Part II: Déjà vu – What To Ask When Buying Pet Insurance

Advances in veterinary medicine have made caring for a sick pet more possible than ever, but the cost can be prohibitive.

By Kim Cavallero

Here are the promised tips on purchasing pet insurance from our April 9 blog post on pet insurance.

About Pet Insurance: Most people think they will never need it. But, if your pet becomes ill or has an accident, pet insurance can save his or her life. Advances in veterinary medicine have made it possible to treat chronic conditions such as cancer and kidney disease, but that care doesn’t come cheap. In the last five years, veterinary costs have risen more than 70%.

Some pet parents are put in terrible situations where they have to make difficult decisions such as their pet needing a life-saving treatment that they cannot afford. Pet insurance can prevent that from happening. Save yourself from that heartbreaking scenario by purchasing pet insurance now.

Following the tips below, you will find a list of pet insurance companies to consider when purchasing a policy. Most pet insurance companies’ websites give you the opportunity to submit some basic information and receive a quote online. You can also visit this site to receive quotes from several different companies by submitting your information once. Choosing the right company depends on your needs. Be sure to read reviews and ratings pet insurance policy owners have given. This could be your best source of information when choosing a company. My research found that Philadelphia’s Pet Plan was best for me and my kitties. You can also compare insurance plans for cats and dogs.

Why do I need pet insurance now?
While buying pet insurance now, as your pet is perfectly healthy, may seem like a waste of money, accidents and illnesses can happen at any time. If you do not insure your pet before something happens, many companies will not insure you after the fact or they may insure you, but not cover the condition for which your pet is currently suffering, considering it pre-existing.

What kind of coverage should I look for?
Coverage varies among the different companies offering insurance. Some companies cover accidents, illnesses, injuries, and/or routine care (i.e., annual vet visit, vaccinations), and even offer reimbursement for death benefits or a reward for a lost pet. You’ll need to determine which type of coverage is best for you. In addition, most companies have several different plans from which to choose.

Be sure to ask about exclusions. For example, some companies do not cover hereditary, congenital, or breed specific problems. Depending on the type of animal you have, this could be crucial.

What are the company’s payout limits?
Some companies will only pay up to a specified amount to cover treatment for an illness or injury, which means that once the limit is reached, you will probably have to pay for the remainder of your pet’s treatment from your own pocket. Companies usually limit the amount they will pay per year, per incident/injury, or per your pet’s lifetime. Figure out which is best for you.

How much is the deductible and how is it calculated?
Find out how much your deductible will be, as well as whether that deductible is per incident, per illness/injury, or per year.

  • Per incident means that anytime you take your pet to be seen, even if it’s for a follow-up visit to an illness they’ve already been seen for, you will pay your deductible before anything is covered.
  • Per illness/injury means you will only pay the deductible the first time your pet is treated for that illness or injury.
  • Per year means you will only need to pay the deductible once per year. For example, if your deductible is $100, once you meet that deducible, the company will pay for any additional care based on your reimbursement limits.

Will the company increase your policy based on your pet’s age?
Ask if your policy premium (the amount you pay each year) will be increased as your pet ages and if so, by how much. Some companies may insure your kitten or puppy for very little, but as your pet ages, may significantly increase the cost of your policy each time it renews.

How much does the company cover for your pet to see a specialist or visit an emergency clinic?
Some pet insurance companies will reimburse less if your pet needs to visit an emergency clinic or specialist. This is often when you need your coverage the most so be sure to ask if there is any difference in your coverage and if so what that is.

Under what conditions, can and will the company cancel your policy?
Some pet insurance companies reserve the right to cancel your policy for any reason other than fraud or nonpayment. This means they could cancel the policy if treatment for your pet escalates or for any other reason at their will. Be sure to find out under what conditions the company can and will cancel your policy.

Does the company cover ongoing and recurring conditions?
Some pet insurance companies do not cover ongoing or recurring conditions without the purchase of additional coverage. This means that if you pet is sick or injured in one plan period and you need care after your plan renews, the company would not pay it. You will want to ensure that the company you choose will continue to cover your pet and any conditions he or she has year after year.

Can you visit any veterinarian of your choosing? If you are traveling with your pet and something happens, can you visit a veterinarian where you are and still receive coverage?
Be sure to find out if the company will cover treatment at your choice of veterinarian or if they have a list of veterinarians that must see your pet for them to consider reimbursement.

Pet Insurance Companies To Consider

The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Animal Coalition of Delaware County. The Animal Coalition of Delaware County does not endorse or recommend a particular company for pet insurance. Those purchasing pet insurance policies are encouraged to do their own research to determine what is right for them.

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2 responses to “Part II: Déjà vu – What To Ask When Buying Pet Insurance

  1. Pingback: Déjà vu « Animal Coalition of Delaware County

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