Pets are prone to getting into mischief and coming down with sudden illnesses, often leading to a hefty emergency bill for after-hours veterinary care. Pet health insurance helps finance unexpected veterinary care when your pet becomes sick or injured.

How does pet health insurance work?

Similar to car insurance, a pet health insurance plan quietly protects your pet, until it is needed during an emergency situation. Most insurance providers do not offer wellness coverage, sinceit’s considered routine pet care that can be budgeted for. If you are interested in purchasing wellness coverage for your pet, you may have to do some digging to find a provider that offers it.

Pet health insurance functions like human health insurance in some ways, but is much simpler in others. Typically, your pet is treated, you file a claim, and then your insurance provider issues a reimbursement. Some advantages pet insurance has over human health insurance include:

  • Coverage through any licensed veterinarian, with no need to find in-network providers
  • Simple policy options, with few tiers of coverage to choose from
  • Affordable monthly premiums

One key difference between human and pet insurance is that payment is usually due at the time of service. Keep a pet emergency fund so you can pay the bill, then file a claim for reimbursement. Otherwise, investigate insurance providers who pay upfront. Trupanion is one of the few providers that offers a direct payment option, paying up to 90% of your invoice at the time of service and saving you from out-of-pocket expenses.

What pet health insurance plan is best for your pet?

Check online for pet health insurance providers, and you may spend the better part of your afternoon wading through the options. Choose the best insurance plan for your pet by answering these questions:

  • What monthly premium can I afford? Consider your monthly budget when choosing a plan. Lower premiums come with a higher deductible, but will still provide peace of mind in the case of an emergency.
  • Does my pet have any pre-existing conditions that may not be covered? Insurance providers look at pre-existing conditions differently, and some may not cover your pet’s current illness. For example, if your dog snuck into the trash and ended up with a messy case of diarrhea,some providers may not cover illnesses related to diarrhea in the future. Check out the stipulations regarding pre-existing conditions, especially if the illness in question is curable.
  • Is coverage limited for hereditary conditions? We see many purebred dogs afflicted with genetic conditions, such as skin issues, orthopedic problems, and eye disease. If you have a disease-prone breed, such as an English bulldog or a Labrador retriever, choose a provider that covers hereditary conditions.
  • Is there a waiting period before coverage begins? Most insurance providers require a waiting period before they provide coverage for your pet. This helps keep premiums low. Unfortunately, you cannot take out insurance once you discover your pet requires a costly procedure. Invest in insurance before your pet becomes ill or injured to provide critical care promptly.
  • Are the provider’s reviews complimentary? Take customer reviews with a grain of salt. People are more likely to comment online if they’ve had a negative experience, so take time to weed out the negative reviews and see if they’re legitimate. Ask family and friends with pet insurance which provider they recommend.
  • What sort of coverage does my pet need? Comprehensive plans that incorporate exams, dental care, vaccinations, prescriptions, and complementary holistic care cost more, but provide more coverage. Instead, you may opt for an accident and illness plan, and budget for wellness care to cut down on your premium cost.

  • Is there a discount for multiple pets? Most insurance companies reward you for being a loyal customer and provide a variety of discounts, like multiple pet coverage and online enrollment.

Whether it’s direct pay, coverage of hereditary conditions, or holistic care benefits, create a list of the options important to you regarding your pet’s health coverage. Once you’ve decided what options are needed to protect your pet, choosing an insurance provider becomes much simpler.