Pets of all ages need our protection

Active dogs and cats can easily become injured in many different ways and it can happen very quickly. Curious pets often explore things with their mouths, so swallowing objects or ingesting harmful substances can often turn into the need for emergency care.  Then there are all of the different kinds of illnesses that can potentially affect our pets today.

The good news is that veterinary medicine is constantly improving and treatments that were not available before are now standard practice today. The bad news is that quality pet care can come at a very high cost and usually when you are least prepared for it. A pet insurance plan can help you with veterinary bills so you can focus on your pet’s care – not the cost of treatment.

Is pet insurance essential? If you have pets, the one thing you can count on is that they will need veterinary care, from routine check-ups and vaccinations to emergency care or surgery.

Here are the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions concerning pet insurance.

If you are a pet owner you should consider having pet insurance.  Most of us do not have contingency plans for those rainy day emergencies.  Consider this: If your pet becomes sick or injured and the cost for treatment is north of 5 thousand dollars…what would you do?  Having pet insurance provides the answer no matter what the situation.

Keep in mind, just like human health insurance, vet insurance costs can vary based on a variety of factors such as the level of coverage chosen, the breed and age of the animal, plus pre-existing conditions. Pet insurance companies offer different coverage plans so take your time and choose the best plan that fits your needs.

Most pet health insurance plans work by reimbursing you for the cost of veterinary care. After paying the initial cost of your pet’s veterinary visit, you send an itemized receipt to your pet’s insurance company along with a completed claim form. Claims are usually processed within a month and a reimbursement check is sent back to you.

Remember, the amount of your reimbursement depends on your insurance policy details and exclusions, the type of procedure, the cost of that procedure, the allowance per procedure on your policy and your plan’s deductible.

There are basically three types of pet insurance:

Accident Insurance 

There is no way to plan for an accident but you can prevent it from costing you more than you can afford. Accident coverage is the most common type of pet insurance. Every pet health insurance company offers accident coverage, no matter the age of your pet.

Illness Insurance 
Illness coverage is often limited and becomes more expensive as a pet increases in age. It is best to get pet insurance at the youngest age possible to reduce pre-existing condition exemptions and to reduce your monthly cost. Some insurance companies will lock in the monthly premium for coverage when you start your policy early and maintain it throughout the life of your pet. Illness insurance coverage is where you can really benefit over the lifetime of your pet’s insurance policy.

Wellness Insurance 
Wellness coverage for an annual routine exam is a more subjective coverage. Wellness coverage depends on whether you’d rather pay out of pocket for these expenses, or whether you’d rather have wellness insurance as a way to pre-pay for the cost of wellness visits over the course of a year. Keep in mind, a routine annual vet exam can cost upwards of $300 depending on your veterinarian, where you live, and the types of procedures, vaccinations and tests required during an annual exam. This type of coverage might cost a little more, but if your pet lives fifteen years, it will likely be worth it.

Specialized Coverages

Cancer
Pets Best Insurance is the only provider we found that offers a cancer-only policy. It carries an annual coverage of $8,000 with $30,000 in lifetime coverage. This policy covers cancer diagnosis and treatment, exams, blood work, surgeries, medication, and chemotherapy.

For Large Breeds
Large breeds often live shorter lives and medical expenses are often higher than others. Trupanion Insurance provides excellent coverage for large breeds: While they have a higher premium, their higher payout makes them a great match for pet parents with large breeds.

Choosing the right insurance company for your pet.

There are many pros and cons to each pet insurance company. Cost and coverage benefits will vary depending on your pet’s breed, age, health, pre-existing, conditions, hereditary conditions, and individual care needs. Remember, you need to anticipate the kind of care your pet might need, so talk with your veterinarian about what you should plan for as your pet ages. Some breeds are more susceptible to hip and joint problems and cancer. This should be taken into consideration as you shop for plans. Choose the best plan based on the right cost and coverage benefits, not just price alone.

  1. Narrow down your choices.
  2. Contact at least three companies and obtain a quote based on the same information about your pet’s breed, age, health, conditions, and needs. If you have more than one pet, ask about a multi-pet discount. This may help. Have your veterinarian send in each of your pet’s records to the company that you are considering. A company that is truly interested in your business will review your pet’s records and clearly outline any conditions that will be excluded from your pet’s insurance plan (such as pre-existing conditions). They should also identify riders or add-on coverage needed for higher risk conditions for your specific breed. It’s important to know exactly what is and what is not covered when you buy any insurance plan.
  3. Weigh the cost of monthly premiums against the types of coverage offered: accident, illness and wellness, as well as add-ons for special conditions such as cancer or hip dysplasia.
  4. Review plan deductibles and payout percentages that may impact your real out-of-pocket costs.

Note: None of the insurance companies cover pre-existing conditions, but different companies may have different criteria for a pre-existing condition. If you’re not sure, ask. Better to know up front.

Here are the companies that have been rated in the top 10 by consumers. The exact order may change depending on the source you read.

1.  HealthyPaws

  • Consistently #1 in customer satisfaction
  • Chosen by almost 90% of Consumers Advocate visitors
  • Most comprehensive illness and accident coverage
  • Unlimited lifetime benefits + no claim caps!
  • Annual deductible (recommended)
  • Free mobile app & no claims forms

2. Pet Plan

  • In business globally since 1976
  • Fewest restrictions on coverage including hip dysplasia
  • Benefits limited to $22k/yr.
  • Per-condition, per year deductible

3. Trupanion

  • No limitations on illness and accident coverage
  • Great customer service
  • Unlimited benefits
  • Per-condition deductible (good for chronic conditions)

4. Embrace Pet Insurance

  • Illness and accident coverage
  • Optional wellness plan covers spay/neuter surgery
  • Benefits limited to $15k/yr.
  • Annual deductible

5. Petfirst

  • Two plans: Standard & Lifetime
  • Standard plan limits payout per-incident and has many exclusions
  • More expensive Lifetime plan has better coverage with benefits limited to $20k/yr.

6. Pets Best Insurance

  • Hereditary & congenital condition limitations in some states
  • Annual benefits limited to $20k/yr.
  • Reasonably good coverage

7. VPI Pet Insurance

  • AKA Petinsurance.com – Largest brand in the US
  • Reimbursement on benefit schedule (not actual bill)
  • Annual benefits limited to $14k/yr.
  • Wellness coverage & annual deductible

8. Pet Partners

  • AKC affiliated policy
  • Annual benefits limited to $16k/yr.
  • 90% reimbursement

9. ASPCA Pet Health Insurance

  • Per-condition payout limit, but no total cap on payouts.
  • Reimbursement on benefit schedule (not actual bill)
  • Annual benefits limited to $3.5k/yr.
  • Annual deductible & wellness available

10. Pet Premium

  • NEW provider, same underwriter as ASPCA
  • Reimbursement on benefit schedule (not actual bill)
  • Annual benefits limited to $3.5k/yr.
  • Annual deductible & wellness available

Top 10 Companies

  1. HealthyPaws
  2. Petplan
  3. Trupanion
  4. Embrace
  5. Petfirst
  6. Pets Best
  7. VPI Pet
  8. PetPartners
  9. ASPCA
  10. PetPremium