finances.
We can plan and budget for annual routine wellness costs such as annual exams and vaccines, but the unexpected illnesses or accidents are what end up giving us, and our bank account, a slap in the face. This is why having pet insurance can be a good idea.
PEOPLE OFTEN HAVE MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT PET INSURANCE BECAUSE THEY ASSUME IT IS LIKE HUMAN HEALTH INSURANCE. BELOW ARE 7 POINTS THAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN ORDER TO MAKE AN INFORMED DECISION ABOUT PET INSURANCE.
1. There are no provider networks or specific veterinarians that you have to select from. You can pretty much have your pet cared for by any veterinarian you chose.
2. When you file a claim, you pay the whole vet bill up front. The insurance company then reviews the claim and if deemed covered under your policy, reimburses you minus your deductible. The details of what types of medical conditions are covered and how much you are reimbursed vary by company and plan.
3. Preexisting conditions are usually not covered. This is why it’s important to get your pet on a plan while they are young. When you apply for a plan, the company will request medical records from your veterinarian so they are aware of any previous medical conditions.
4. Some plans insurance companies cover routine care (annual exams, vaccines, teeth cleaning) while others do not. The companies that do cover routine care and/or alternative therapies may charge extra for this coverage.
5. There is usually a 14-30 day waiting period from the time when you start a plan until you can make a claim. The waiting period is sometimes shorter if your pet sustains an injury soon after starting the plan.
6. Some companies offer a sliding scale, from high premium/low deductible to low premium/high deductible and options in-between. This allows flexibility of the cost to have your pet covered. Companies differ in their payout maximums, some do not have a maximum. The way deductibles are paid can also vary between companies.
7. Some companies will pay out based on YOUR actual vet bill. Others will pay out on PREDETERMINED COSTS of veterinary services. In this case your reimbursement may be less than you think.*These statements apply to most pet insurance plans. There may be some plans that have different requirements than are listed above.
Is it worth it to have health insurance for your pet? If your pet has no medical issues for its lifetime then, you could say it’s not worth it. But if your pet has a major accident or illness, or develops a chronic medical condition, then having insurance could save you a ton of money and make it possible for your pet to receive all the care they need. The problem is, it’s impossible to know if our pets are going to have an accident or develop an illness. Pet insurance can give you peace of mind in knowing that if your pet does get sick, you can afford to get the care they need.
Every pet insurance company is different. Make sure you do your research before selecting a plan. A great resource to use is www.petinsurancereview.com. Click on pet insurance 101 to get a comparison of insurance companies. From there you can research specific companies further.
Danielle Rope, DVM, MPH