When your pet is sick or injured, your natural reaction is likely, “Money is no concern.” But, what do you do when your bank account balance doesn’t match the deep love you have for your best friend? Pet health insurance is one way pet owners can cover unexpected veterinary costs, in addition to routine preventive care. People usually buy insurance, whether it’s home, auto, or health, to help them pay for large, unexpected, or unplanned expenses, which they would have trouble covering out-of-pocket.
Pet insurance for emergency care
For example, a goofy Labrador puppy thinks sneaking into the trash can, and stealing the roast chicken scraps, is an excellent idea. But, the sharp chicken bones and fatty skin cause double trouble—foreign body ingestion with intestinal perforation, topped with acute pancreatitis. Emergency surgery, coupled with intensive care to avoid sepsis and calm an angry pancreas, requires an impressive amount of medication, labor, and supplies, which adds up to a hefty veterinary bill. Without pet insurance, paying for an emergency bill without destroying your budget is likely a challenge; however, with a low monthly insurance premium, you can rest easy, knowing you can financially care for your pet in a critical situation.
How to choose a pet insurance policy
When choosing a pet health insurance provider, consider these important factors before locking in a policy:
- Premium cost — If your pet is young and healthy, or you choose a basic plan without additional coverage, the monthly premium is reasonable—often less than the cost of eating out once per month. Most feline plans are less than $20 per month, while canine plans are less than $25 per month. Premiums for comprehensive wellness, emergency, and preventive care coverage, or a pet whose breed is plagued with multiple genetic conditions, will cost more.
- Deductible — Some plans have low deductibles with higher premiums, while others have deductibles almost equal to an emergency veterinary visit cost, but with a low monthly premium. Other plans include a deductible for each incident or condition, rather than an annual limit.
- Coverage — Depending on your pet’s needs, you can choose a plan that covers accidents and illness, or one that offers more comprehensive coverage, including holistic care, specialty services, dental treatments, wellness care, and preventive products.
- Exclusions — No insurance provider will cover boarding, grooming, or pre-existing conditions, and some have more stringent exclusions. Purchasing an insurance policy when your pet is young will grant you the most coverage, by limiting pre-existing conditions and ensuring coverage for future illnesses. Before purchasing a policy, check with the provider about coverage for congenital or hereditary conditions, especially if you have a breed prone to genetic diseases, because many companies exclude such conditions.
- Reimbursement schedule — Most insurance providers require that you submit a claim before they will reimburse you, so you must have the money up front. A few companies will pay your veterinarian at the time of service, so you do not need to pay up-front and wait weeks for reimbursement. If you’re concerned about budgeting, choose such a provider.
- Ease of use — Customer service is always an important consideration when choosing a provider. Check out the company’s online reviews, and gauge their customer service—you will need them to be helpful if you have a problem, or need explanations of their policies, claim submissions, and reimbursement schedules.
Fortunately, pet health insurance is much simpler to use than human insurance. For example, all veterinarians are considered “in network,” so you do not need to worry about your veterinarian being out of network.
Unlike human health insurance, pet insurance is about peace of mind and being financially prepared for a potential emergency, more than guaranteeing that you save money. As an animal emergency hospital, we all too often see pet owners constricted by finances when they have to make quality-of-life decisions for their beloved companion.
We strongly recommend that you remove the worry about cost from the equation of life-saving care for your furry friend, by enrolling in a pet insurance plan. Contact us for advice on the best providers and policies.