11 Things you need to consider before choosing a Pet Insurance

Pet insurance covers pet health care costs just like health insurance covers people’s medical costs.  If you are looking for pet insurance, it can be difficult to know which plan is best for you and your pet.  The most insured pets are dogs and cats, as they can be expensive to treat, and they are the most common pet.  But it’s not a bad idea to consider pet insurance for other pets, either.  Pet insurance helps reduce the financial risk of unexpected veterinary costs.  The right coverage plan can buy you invaluable peace of mind, and enable you to do the right thing for your dog or cat.

How does pet insurance work?

  On a monthly basis, pet insurance works like renter insurance.  You pay a monthly premium to your insurance company for coverage.  Your document will specify the terms/expenses that are covered, your repayment rate, your deductible, and the maximum payment (or annual limit).

  Most pet health insurance plans reimburse you, as the policyholder, rather than paying the vet directly.  This means that you don’t have to worry about finding an “in-network” vet and can take advantage of your coverage at any licensed veterinary clinic or animal hospital in the United States.

  Pet insurance policies are more worthwhile for some than others.  A policy that covers general pet wellness and preventative care may not make economic sense, but a policy that covers accidents and illnesses may be a good move for pet owners who may have trouble covering their huge vet bill if their pet suddenly becomes ill or becomes ill.

  There are literally hundreds of different pet insurance providers out there, so finding the right policy can be a stressful process.  It’s even more confusing when pet insurance companies use vague usage terms for new pet owners.  That is the purpose of this article, to give you pet insurance advice and help you understand exactly what you are paying for.

What factors can affect your pet insurance coverage?

  Several factors can affect your pet’s insurance coverage – and pre-existing conditions are one of them.  For many pet insurance providers, the condition is considered pre-existing at the time the signs are noticed, rather than at the time of diagnosis.  This means that if your pet shows signs of illness or injury before it became insured, the condition may not be covered.

 It’s important to keep in mind that most pet insurance policies also have waiting periods – anywhere from a few days to a month – before full coverage begins.  And your best bet is to secure your pet as soon as possible to make sure it qualifies for the most coverage.

  Pet insurance premiums are not one-size-fits-all.  Your monthly premium will depend on several factors, including your provider, discount, location, and of course your pet.  His breed, age, pre-existing health conditions, and risk factors play a role in determining what you will pay each month to maintain his coverage.  Like human health insurance premiums, this amount can also change from year to year.

Why would anyone need a pet insurance?

  As veterinary medicine continues to advance, companion animals live longer than ever – and pet insurance is a great way to prepare for the care they’ll need along the way.  If insurance isn’t the right option for you, there are a number of other ways to budget for these costs.  Consider researching how much you’ll pay for your monthly insurance premium and add that amount to a savings account instead, or set aside a personal credit card to help with large or unexpected veterinary expenses.

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Things you need to consider before choosing a pet insurance

1.    Payment limits

  A few plans don’t specify how much you’ll pay for covered treatments, but most plans have maximum payments.  Here is where you need to read the policy language carefully.  There may be a payment limit for the year, the life of your pet, or some type of accident or condition.  Or there may be a combination of covers.

2.    Deductibles

  The deductible is the amount you pay out of pocket before the insurance company starts paying.  Under some pet insurance plans, the deductible applies annually.  Once you pay the deductible for your covered treatment, the plan begins to reimburse you.  The withholding amount is reset upon renewal of the policy each year.

  Under some other plans, a deductible per accident applies.  Once you pay the deductible for treatment of a specific injury or illness, the plan reimburses you for the policy limits, even in later plan years.  What is the downside?  If your pet develops a few different medical problems in one year, pay the deductibles for each one.

3.    Dental coverage

  Take a closer look at the type of dental cover included on your policy.  Dogs and cats can accumulate expensive dental bills, and unfortunately, this is not always covered by your policy.  Some policies will only include any dental work required as a result of an accident, while others will offer more comprehensive coverage.  Check lowercase to make sure it is included and what exactly is not.

4.    Pre-existing condition definition

  Pet insurance plans do not cover pre-existing conditions, but the definition of “pre-existing” varies.  In most cases, the pre-existing condition is a medical problem that was evident in your pet prior to purchasing the policy.  However, some plans will cover previous cases that have been treated for a certain number of months.

5.    Third party liability coverage

  In general, when we think of pet expenses, we think of vet bills, toys, food, and even the insurance itself.  Third-party liability coverage is important, even if you don’t really need it with any luck.  It covers if your pet damages someone else’s property, or causes injury to another person.

  It’s important that you make sure your policy includes this because some cases are known to run into hundreds of thousands of damages – which you’ll be liable for if you don’t have insurance.  Know that most insurance companies will ask you if your pet has had any potentially dangerous “accidents” in the past, and may use this to exclude you from third-party cover – which is why it’s important to get it right from the start.

6.    Exclusions

  Besides pre-existing conditions, some plans exclude coverage for certain diseases and conditions.  For example, some insurance companies do not cover hip dysplasia, a genetic disorder in which the hip joint fails to develop normally; it is common in large dogs but can also be found in cats.

7.    Waiting periods

  Pet insurance plans have waiting periods until coverage begins after enrollment.  Typically, accident injury coverage begins within a day or two.  The waiting period for disease coverage is usually longer – 14 days or more.  There may also be waiting periods ranging from several months to a year or more for orthopedic problems.  In such cases, if your pet needs treatment during that crucial time period, the plan will pay nothing.

8.    Cost and value

  There is no point in buying a pet insurance policy just because it is cheap if it does not cover your pet’s needs.  Are you interested in wellness, medical care or total care?  Your monthly premium and reimbursement amount will vary based on the type of coverage and deductible you choose.

  Deductibles are worth considering: A per-accident deduction applies to each incident and can reduce your monthly premium.  A lower annual discount will result in a higher premium while a higher discount will result in a lower premium.  However, don’t base your purchase on cost alone.  While a lower premium might sound great, you don’t want to dictate how many benefits you’ll get when you really need them.

9.    Reimbursement levels

  Pet insurance plans reimburse a percentage of the treatment costs.  You can choose the level of reimbursement when purchasing the policy, such as 70%, 80% or 90%.  Read the details of how the payment works.  Some plans reimburse you a percentage of your vet’s bill.  Others will reimburse you for a percentage of the “usual and customary fee” for the treatment.  Any amount billed by your vet above is your responsibility.

10. Registration Rules

  A healthy young pet will be eligible for any plan, but some plans will not allow you to register older pets.  In general, puppies and kittens should be 6 to 10 weeks old minimum, depending on the insurance company.  Although some plans have no maximum age limits, many cut first-time enrollment at 10 to 14 years old.  Although, once you sign up, most plans will provide lifetime coverage for as long as you continue to pay the premiums.

  Some plans also require your pet to have seen a vet in the past year, or will require your pet to undergo an examination before they sell you the insurance policy.

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