Thank you to Sharon Seltzer, founder of the blog Lessons from a Paralyzed Dog, for contributing this guest blog post.
Did you know that only 1% of pet owners in the United States have insurance for their dogs and cats while 25% of the pets in Europe are insured? Despite being a country that embraces animals, pet insurance has not started off with a bang in the United States.
Part of the reason had to do with early plans that put monetary caps on procedures and had complicated policies and high premiums that increased as your pet aged. Thankfully those issues have been largely resolved, and today pet insurance can be a big benefit for your pets, even if they are handicapped.
All insurance plans have exclusions for pre-existing conditions. However, if your pet has coverage and then becomes disabled due to an injury or illness, they are likely to be covered for diagnostic tests, surgeries, rehab treatments, and even equipment like a wheelchair. And if your pet is already handicapped, pet insurance can be a benefit for future health problems.
Questions Pet Owners Should Ask a Pet Health Insurance Company
There are many pet insurance companies to choose from, so it is important for owners to do research and educate themselves about the coverage provided.
Here are questions you should ask before purchasing a policy:
- Is there one comprehensive plan for all pets?
- Does the policy cover diagnostic tests, surgeries, hospital stays, medications, veterinary supplements, prosthetic devices, and carts? (Yes, the cost of a dog wheelchair is included on some policies.)
- Do they pay 80-90% of the actual costs of a procedure, rather than place a monetary cap on them?
- Are there payout limits?
- Can you arrange for medical bills to be paid directly to your veterinarian?
- Does your policy include treatments at emergency hospitals and with specialty veterinarians, such as orthopedics and neurologists?
- Is a rider policy available for Recovery and Complementary Care so your dog can get rehab therapy or alternative care? (If you have a breed that is prone to IVDD or other spinal conditions or neurological problems, this is additional coverage you might want.)
- Is there out-of-state coverage?
- Is there customer service 24/7?
- Are premiums on a month-to-month basis?
- Can owners choose a deductible that works best for them?
- Can owners change their deductible throughout the year?
Where to Compare Pet Insurance Plans
ConsumersAdvocate.org has put together a list that compares the top 10 pet insurance companies and their plans.
Do your homework! It will be worth the effort.