While the idea of “pet health insurance” sounds silly, it’s a real thing that American people use to soften the blow of insurmountably expensive veterinarian bills. While many pet owners use it to save on their pets’ health costs, many people have never heard of it.
Since vet insurance runs on a system of reimbursement claims, your pet insurance will be valid with your vet. You pay the vet, and then the insurance company pays you directly. No networks are needed!
There’s a lot to learn about pet insurance so you can make the best decision for your pet’s future! So, we’re bringing you all the information you need to have your pets insured.
What is Pet Insurance?
Pet “health insurance” is not an actual branch of health insurance. It’s a type of “property and casualty” (P&C) insurance. Despite this, it operates as health insurance using a reimbursement insurance model.
Essentially, you pay the veterinarian, file a claim, and the insurance company will reimburse you minus the deductible and copay for any uncovered expenses. With human health insurance, usually, your provider files the claim and is returned by the insurance company, and the patient pays a deductible or copay.
To better understand copay and deductibles, we recommend checking a few different companies to compare policies and find the one that best fits your needs.
Top Rated Pet Insurance Companies:
Human healthcare also uses managed care to create networks that providers work under to further limit your access to healthcare by refusing to cover any doctor outside of their network of employment. Pet insurance, thankfully, doesn’t have that yet, but with the rise of pet ownership and, thus, pet insurance premiums, who knows what we’ll see moving forward.
How Do I Sign Up for Pet Insurance?
Unlike human health insurance, which employers often provide in a group-type policy, pet insurance is becoming a popular employee benefit. The premium is paid for by the employee but deducted from their paycheck rather than having to search the market themselves.
What Types of Pet Health Insurance Coverage is There?
There are three main types of pet health insurance, accident, wellness, and accident plus illness. Each one covers different situations and costs an additional month to maintain your coverage.
Accident-only policies are available from some companies, but their coverage is limited. It will cover things like limb fractures and lacerations, but not things like infections, diabetes, or allergies. You want accident plus illness coverage to get a broad spectrum of coverage that encompasses most things that could happen.
Wellness coverage includes yearly wellness exams, vaccinations, tests to screen for parasites, heartworm preventative, flea and tick products, spay/neuter procedures, and teeth cleaning. Many companies offer wellness care coverage as an add-on to your typical accident plus illness coverage.
Wellness care procedures typically follow a pattern and can be budgeted for by pet parents who are conscious of the yearly costs. However, wellness coverage will still reimburse you a portion of your cat’s wellness exams and other annual check-up procedures. Most pet parents don’t need wellness coverage for their once-yearly check-ups. However, kittens and puppies who will need multiple wellness checks and the standard spay/neuter procedure may benefit from wellness insurance.
Does a Pet’s Age or Health Affect What Coverage They Can Get?
Some companies may not offer health insurance to pet parents of pets who have already been diagnosed with chronic conditions like diabetes, feline leukemia, or kidney disease. They may provide accident-only or downgraded accident/illness coverage with higher deductibles, lower reimbursement percentages, and a lower annual maximum.
Exclusions to coverage are on an individual company-by-company basis and are included in the same documentation they gave you when you signed up for the policy. To provide transparency, pet owners should ask whether a pet insurance company will review their pet’s medical record and let them know up-front if any pre-existing conditions won’t be covered. Not all companies will do this. So, pet parents should ask a company if they do this before choosing to insure their pet with the company.
How Much Does Pet Health Insurance Cost?
Premiums are generally based on a pet’s age, breed, and zip code. However, pet insurance companies will allow people to customize their coverage to fit their budget. You can choose from several optional add-ons, plans, and budgets.
Costs for health insurance are generally in the $60–$200 range, with policies with low deductibles and copays towards the higher monthly fees, and coverage with higher deductibles and copays will be cheaper.
Pet insurance is one way we can help our furry family members by investing in their health and futures. Premiums for cats are roughly half the cost of those for dogs, yet only 15%–20% of the pets insured in the U.S. are cats. Insuring your cat is a great way to ensure it is cared for in its old age.
Featured Image Credit: Syda Productions, Shutterstock