When you welcome a loving pet home, they change your life, your home, and your entire lifestyle. As all pet owners know, we are not just owners of some pet, we them as our children – our fur babies – parts of our family.
Family members are precious and every one of them deserves the best of the care – including healthcare. Veterinary medicine has advanced so much over the decades that now our beloved pets live longer (just like their humans). This is why we are going to face more healthcare challenges for our pets. This is why we need insurance for dogs, cats, etc.
This brings up a new challenge of planning for the healthcare of your pet. This is where Pet Insurance can be a very useful tool to plan for the unexpected illnesses, health checks, and even preventive medicine of our pet. This also helps keep a lid on the expensive vet bills.
Much like life insurance and health insurance for humans, the world of Pet insurance is huge with more options and policies than ever. Overwhelming as it may seem, the experienced pet owner quickly learns some tips and tricks on deciding which company to purchase their pet insurance. Here are some helpful tips on how you can decide which policy is the best for your furbaby:
Read up on Your Pet’s Breed
It is very important to research your pet’s breed when you take on the responsibility of a pet. Breed specific health issues and conditions are pretty widespread and common. Good news is that with proper care even these breed specific conditions can be managed well to improve your pet’s quality of life well into their senior years.
Cocker spaniels are prone to ear infection because of their long ears. Daschunds are known for having slip discs because of their long torso. Dalmatians are more prone to bladder stones. There are a tonne of breed specific conditions that you need to be aware of to be able to decide what kind of insurance coverage your pet will need.
Some insurance policies don’t cover pre-existing conditions and can limit the coverage for known complications with some breeds. So, be sure to cross-check the policy terms to check to see if your pet will indeed be covered for the conditions they are susceptible to.
This is where getting your pet from a reputable breeder will come handy. You can ask questions to your breeder to see if certain conditions were kept in mind when breeding the new litter.
Check-up and Pre-existing Conditions
Ideally, you would get your pet insurance early on in the pet adoption process. Whether it is a breeder or you adopt from an agency, the pet should come with some vet papers listing what they have been vaccinated and what conditions were they treated for while in the care of the breeder or the pet shelter/agency. This is where you can ask questions about pre-existing conditions that they may have found.
It is very important to take your newly adopted pet to your veterinarian for a complete health check including blood tests, urine samples, stool samples etc. This is where you can find out if your pet already has a pre-existing condition.
Most policies may not cover pre-existing conditions, so it will be wise to know if your pet has any before you are surprised with a claim rejection down the road. It is the responsibility of the insured to inform the insurer of any pre-existing conditions.
When researching policies, feel free to call the insurer and find out if they cover any conditions or what their policy is for coverage for pre-existing conditions.
This vet check will be a great way to start the journey of healthcare for your pet.
Deductible and Details
Like all insurance policies, it is important to be practical and understand that while insurance companies will cover most of the cost of treating your pet for an illness that is covered, it is common for them to apply a deductible fee of a certain vet bill. For example, a $100 deductible means while the insurance will cover the cost, they will not cover $100 of the total bill. Planning for these deductibles is an important step in budgeting for your pet healthcare. Be sure to check the deductible for each type of illness to know what the deductible is.
The other very important detail to remember is to find out when your policy comes into effect. Some have a 30-day start policy (meaning the coverage starts after 30 days from when you sign on with them).
There is also another detail about limits of coverage – a limit of how much the insurer will cover for a condition in the lifetime of the plan and in the calendar year term of the plan. Knowing these details are also very important.
Are Routine Checks and Vaccines Covered?
Pet insurers have various plans to choose from – it is kind of like the good, better, best plans with your cell phone company.
Basic plans are for those who want coverage for accidental illnesses or emergencies or if your pet gets sick only. These plans are like a discount on the cost of caring for these situations for your pet.
The middle plan can include the basic coverage as well as some additional illnesses and prescription drugs etc and perhaps some pre-existing condition coverage.
The wellness packages are the best plans that will include routine checks, vaccinations, preventative testing, spaying, neutering, etc. These are usually the pricier option but will be the most comprehensive plan for your pet and the one that will give the most peace of mind.
So be sure to compare and contrast what is included in these plans. Some insurers provide nice handy charts to help you compare. The more you compare the better you will know what exactly will you be covered for.
Reputation and Dependability
Some of the largest pet insurers have been around for decades are very well regarded by consumers. Some others might not have the best reputation. It is always best to go for the insurers with a reputation of being dependable and cooperative. You can read up the reviews, ask others in your puppy training class, and read up on the history of the insurer online.
Some insurers will allow you to use your vet, and others might have restrictions. Some may provide the convenience of having your vet office staff submit your claim for you and others may require you to submit the claim yourself – which again some will allow online submissions and others might not.
The best insurers will usually make it easier for you to submit claims and provide a very responsive customer service team to assist you.
So, it is very important to research the reputation and dependability and customer satisfaction levels of these insurers.
As we all know, insurance is as much about planning for the unexpected as it is for the peace of mind. Of course, we all wish we don’t have to make as many claims because that means our pets are living healthy lives. However, it is very important to know that when you need the help, your insurer is there for you.
A little bit of research can help prevent surprises or disappointments with your policy down the road. Be sure to start insurance as early in your pet’s life as possible and lock in some of the best rates for your insurance policies.
Happy pet parenting!