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How To Look For Insurance Options

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How To Look For
Insurance Options

Nov 10, 2021 | pet insurance

How To Look For Insurance Options

Peri Elgrot

Top 10 Pet Insurance Editor

Pet insurance plans can help pet owners save money over a long period of time, so it’s essential to comparison shop and weigh your options.

Dogs and cats give you happiness but expensive vet bills don’t. This is why you need pet insurance. If you’re planning to adopt a pet companion, you initially think only of food, toys, collar, tags, or scratching posts. What pet owners often forget is having an insurance plan to cover their pets. An insurance policy is not essential for survival so it might feel like an unnecessary expense.

However, when your budget is not enough to cover your pet’s medical needs, you will feel like a pet insurance plan is a necessity of life. Different types of insurance plans have different coverage but in general, they cover:

• Illness such as digestive problems, infections, or cancer
• Accident – covers situations when your pet ingests something or gets hit by a vehicle
• Dental work such as gingivitis and root canals
• Genetic and breed-specific conditions such as allergies and hip dysplasia
• Wellness – flea and tick medication, heartworm prevention, dental care, vaccinations, burial and cremation

 

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Are insurance policies all the same?

No. Many pet insurance policies will not cover genetic conditions or breed-specific conditions but there are a few that do provide coverage for them. You need to read and understand the provider’s terms and conditions before you sign a contract. It’s important to not make any assumptions or guesses on the coverage of your policy.

There is one aspect in which pet insurance plans find similarities. Pre-existing conditions are not covered. These are health problems that were diagnosed before you enroll your pet in a policy. However, each insurance provider may have different definitions of pre-existing conditions. Some providers may include them in the coverage if medical records show that the condition has been cured in 6 or 12 months.

When should you apply for an insurance plan?

It’s better to start early when your pet is at a young age. Mathew McCarthy, veterinarian and owner of Juniper Valley Animal Hospital, advises pet owners to get one as soon as possible. If you’re thinking of pet insurance, get one as soon as your pet steps foot in your or immediately after the first vet visit.

McCarthy suggests getting insurance once you bring a pet to your house since, at that age, the chances of the animal having a pre-existing condition are low. If you’re adopting an older pet, practical reasoning would suggest that they will only experience more health issues when they become older. So singing for an insurance plan after finalizing the adoption proves to be a cost-effective move to cover conditions that might develop in the future.

McCarthy also notes that your healthy puppy or kitten could still get injured. If you plan to get insurance, you don’t want to delay it especially if you found the right provider.

How much do pet insurance plans cost?

The more coverage you need, the higher your premiums cost. Pet insurance plans range from $10 to $70 per month and could even go higher. If you pay $10 per month, you possibly have coverage for serious injury only. If you’re paying more, your coverage could include vet visits and medications that your pet regularly takes.

Is pet insurance similar to people’s health insurance?

Pet insurance works almost the same as human health insurance since pets can also develop similar health conditions. Dan Routh, a financial advisor with Old Peak Finance has pet insurance and has benefitted from it more than five times for their 5-year-old German shorthaired pointer, Laney.

Routh’s wife works as a veterinarian and their chosen pet insurance provider is Trupanion.

They chose a high deductible set at $500 to $1,000 so that they can get a lower monthly premium which is the same strategy they employ for their personal health insurance policies. Routh says that they chose a policy that can cover huge emergencies such as cancer or trauma. Most of the claims they made cost $750 to $1,500 and the insurance covered 90% above their deductible. They have only been paying $30 to $45 a month which varies depending on the deductible they have at that period.

 

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Routh mentioned that they filed a claim when they had to remove a cancerous parathyroid nodule with surgery. They discovered the nodule while doing annual blood work and they were surprised with the surgery costing $5,500. At that time they were also trying to buy a house. Their deductible was set at $1000 so their total out-of-pocket fell to $1,450.

According to Routh, people who have enough money to pay for unexpected health emergencies probably don’t need insurance. However, pet owners who do not have a spare thousand dollars for surgery should seriously consider getting one. Routh warned cats and dogs had to be euthanized even though they could be saved because the veterinary bills were too high. When you think you’re ready for a pet, you should take the responsibility to get pet insurance or set aside enough money to self-insure.

One thing you need to remember is that some policies increase premiums when the pet gets older. Although the insurance may start at a low premium, in the end, you might be paying more than what you bargained for. In this scenario, it’s better to save money for an emergency.

Brief Glance at Pet Insurance Providers

This does not include every type of pet insurance, but it offers a quick look at the available options, their costs, and their advantages and disadvantages.

PetFirst Pet Insurance

Cost: $15 a month for dogs; $9 a month for cats

Pros

• Less than 2 weeks to process claims
• 80% reimbursement for covered treatment
• Routine care rider can help with wellness expenses
• Purchase plans anytime

Cons

• Elective procedures not covered
• Preventive care and routine wellness not covered
• Organ transplant not covered

Embrace

Cost: $30 to $40 a month for dogs; $15 to $20 a month for cats

Pros

• Diminishing deductible applied to every policy. Deductibles are reduced by $50 each year your pet doesn’t get sick or get involved in an accident.
• 10% discount for multiple pets enrolled
• 5% military discount (not applicable in Florida, New York, and Tennessee)

Cons

• Although it’s difficult to point true disadvantages, you can check their list of restrictions to see if there are any points that could be a deal-breaker for you.

ASPCA Pet Insurance

Cost: average of $35 a month

Pros

• Optional wellness coverage
• Covers congenital and genetic conditions
• Direct deposit for reimbursements

Cons

• Although it’s difficult to point true disadvantages, you can check their list of restrictions to see if there are any points that could be a deal-breaker for you.

 

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Nationwide

Cost: Start at $35 per month

Pros

• Wellness coverage offered
• Covers exotic pets such as rabbits birds, turtles, and snakes

Cons

• It’s also difficult to point out the negatives with ASPCA. You can check their list of restrictions to see if there are any points that could be a deal-breaker for you.

Petplan Pet Insurance

Cost: $40 a month on average

Pros

• Covers homeopathic and alternative therapies
• Covers online vet visits

Cons

• Routine care not covered. Their website mentions that the policy provides protections from unexpected vet bills for illnesses and injuries.

Healthy Paws Pet Insurance

Cost: start at $25 for dogs and $15 for cats monthly

Pros

• No maximum payout limits
• No caps per incident
• No lifetime caps
• Premiums do not increase as the pet gets older

Cons

• Doesn’t cover preventive care
• Most dental care treatments are not covered