How to Look for Pet Insurance and Selecting the Right Plan for Your Cat or Dog by the ASPCA®Pet Health Insurance Program
Whether you’re a new pet parent or have been with your four-legged friend for years, chances are you’ve had at least one or two visits to the veterinarian.
Some visits are relatively painless and inexpensive, but others can rack up quite the bill if your pet has a serious injury or illness that requires medical attention. In fact, some veterinarian bills can cost thousands of dollars, depending on treatment.
Fortunately, there’s a way to offset the cost of your pet’s medical bills. This brings us to the topic of pet insurance.
What Is Pet Insurance?
After choosing a pet insurance company and getting your pet enrolled in a plan, the policy will provide your pet with coverage in the event they get sick or injured. Your plan will reimburse you for some of the covered cost of the veterinary bill.
However, just like human health insurance, pet insurance comes in a wide variety of plans with different levels of coverage. For instance, some plans won’t cover preventive care, while others will include it. That’s why it’s important to do your homework when picking a pet insurance plan.
How to Look for Pet Insurance
To help simplify the process, we’ve broken down the process of choosing a pet insurance company and a plan into five easy steps.
Step #1 – Set a Monthly Budget
The main idea behind purchasing any type of insurance is that you get the coverage you need for a monthly premium you can afford. That applies to your vehicle, your home, and, yes, your four-legged pal.
Do some simple bookkeeping and determine how much of your budget you can put toward pet insurance. Who knows, it may pay for itself if you find yourself with a sick pet at the veterinarian’s office.
Step #2 – Determine Your Pet’s Healthcare Needs
You know your pet better than anyone. You know their quirks and overall temperament. You know if they’re the type to eat something they’re not supposed to or run recklessly around the house.
You probably also know what kind of health issues your pet may have due to their breed or other factors. For instance, Yorkshire Terriers are predisposed to develop hip dysplasia as they get older. Brachycephalic breeds like Pugs can develop respiratory problems and breathing issues due to their unique snouts.
Considering what you know about your pet, their predisposed conditions, and how they behave, this should give you an idea of their veterinary needs. After all, choosing a pet insurance plan is a process of predicting what your cat or dog will need in the future. Use all the information you know to make an informed decision while keeping your original budget in mind.
Step #3 – Shop for a Plan
By this point in the process, you should have a monthly budget firmly in mind, along with a mental list of your pet’s healthcare needs. Younger pets, of course, are more prone to accidents, while older pets are more prone to age-related conditions.
When shopping for a plan, you’ll find most companies will list what is covered and not covered. For instance, many cover accidents such as swallowed objects, cuts, broken bones, and so forth. Additionally, most pet insurance companies cover a wide variety of major and minor illnesses. Pet insurance plans can also include coverage for hereditary and congenital conditions.
As a savvy shopper and diligent pet parent, it’s vital that you thoroughly review what’s covered and what isn’t. For instance, preventive or dental care services may not be included with a plan, but it may be possible for them to be added on for an additional premium.
For those wondering if pet insurance for pets with disabilities or mobility pet insurance exists, the good news is that it does. Specially-abled pets sometimes need expensive mobility devices such as carts and pet wheelchairs. So, it’s important to read coverage inclusions and exclusions to see if these supplies could be covered by your policy. Medical supplies and devices may be covered by pet insurance if used to aid in treatment for a covered condition. It’s a good idea to ask pet insurance companies about coverage for anything you think your pet might need.
Step #4 – Getting Pet Insurance Plans Quotes and Understanding Them
Your premium is what you’ll pay every month for your pet’s coverage. Besides the monthly premium, you’ll also need to have three key figures in mind. They are:
- The annual deductible
- The annual limit
- The reimbursement percentage
The annual deductible is the amount you must spend before the plan’s reimbursement benefits kick in. Generally speaking, the higher the deductible, the lower the monthly premium you can expect to pay.
The annual limit is the maximum amount in medical expenses that the plan will cover in a given policy year. Most pet insurance plans offer a wide range that starts at around $2,000 and goes all the way up to $10,000.
The reimbursement percentage is the amount the plan will pay you back for medical costs. For instance, if you rack up a $250 veterinary bill, your annual deductible is $100, and the reimbursement percentage of your plan is 90%, you can expect to get reimbursed $135 on covered medical expenses after the pet insurance claim process is complete.
Step #5 – Choosing a Pet Insurance Plan
You may need to tinker with your pet insurance plan to get it down to a monthly premium that works for you and your pet. Once that’s figured out, you can officially move forward with getting your four-legged family member enrolled.
Remember to give the plan one final review before hitting the “buy now” button on the pet insurance carrier’s website. You want to be absolutely sure your pet gets all the coverage they need.
Once your pet is officially enrolled, all that’s left is getting through the standard waiting period (usually a couple of weeks), and your pet insurance plan will be active.
The ASPCA® is not an insurer and is not engaged in the business of insurance. Through a licensing agreement, the ASPCA receives a royalty fee that is in exchange for use of the ASPCA’s marks and is not a charitable contribution.