Keeping your pets healthy can become very expensive for some types of illnesses and conditions. Certain chronic diseases require repeated visits to the vet and the costs can mount very quickly. Pet insurance provides protection against such expenses along with peace of mind that you are covered in case something goes wrong.
Pet insurance policies can vary widely in terms of cost and what is covered. With a little diligent shopping and comparing, you should be able to find a good deal that will provide high value for your money.
What pet insurance covers
Generally pet insurance policies will provide cover for up to 80 percent of eligible vet bills due to illness or injury. If the policy includes excess, then you must pay that upfront for each condition. For example, if you have a $400 excess, you must pay this once if your pet should be injured. If the same injury requires multiple treatments, you will not be required to pay another excess for the rest of the policy year.
Policies differ in what they cover and often you will be able to choose the specific types of protection that you desire. Insurance plans can include the following types of cover:
- Accident and Illness
- Preventative care including treatment for parasites
- Emergency care including hospitalization
- Up to 80 percent of eligible vet bills
- Travel, if you take your pet on holiday domestically or internationally
When comparing pet insurance offers, you must carefully consider what is covered in addition to the price.
Another important consideration in comparing policies is the dollar amount of each specific type of cover. For example, a pet insurance company may cover claims up to $15,000 a year. Anything more than this must be paid for by the policy holder.
Some policies will also have limits on claims for specific types of cover, so you should really read the fine print to know exactly what you are getting. For example, one policy may offer to cover 75 percent of vet bills for accidents while another will cover 90 percent of these bills.
Exceptions to coverage
Another reason to carefully read over the terms of a pet insurance policy is to find what exceptions to cover are included. For example, if you have different types of pets, will they all be covered by your insurance policy?
Most insurance plans will at least provide protection for dogs and cats, but you will need to check for other species.
Even if something is covered by your plan, there may be exceptions that apply. For example, the policy may not cover injuries if they occur when you are driving your pet around without proper safety precautions.
Some pet insurance plans will not cover any conditions that existed prior to the plan’s commencement. Other policies may cover some, but not all pre-existing conditions. If you to want ensure that all pre-existing conditions are covered, you must check to see if this is included in the plan.
Some insurance policies may require that all pets covered have proper vaccinations before they can qualify for cover. There may also be a minimum age requirement, for example, many plans will only accept pets that are at least eight weeks old.
In addition to the minimum age limit, there may also be an upper limit for pets to be accepted for cover. Generally, insurance companies do like to cover very young or very old pets because they pose greater financial risks due to the higher likelihood of health problems.
However, most insurance policies will not drop old pets if they are already covered. For this reason, it is a good idea to acquire insurance before your pet reaches nine years of age.
Things to check for when comparing pet insurance plans
Here is a checklist of items to look for when comparing one insurance policy to another.
- What is and what is not covered by the insurance plan
- How much cover in dollars is offered for each specific type of treatment
- What exceptions apply to the cover offered
- What are the requirements to qualify for cover
- When does the policy start and when can I make a claim
- Can I use my own vet?
Reputation and quality
Generally, it is a good idea to do some research on a company to know what kind of service they offer. While an offer may look good in terms of price, the monetary savings may not be worth the headache you encounter when it comes time to make a claim.
The first thing to check for is the underwriter of the insurance. The underwriter is the financial company behind the insurance plan. Make sure that the underwriter is established and has a good reputation. While newer companies can often offer great deals, you are taking some risk because they will not yet have a proven record of success over many years.
Insurance comparison websites
Some websites allow you to compare different insurance plans including pet insurance. You can find insurance comparison sites by searching on the major search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing.
Comparison sites will generally allow you to search for insurance plans using keywords or to browse through different categories of insurance plans. In addition, these sites may allow you to sort and filter search results. For example, you could sort results by lowest to highest price.
Probably the best way to compare policies is to get advice from those who have used or are using certain insurance plans. Some comparison websites will offer user and/or site ratings and reviews of insurance plans.
Another option is to ask people in your personal network like family, friends and co-workers for their recommendations on pet insurance options. You can also ask if they have any experience with a specific pet insurance policy that interests you.
By doing a little research and carefully reading over different plans, you will be able to make a sensible and informed decision on your pet insurance.
- How To Sensibly Compare Pet Insurance
- Pet Insurance: What Should I Compare?
- Pet Insurance Danger Areas: Percentage Excess Fees
- What Does Pet Insurance Cover?
- Should You Get Pet Insurance?
This article is opinion only and should not be taken as financial advice.
Filed Under: Pet Insurance