What is Pet Insurance?
When your pets get sick or injured, a pet insurance saves you money on high vet bills. It is a healthcare policy specifically designed for your pet that reimburses you for certain medical expenses. Unfortunately, in some circumstances, some pet owners have put down their pets because they can’t afford surgery or face the risk of paying high medical care costs when their pets get sick or injured. Having an insurance plan can be a lifesaver and protect you from expensive treatment bills and tragic situations.
Most pet insurance plans will cost a couple of hundred dollars a year which is paid over a monthly schedule. Depending on the plan you choose, you have to direct debit a certain amount of money before the insurance company starts to pay for the claim. It’s different than regular insurance since you do have to pay from your pocket first and then file for a claim with your insurer.
Do note that certain illnesses and pre-existing conditions are not covered by pet insurance plan, so you should read the fine print before considering buying an insurance coverage.
What does Pet Insurance cover?
The coverage depends on your plan and your chosen pet insurance provider. A standard pet insurance covers features such as:
- Kennel and cattery (should your pet need to stay overnight in the vet for recovery)
- Hereditary conditions
- Unexpected illnesses and injuries
- Dental care (i.e. accidents)
- Diagnostic tests
There are some insurers that cover additional common costs like routine exams, however others might include routine exams in the plan for an additional premium. Its always beneficial to do your costings before purchasing any plans. If your pet has a lot of routine exams in a year, then investing in a premium insurance can save you money. However, if your pet only requires a single routine exam per year then it is cheaper to not get a high premium insurance plan.
It is important to check the fine print on your policy since there are exceptions to what pet insurers cover.
What does Pet Insurance not cover?
A standard pet insurance does not cover the following:
- Routine check ups
- Pre-existing conditions
- Preventive treatments
- Behavioural problems
As mentioned above, most of the pet insurers do not cover routine checkups however there are a few that do offer it, but at a premium. The same goes for everything else which has been listed above. For example, some insurers will cover curable pre-existing conditions but not incurable ones. If your pet requires any of these features, then you need to do your research on which pet insurance provides coverage for these costs, either for free or at a premium.
One of the most common things that is not covered under a pet insurance is routine care and wellness. This includes spaying and neutering, annual checkups, vaccinations and more.
Types of Pet Insurance
There are Four Types of Pet Insurance:
- Accident-Only: Accident-only pet insurance covers vet bills but only as a result of unexpected injuries that have occurred within the 12-month policy period. It is the cheapest pet insurance plan and is suitable for minor health issues or accidents.
- Time Limited: Time limited insurance covers each new condition for 12-months and allow users to make a claim for an eligible medical condition up to a specified amount. If the financial limit of this plan is reached within 12-months, then that condition is no longer financed by the insurer in the future and you will be liable to pay for treatment costs.
- Per Condition or Maximum Benefit: Maximum benefit insurance does not have any time limit on claims and typically covers each new medical condition up to the financial limit for as long as the policy remains. Users can claim more than once for a condition. However, once the financial limit is touched, the medical condition becomes pre-existing and is excluded from any future claims. Maximum benefit insurance is a mid-budget option with increasing insurance premiums if your pet is old and likely needs frequent medical care attention.
- Lifetime: Lifetime pet cover pet insurance protects your pet for the entire duration of their life, providing that you renew the plan year after year. All new medical conditions are funded by the insurer to the financial limit on these plans. If the limit is reached during the policy year, then the plan stops covering for that condition until the policy is renewed. Once renewed, the condition is financed again for the year with the financial limits fully reinstated. It is considered to be a premium option and can get expensive according to the age and health of your pets.
When Should You Buy Pet Insurance?
Accidents and injuries can happen anytime and it is beneficial to be insured when such incidents occur. It is recommended that you get your pet insured when they are young. Insurers have a minimum age limit which is usually around 6 weeks – 8 weeks and onwards. This does not mean that insurance for older animals is not worth the cost.
Older animals are more prone to illnesses and injuries which can rack up your medical bills if you are not insured. Save on high medical costs by getting your pets insured before they get sick as a policy may not cover pre-existing condition.
What is an annual deductible for pet insurance?
An annual deductible is a dollar amount that your pet insurance plan may require you to pay from your own pocket towards covered medical care before the insurer begins to contribute towards the medical expenses. Your deductibles will reset every time you renew your policy.
What affects your pet insurance premiums?
There are some factors that insurers use to calculate premiums and they are:
- Species: Insurance for dogs will cost more than cats, with the highest premiums associated to male dogs. Insurances for female cats cost the lowest among both the species.
- Breed: Since larger pets tend to have shorter lifespans and are more prone to health issues, insurance costs more.
- Age: Pets have minimal health issues in their early years and therefore, it is cheaper to insure younger pets.
- Location: Premiums are different across various states and zip codes, with more densely populated areas such as New York city carrying higher insurance costs.
What is the ‘financial limit’ – is this a fixed amount?
A financial limit is the maximum amount your insurer is willing to pay towards veterinary fees during a one-year policy period. There are some insurers that define financial limits for individual conditions, while others apply a limit to the overall veterinary fees. A very small number of insurers offer a combination of both.
Are third-party injuries and damages covered by a pet insurance?
According to the law, the owner of a pet will be responsible for any damage or loss of life caused by the pet. To secure yourself in case of these situations, it is important to have a pet insurance. There are some insurers that provide coverage for third-party damages however, the extent of cover differs. So, make sure you do your research and get a plan that offers a level of coverage that is adequate for your requirements.
How much is Pet Insurance?
Pet insurance costs and premiums vary across different insurers, with many charging higher for additional features. On average, it can cost you somewhere between $25 to $70 for dogs and $10 to $40 for cats a month, depending on the age, breed and location.
Expect to see yearly insurance expense in the range of $300 to $840 for dogs and $120 to $480 for cats.
How To Compare Pet Insurance
Pet insurance comparison has never been so easy as a variety of brands have been compiled in an easy-to-navigate table. Each of these brands have their own separate detailed review that you can go through to get all the necessary information regarding premiums and deductibles, reimbursement, annual limits and more. You can view our top-rated pet insurance companies and compare pet insurance plans to determine which one is better suited to your needs.