The human-animal bond between pet owners and their pets is stronger than ever. Pet owners spent a whopping $60 billion last year on their pets. Many of those dollars were spent on advanced veterinary care, which is helping pets live longer, healthier lives. But these advancements come at a cost, and many pet owners are forced to choose between the best care for their pet and the limits of their wallet.
This is quickly changing with medical insurance for cats and dogs.
“As advanced veterinary care becomes accessible to the average pet owner, health insurance for pets is rising in popularity and becoming an essential part of responsible pet ownership,” said Dr. Steve Weinrauch, Chief Veterinary Officer at Trupanion.
But how do you know if dog or cat insurance is right for your family? Start with the basics; what is it, how do you pick a policy, and what questions to ask along the way.
What is Medical Insurance for Pets?
As a pet owner, you expect to pay for basic veterinary care like vaccines, spay/neuter, and annual checkups. Many pet owners don’t consider the unexpected illnesses and injuries that can occur throughout a pet’s life, and they don’t prepare for them. Insurance can help a pet owner prepare.
The concept of medical insurance for pets is fairly straightforward—pay a monthly premium to be covered for veterinary expenses. But every provider is different, offering varied coverage with different plans, pricing options and limitations. As you research, pay close attention to coverage, deductible options, and ease of use.
How Do I Choose a Policy?
Wading through insurance policies can seem like a daunting task, but it’s not as hard as you might think. There are some key elements to consider when choosing a provider. Remember the ABC’s of Pet Insurance as you begin your research.
Many times, the age of your pet will influence the cost to insure them. Some companies will increase the price of the premium as the pet ages while some price based on their age at the time of enrollment. Insuring your pet as a puppy or kitten has benefits. It is often less expensive and more likely that a pre-existing condition will not already exist.
Some breeds are prone to costly conditions, like hip dysplasia. The right medical insurance plan will cover these hereditary or congenital conditions.
Each company offers varying degrees of coverage, and some have coverage schedules and limits. Look for a provider that will pay a large portion of your veterinary bill, covers congenital and hereditary conditions, and has no payout limits. While $15,000 may seem like a high limit, some veterinary bills quickly exceed that amount. Take the time to review each policy and be sure you fully understand coverage and any exclusions.
Choose a deductible that fits your budget and pay attention to how they are applied. Deductibles help you control your premiums while still making sure that you see coverage when you need it. Some deductibles must be met yearly, and some only apply once per condition—which is great if your pet develops a chronic condition like allergies. Some companies let you choose your deductible and pick a premium that best fits your budget.
E, pre-Existing conditions
No pet medical insurance company currently covers pre-existing conditions, but each provider identifies pre-existing conditions differently. Read the company policy to make sure you understand how each company identifies a pre-existing condition and how they decide if it relates to a future claim.
Look for a policy that does not lock you into a long-term contract and gives you the freedom to adjust your deductible or premium payments to fit your changing financial needs whenever you need to. You also want a policy that gives you the freedom to go to any veterinarian or specialist you choose.
What Questions Should I Ask?
As you consider medical insurance for your pet, you should read reviews and do your homework. Don’t hesitate to contact a provider to ask questions about coverage. Here are a few questions to get you started.
- Is the policy easy to understand? Can I see a sample policy?
- How will my pet’s age influence the cost and coverage of the policy? Does my pet meet the age requirements to enroll?
- How will my pet’s breed influence the cost and coverage of the policy? Is my pet more prone to certain health conditions? Are those conditions covered?
- What percentage of the veterinary bill will they cover?
- Does the company have payout limits? Do they reimburse based on a benefit schedule?
- Is there a deductible? What are the options for the policy? Is it flexible? Will it fit my financial situation?
- When is a condition considered pre-existing?
- What flexibility does the company offer? Will I be locked in a contract? Will I be able to use my coverage at any veterinarian in any province or state?
- Does my veterinarian recommend them?
Why We Recommend Trupanion
There are many pet insurance providers out there, but we think the Trupanion policy is the best choice for medical insurance for your cat or dog. Between the comprehensive 90% coverage, no payout limits, and financial flexibility*, the Trupanion policy offers great coverage for cats and dogs throughout their life. You can learn more about the Trupanion plan at Trupanion.com.
If you’re still not sure if pet medical insurance is right for you, your veterinarian can help provide insight. They have extensive knowledge of your pet’s breed risks and health history. Ultimately, it is up to you as the pet owner to decide if insurance is right for your cat or dog. It is not for every family, but with rising veterinary costs it is something that should be considered to keep your finances in check.
* Terms and conditions apply, please see the Trupanion policy for details.