Does Pet Insurance Really Make a Difference?
Imagine the difference between being able to pay for life-saving veterinary care versus opting-out because of the potential for financial fallout…the choice is clear for many pet owners. Pet insurance helps cover the cost of veterinary medical expenses should your pet become ill or suffer an injury. Some plans even cover routine wellness exams and some procedures. But how does it work – and how can it work for your pet?
The Best Way to Use Pet Insurance
Sure, some pet owners budget for pet emergencies, but it’s far more likely that you’ll have to pay for expenses when they pop up (using CareCredit, for example). Pet insurance comes in handy when unexpected or catastrophic events occur and can be used as a risk management tool.
Works Like This
Pet insurance has monthly premiums, co-pays, and deductibles, just like our own human health plans. Most plans do not cover pre-existing conditions and have specific waiting periods before defined coverage commences.
Pet insurance is a reimbursement program, meaning you pay for veterinary services at the time of treatment and then submit the receipt to the insurance company. Unlike human plans, pet insurance companies do not have “networks,” so you can use your plan wherever (and whenever) the need arises.
Do the Research
If you can cover the cost of a worst-case scenario out of pocket, you may not need pet insurance. Many plans have a “maximum payout limit” that may not cover the cost of a worst-case scenario in your geographic location. It’s a good idea to look into a plan’s specific payout limit with regard to lifetime, per incident, per area of the body, or based on an advanced benefit schedule.
It’s also important to understand the premium amount, how the company pays claims, and if there are exclusions (based on your pet’s medical history) or special requirements for the plan.
Read and Then Read Again
When choosing the right pet insurance plan for your pet, it’s important to research:
- What exactly is covered
- Cancer treatments
- Chronic illness treatments
- Continual coverage for chronic disease (heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, etc.)
- Congenital or hereditary diseases
- Breed-specific diseases
- If only accidents are covered (if so, read the fine print regarding what exactly counts as an accident)
- Age limits (some companies will not cover animals over a certain age, making it worthwhile to purchase a pet insurance early in a pet’s life).
Before purchasing pet insurance, it’s critical to have a realistic approach to this enterprise. It would be unfortunate to think that something is covered by your plan, only to find out later it is not.