How To Buy Pet Insurance (A Complete Guide)

We all love our pets, they’re practically family! But keeping them healthy can be expensive. Did you know that many pets need emergency vet care every year, costing thousands of dollars? If you can’t imagine saying no to treatment, then pet insurance might be a good option. This article will help you find the right pet insurance plan by explaining what to consider when comparing companies and how to get covered. We’ll even give you a rundown of the best pet insurance providers out there. So relax, put your feet up, and keep reading!

The most common type of pet insurance is accident and illness coverage. This plan is like a safety net for your furry friend. If your pet gets hurt (like in a car accident) or sick (like with cancer), this plan will help pay for the vet bill. It’s like health insurance for people, but for pets!

Accident & Illness Coverage

It’s important to note that most pet insurance won’t cover pre-existing conditions, which are illnesses your pet had before getting insured. However, some companies might cover pre-existing conditions if they’ve been treated and your pet has been healthy for a while (the exact timeframe depends on the company).

Looking for affordable pet insurance?

Accident-only plans might be an option, even for pets with health issues. However, they only cover vet bills caused by accidents, like bites, broken bones, or swallowing something bad. This type of plan wouldn’t help with illnesses like cancer, which can be very expensive.

Another option is a wellness plan.

Think of it as a savings account for your pet’s routine care, like checkups, shots, and teeth cleaning. These plans usually start right away and don’t have deductibles (money you pay upfront before insurance kicks in). They can help you manage or save on yearly costs, but weigh the hassle of filing claims against the potential savings.

Think about your pet’s health history

Most pet insurance won’t cover chronic illnesses your pet already has, like allergies or diabetes. This is because they can’t predict how much those will cost to treat. However, some companies might cover conditions that were temporary, like an ear infection, as long as your pet is fully recovered by the time your insurance starts.

There are a few other things to keep in mind:

  • Waiting period: There’s usually a waiting period before your pet’s covered for anything, even accidents. Some companies also have a longer wait for pre-existing conditions, even if they were cured.
  • Conditions on both sides: Some plans won’t cover a problem on one leg, for example, if your pet already had the same issue on the other leg before getting insurance. This is because some conditions tend to affect both sides of the body.
  • Healthy pets: If your pet is young and healthy, you probably don’t need to worry too much about how the company handles pre-existing conditions.

When to compare plans carefully

If your pet has had health problems before, it’s important to compare how different insurance companies handle pre-existing conditions. The best ones will have:

  • A short waiting period for conditions that were cured.
  • No rule excluding coverage for a condition on one side of the body if the other side was affected before enrolling.
  • Coverage for chronic conditions after a waiting period (although this is less common).

Here’s the paragraph rewritten in a more human-friendly way:

Understanding your pet insurance policy

The way your pet insurance is set up will affect how much you pay for your pet’s care. Let’s break down some key things to consider:

  • Deductible: This is the amount you have to pay upfront before your insurance kicks in. The higher the deductible, the lower your monthly payment (premium) will be. There are usually different deductible options to choose from.
  • Coverage limits: Most plans have a yearly limit on how much they’ll pay out for your pet’s care. Some plans may offer unlimited coverage, but these will typically cost more.
  • Reimbursement: This is the percentage of the bill you’ll get back after you’ve paid your deductible. It can range from 50% to 100%. The higher the reimbursement, the less you’ll pay out of pocket, but the more expensive your premium will be.
  • Getting paid: Some companies reimburse you directly after you file a claim, while others pay your vet directly. Also, some companies process claims faster than others.
  • Add-ons: Some basic plans might not cover everything, like check-ups or alternative therapies. These can be added on for an extra cost, so be sure to factor that in when comparing prices.

By understanding these features, you can choose a pet insurance plan that fits your budget and your pet’s needs.

Understanding Your Pet’s Needs:

  • Age Matters: Some companies might not offer accident and illness coverage for senior pets, or it might be too expensive. Accident-only plans can be a good alternative if a full plan isn’t feasible.
  • Breed Restrictions: Certain breeds might have limitations on coverage, so be sure to check if your pet’s breed is included.
  • Pre-Existing Conditions: If your pet has any chronic health issues, find out how each company handles pre-existing conditions in their plans.

Making a Must-Have List:

Now that you’re thinking about your pet’s healthcare, jot down some features that are essential for your pet insurance plan. Here are some common things to consider:

  • Positive Reviews: Look for companies with a good reputation from other pet owners.
  • Speedy Claims: A fast and easy claims process is a big plus.
  • 24/7 Vet Helpline: Having access to a vet around the clock can be a lifesaver in emergencies.
  • Pre-Existing Condition Coverage (After Cured): If your pet overcomes a health issue, some plans will cover future problems unrelated to that condition.
  • Double Trouble Coverage: Does the plan cover an illness or injury that affects both sides of your pet’s body (like ear infections)?
  • Direct Payment to Vet: This simplifies the whole process by letting the insurance company pay the vet directly.
  • Short Waiting Periods: The sooner your coverage kicks in, the better.
  • Exam Fees: Is the cost of check-ups included?
  • Alternative Therapies: Are treatments like acupuncture covered?
  • Behavioral Issues: Does the plan cover any behavioral problems your pet might have?
  • Dental Coverage: Is dental care, including disease and fractures, included?
  • Deductible Options: Choose a deductible that fits your budget (low deductible means higher premium, high deductible means lower premium).
  • Reimbursement Options: Select a plan that reimburses you for a high percentage of your vet bills.
  • Wellness Plans: Is there an affordable wellness plan option available (for routine care)?
  • Genetic Conditions: Does the plan cover any genetic conditions your pet might have?
  • Instant Quotes: Getting a quick quote online can save you time.
  • Budget-Friendly Premiums: Set a realistic budget for your pet insurance and look for plans that fit your needs within that price range.

Remember, you likely won’t find a plan with every single feature on this list. The key is to prioritize the most important benefits based on your pet’s unique health situation.

More: State Farm Pet Insurance: Unveiling Costs & Coverage in 2024

Get Quotes

Shopping around for pet insurance? Get quotes from different companies to compare prices. It’s important to compare apples to apples, so make sure the quotes have the same deductible (the amount you pay upfront before insurance kicks in) and reimbursement percentage (the portion of the bill the insurance company covers).

Some companies might offer additional coverage as an add-on, while others might include it in the base plan. To make a fair comparison, build a similar plan with each company before looking at the final price.

Watch out for annual limits! This is the maximum amount the insurance company will pay out in a year. If your pet’s bills reach that limit, you’ll be on the hook for the rest. Make sure the limit is high enough to cover your pet’s potential needs.

Have questions? Call the insurance company directly! In our experience, they’re happy to answer your questions and don’t have long wait times.

Tip: Ask about discounts! Many companies offer discounts for multiple pets or if you bundle pet insurance with other policies like home insurance.

Ready to get your pet covered?

Now it’s time to pick a plan that fits your needs. Most companies let you choose:

  • Deductible: This is the amount you pay upfront before insurance kicks in. A lower deductible means you pay less upfront but usually have a higher monthly cost.
  • Reimbursement percentage: This is the portion of the vet bill the insurance company pays back. It can be anywhere from 50% to 90%.
  • Annual coverage limit: This is the maximum amount the insurance company will pay out in a year.

Some companies might ask for your pet’s medical history before approving your policy. It’s also a good idea to understand how to file a claim so you’re prepared if your pet needs to see the vet.

Don’t forget the fine print!

Read the policy details carefully to understand waiting periods. These are periods you have to wait before certain things are covered. There might be a longer wait for illnesses than accidents, and some pre-existing conditions might have even longer wait times.

Top best Insurance Companies

  • Pre-existing Conditions: AKC Pet Insurance is your only option if your pet already has health issues. But there’s a one-year waiting period.
  • Complete Coverage: ASPCA Pet Health Insurance covers everything from accidents to illnesses, including teeth, genetics, and even behavioral problems.
  • Older Pets: Spot Pet Insurance has no age limit and covers end-of-life care, exams, and more. Even some pre-existing conditions are covered after 6 months (except knees and ligaments).
  • Double Trouble (Bilateral Conditions): Figo Pet Insurance doesn’t penalize pets with conditions affecting both legs or ears. Plus, cured pre-existing conditions might be covered after a year.
  • Hereditary Worries: Nationwide covers genetic conditions without any waiting period. Their “Whole Pet” plan is great, but it only reimburses up to 70% of costs.
  • Military Members: USAA offers pet insurance through Embrace with a discount for veterans and active duty personnel. Plus, healthy pets get a lower deductible over time.
  • Immediate Coverage: Companion Protect starts right away (no waiting period) and reimburses 90% of costs with a low $100 deductible. But it’s only available to recent adopters from specific shelters.
  • Budget-Friendly Dog Insurance: Lemonade has the most affordable rates for dogs, starting at just $10 per month.
  • Purrfectly Priced Cat Insurance: Odie Pet Insurance offers the cheapest coverage for cats, with plans as low as $3 per month for kittens.

Save Money on Pet Insurance: Easy Tips!

Keep your furry friend covered without breaking the bank? Here are some ways to save on pet insurance:

  • Pick a higher deductible: This means you pay less each month (premium) but more upfront when you visit the vet. Choose an amount you can comfortably afford.
  • Choose a lower reimbursement: The insurance company pays back a smaller percentage of your vet bill, lowering your monthly cost. You’ll shoulder more of the bill though.
  • Limits matter: Unlimited coverage is great, but expensive. A lower limit (like $10,000) can save you money, but be sure it’s enough for your pet’s needs, especially for chronic conditions.
  • Shop around! Prices vary depending on your pet. Get quotes from Odie, Lemonade, and a few other companies to find the best deal.
  • Pay all at once: Some insurers offer a discount for paying the entire year’s premium (your monthly cost) upfront.
  • Look for discounts: Many companies offer savings for things like having multiple pets, other types of insurance with them, or working in certain professions (veterinarian, military). Ask about discounts!

Cost of Pet Insurance

  • Accident-only plans can be quite affordable, starting at around $6 per month for cats and $9 for dogs.
  • Accident and illness plans can be as low as $10 per month for basic coverage, but on average, expect to pay $49 per month for dogs and $29 for cats.

How Long Does it Take to Get Coverage?

  • You can sign up online and some companies can issue a policy the same day if your pet is healthy and has had a recent checkup.
  • There’s usually a waiting period before coverage kicks in. This is typically a few days for accidents and two weeks for illnesses, but it can vary.

Can I Get Pet Insurance After My Pet Gets Sick?

  • No, pre-existing conditions generally aren’t covered.
  • Some companies may cover chronic conditions after a year or cured conditions after six months, but it depends on the insurer.

Is Pet Insurance Worth It?

  • This is a personal decision, but pet insurance can help you manage vet bills. Unexpected emergencies are common, and one in three pets will need them at some point.
  • While you might pay more in premiums than you get back in benefits, pet insurance can prevent you from having to choose between your pet’s health and your finances.

What Does Pet Insurance Cover?

  • Pet insurance typically covers accidents and illnesses that happen after the waiting period. Pre-existing conditions are usually excluded, but some plans may cover them after a year or if your pet is symptom-free for a certain period.

How Does Pet Insurance Work?

  • You pay a monthly premium and the insurance company reimburses you for covered veterinary care after you pay the deductible and up to your policy limits.
  • You can visit any licensed vet and file a claim for reimbursement after your pet receives care.

What Is the Best Pet Insurance?

  • The best plan depends on your pet’s health, your budget, and how much coverage you need. Consider factors like cost, coverage details, and customer reviews when comparing companies.

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