How To Find The Best Pet Insurance Company For You
The costs and types of pet insurance plans available on the market vary by company, making choosing one over the others challenging. To find the best plan for your pet, consider these tips before applying for coverage:
Check Whether Your Pet Is Eligible
Puppies and kittens often must be a minimum of 6 to 10 weeks old to be insured, depending on the company. Senior pets may not be eligible for first-time enrollment with some companies, or they may qualify for accident coverage only. Once the pet is enrolled, though, most plans will offer coverage for life as long as you continue paying the premiums.
Research What’s Covered
Pet insurance plans typically cover expenses like surgery, hospitalization and medication if your pet gets sick or hurt. However, there are certain things that some companies charge extra for or won’t cover at all. Here are a few examples:
- Exam fees. Say your dog breaks her leg. Some plans will reimburse expenses like X-rays, surgery and pain medication, but not the vet’s exam fee.
- Alternative treatments and rehabilitation. Some companies include coverage for things like acupuncture and physical therapy in their standard plans. Others charge extra.
- Behavioral therapies. Not all policies cover veterinary treatment for aggression or other behavioral issues.
- Prescription food. Certain plans won’t cover food or supplements at all, even if your vet prescribes them for a covered condition.·
- Dental care. Pet insurance plans vary widely when it comes to caring for your pet’s teeth. For example, your policy may not cover dental illnesses such as gingivitis or periodontal disease. Alternatively, it may cover them only if your pet has had a recent tooth cleaning. Some add-on wellness plans pay for cleanings.
Note that pet insurance policies usually won’t cover pre-existing conditions, cosmetic procedures, or breeding expenses.
Decide How Much Coverage You Want
Most pet insurance plans cap the amount they pay out per year, although some have no annual limit. Only you can decide the amount that gives you reasonable peace of mind for paying vet bills.
If your dog or cat is relatively healthy, you might go years without paying for anything
but routine care. But an unexpected surgery or serious illness could add up to
thousands of dollars in expenses.
Understand Reimbursements And Deductibles
Most pet insurance plans reimburse you for a percentage of your vet bill. You can generally choose a reimbursement level — such as 70%, 80% or 90% — when you buy the plan.
Other plans pay what the insurance company deems a standard fee for a given treatment,
which might be less than what your vet charges. You’d be responsible for the remainder.
Most plans also have a deductible — the dollar amount you pay out of pocket before the policy pays. You can usually choose from a range of deductibles, such as $100, $250, or more. Some plans apply deductibles to each injury or illness that’s treated. Most have you pay the deductible every year.
Generally, the lower your out-of-pocket costs are, the more you’ll pay for coverage. Alower deductible and higher reimbursement rate can lead to a higher premium, while a higher deductible and lower reimbursement rate can mean a lower premium.
Check Waiting Periods
Most plans include short waiting periods after you purchase the policy for general accident and illness coverage, such as 14 days. Your plan won’t pay for any treatment during the waiting period.
Some plans include longer waiting periods for coverage of certain conditions, such as cruciate ligament injuries — a common orthopedic problem for dogs. The cruciate ligaments help stabilize the knee; when injured, it can make it difficult for a dog to walk.
Examine Extra Costs
Some pet insurance companies offer coverage for routine services such as well visits and vaccinations. While this may sound tempting, do the math to determine whether it’s worth the extra cost. Compare the annual price of the wellness insurance plan with the amount you’d pay each year on your own for services the plan covers. Read the details because the items covered for “wellness” vary by pet insurance company.
The cost of insurance varies by carrier and the amount of coverage. Some pet insurers offer discounts; you might be able to save money by insuring more than one pet, for example. But a discount doesn’t guarantee the plan is the best deal.
The only way to find the best insurance for your pet is to dig into the details and get quotes for several plans. Make sure you’re making a fair comparison with similar coverage amounts, deductibles, and reimbursement limits.