What is Pet Insurance?
Pet insurance is a health insurance policy for your pet. It will cover your expenses incurred when your pets get sick or injured. The insurance can cover high veterinary bills that can occur when your pet requires a major surgery or treatment.
Like your own health insurance policy, pet insurance also has deductibles and caps on the amount that will be paid by the insurer. A few pet insurance policies may also pay out if your pet gets lost.
A pet insurance policy may not protect you from all the medical problems or expenses that your pet might face. There are different types of policies offered by insurance companies, each with their own terms and conditions. Before signing up for pet insurance it is important to check the policy to know what medical conditions are covered and what’s not.
How does Pet Insurance Work?
Pet insurance works like any other insurance policy. Different policies allow you to select the amount insured and the health conditions that will be covered in the policy. The premium is calculated after considering several factors. We will discuss this later in the article.
Unlike your health policy which puts limitations on the doctors or network that you can use, pet insurance will give you the freedom to get your pet checked from any certified vet.
Typically pet insurance policies will have a waiting period from the time you purchase an insurance policy to when the coverage starts. This prevents owners with already sick pets from using the insurance immediately. This helps protect the interest of insurers from someone buying the insurance just to have a procedure done. The waiting period can range from a day to a few weeks. Some policies may also have waiting periods for up to a year on some health conditions before the coverage on those diseases start.
The important components of a pet insurance policy are –
Almost all pet insurance policies will have a deductible. This is the minimum amount that you’ll need to pay before the insurer pays anything. This can range from zero to up to a few hundred dollars.
This is the portion of the veterinary bill or treatment cost, over and above the deductible amount that the insurer will pay. Generally, your pet policy will not cover the entire cost of the treatments. Depending upon your policy the compensation level can vary from 50% to 100%. It’s best to contact your insurance provider before any procedures to make sure that they’ll pay for whatever needs to be done.
Most policies will also cap the liability of the insurer. This can vary between policies. The insurer can provide a cap on the claim amount per bill or per year. If you exceed this cap, the remaining treatment cost will be paid by you.
It’s important to discuss everything with your insurer before signing up for the policy. You don’t want to sign up for a policy that sets low caps for annual or per treatment visits. You could end up spending more on veterinary treatments even if you have been paying the premiums.
How to Apply for a Claim?
An important thing to know about pet insurance is that the payment for the treatment will be paid upfront by you. Unlike your personal health insurance, most companies do not make the payout at the time of treatment. Even with insurance it can be a difficult situation. You’ll need to pay everything then wait for the insurance to pay you back. Before scheduling any treatment make sure you find out the details about when the claim amount will be reimbursed.
After the treatment, a copy of the bill will need to be sent to the insurance company to approve the claim. Once the claim is approved the amount will be directly credited to your account or a check would be sent through the mail. It can take up to a week for the claim to get processed and for you to receive the payment.
Companies offer various methods for sending in claims. Some will require you to mail copies of the bills while others will accept electronic copies through email. Discuss this with the pet insurance company before signing up for a policy.
How are the Premiums Calculated?
The most important factors that determine the amount of premiums are –
- Type of pet (dog, cat, snake, rodent, etc.)
- Breed of the animal
- Age of your pet
- Pre Existing medical conditions
It also depends on factors like the type of coverage you want. If you want to protect yourself by paying less per incident, the premiums will be higher. You can either have lower monthly premiums and get lower compensation per incident or have higher premiums and receive a higher compensation per incident.
Some policies will also have a limit to the annual liability of the insurer. If you decide to get a higher annual liability from the insurer then monthly premiums will be higher.
There are also add-ons that are purchased to cover additional expenses like a routine check-up and exam fees. This is generally not covered by pet insurance policies and needs to be included separately. Including add-ons to your policy will raise your premiums.
What does the Pet Insurance Policy Exclude?
While standard illnesses are covered, the following are generally excluded from pet insurance
- Dental diseases
- Behavioral issues
- Routine veterinary check ups
- Grooming charges
- Common hereditary conditions (like Hip Dysplasia)
The policy also excludes any existing medical conditions the pet has before purchasing the policy. To make sure that your pet is fully covered, it’s extremely important to go through the policy to understand what conditions are covered and excluded.
Should I get Pet Insurance?
Like you and your family members, even pets run the risk of developing health conditions. And just like your family’s health care the treatment can be expensive. The treatment cost for some surgeries can run into thousands of dollars like disc disease and Laryngeal paralysis. These unexpected costs can create a difficult situation for your family if you don’t have money put aside for a large medical bill
Your pet is a member of your family and no one wants this to happen to their family. Purchasing a pet insurance plan can help you finance the cost of emergency health treatments that your pet may require in the future. The premium for the policy amounts to a few hundred dollars annually but it can help you to save thousands of dollars on expensive medical treatments if your pet develops a major disease.
If you don’t want to purchase pet insurance we recommend that you try to put money aside to pay for your future vet bills. You may not want to take pet insurance if you have several pets. In this case, pet insurance can run into hundreds of dollars every month!