Is it Worth It?
I think one of the greatest myths of my childhood was health insurance. I went to the doctor, showed them my dad’s insurance card, and just assumed that was it. As an adult, I learned it wasn’t as simple as that. This year I had a baby, and learned that it REALLY wasn’t as simple as that. Since the baby was born, I’ve placed multiple calls to my insurance company, my doctor, and the hospital. I’m certainly not the only one who has found my own insurance to be a bit of a confusing struggle. Is this really something we want to bring in to veterinary care? Is pet insurance worth the hassle, frustration, and expense? Most pet owners are well equipped to deal with routine veterinary care, but unexpected medical situations are a different story. This is the role pet insurance plays. Pet insurance has a place in helping to pay for a major, unexpected medical need. Very few pet owners have pet insurance, and this is partly because most of us don’t even know where to start!
Here’s five things you should know about pet insurance:
You will have to pay upfront.
Pet insurance companies will ask that you pay the bill to your vet clinic at the time of service. You can then make a claim. Usually the company requires the invoice and medical record to be sent before they send you a reimbursement check. Some plans pay the total cost of the bill after the deductible, and some pay a percentage of the total bill.
Pre-existing conditions aren’t covered.
It’s best to start the plan with a young, healthy pet. Premiums will be lowest on new puppies and kittens. It’s important to start the insurance plan before your dog has an injury or health concerns arise. Changing plans will likely mean that chronic health conditions covered by previous insurance are no longer covered by your new insurance. Take that into consideration when picking your plan the first time around!
Some companies cover preventative care!
Veterinary dental care a little out of your price range? Some of the plans available do cover routine, preventative care. That being said, it’s important to do your homework and know what your plan covers. Some plans even cover prescription foods and monthly heartworm preventatives.
You get to choose your veterinarian.
Pet insurance is a 3rd party billing system. The good news of this is that you can choose your veterinarian. The bad news is you have to pay up front and wait for a reimbursement.
Hereditary conditions may not be covered.
Some companies do still exclude breed related conditions. If you have a purebred dog, it is important to call the company and determine which breed related conditions would not be covered. Many of the newer plans cover breed related concerns, but will not cover the pet if they are exhibiting signs at the time of enrollment.
So, where do you start?
The North American Pet Health Insurance Association has a buying guide that is very helpful in understanding terms and different expectations for policies. If you click on “Find Pet Insurance” you can see a list of all of the options available. You can find this resource at the following link:
Pet Insurance University has a comprehensive guide to understanding pet insurance, and has a fantastic site that allows for comparison of different policies. You can find that link here:
Feeling skeptical of pet insurance? That’s a fair sentiment. Human health insurance if fraught with complications and fine print. The point of pet insurance is to be prepared for the unexpected. An alternative would be to set money aside each month for unexpected medical expenses for your pet. If you start when you have a healthy puppy or kitten, you should have some reserves for future medical expenses.
So, if you have a new puppy or kitten, or if you’ve added an older rescued pet to your family, it’s a good time to do a little research on the pet insurance options available to you. And remember, routine veterinary care is the most important part of keeping your pet happy and healthy! Any of our staff members would be happy to talk to you about the ins and outs of pet insurance.