When you first get your pet, the last thing on your mind is all of the future accidents or unexpected illnesses that may happen. Pet life insurance.
Mainly you are focused 100% on cuteness, everything your cat or dog does is cute.
For some, the cuteness of their pet never goes away.
However, the truth is that accidents will probably come and so will illness.
When this happens will want to have already had your pet covered by Pet Insurance.
Now, I know this is probably going to rub a lot of pet parents the wrong way.
However, Pet Health Insurance is not considered a "Type of Health Insurance," it's actually considered a Property & Casualty Insurance because your pet is seen in the insurance companies eyes as a type of property that you own.
Other than this distinct difference, the policies almost work the same. I am going to go over each part a pet health insurance plan below:
Like all Insurance, each pet insurance policy will come with a monthly premium due.
You usually can find savings if you pay the plan on an annual basis.
However, rates and premiums are going to vary based on the type of pet and the pets' age.
The deductible is the amount of money you must pay before the insurance company starts sharing in the costs of your coverage.
Each company will have different deductibles that can range from $50, $100, $200, $250, $500, $750, or $1,000.
Just like with any type of insurance that has a deductible, the lower the deductible, the higher the premiums.
If you purchase a pet insurance policy with a $100.00 deductible and your pet needs to see a vet because of an accident, you will be responsible for the first $100.00 of the bill.
If your pets' vet bill is $100.00 or below, then you will be responsible for the whole bill, and the insurance company will start assisting with their Reimbursement.
The Reimbursement is the amount of a vet's bill that an insurance company will pay once you reach your deductible.
Usually, you will have to pay the full amount and be "reimbursed" the difference by the insurance company.
Reimbursement levels range from 60%, 70%, 80% and 90%; I have yet to see any policy in the United States that offers a 100% reimbursement option.
Let's say your cat hurts her tail while playing around the house.
You take her to the veterinarian, and your final bill comes out to around $2,500.
You have the $100, deductible plan with 70% reimbursement, the way the breakdown would work goes like this:
Traditionally, you are going to pay 100% of the final bill and wait for the insurance company to reimburse you.
Based on the above plan you are responsible for the $100.00 deductible and also 30% of your pets bill.
The insurance company would deduct the $100.00 and then refund you 70% of the remaining bill which would be $1,680.
In all, you would have only paid $820.00 for a $2,500 bill. As you can see the savings are amazing and the policy really pays for itself easily if you have one vet visit.
Recently a majority of pet health insurance companies have been offering the ability to have the payment made directly to the vet.
Paying the vet directly is a great option, and I would suggest that anyone who can go this route to take it since it will allow you to avoid paying a large, unexpected bill out of pocket.
Think of the annual maximum as a "Cap" on your coverage.
If your pets' veterinarian bills reach the maximum for that year, you are responsible for 100% of the costs for the rest of the year.
Annual maximums can range from $5,000, $10,000 or Unlimited.
The higher the annual maximum, the more expensive the policy.
If you can afford it, and the insurance company offers the option, I always recommend purchasing the Unlimited option.
Insurance really protects us from uncertainty; it's much better for you to have no "Caps" on coverage for your pet.
The worst thing that could happen is that you end up getting a $25,000 bill and you have a $5,000 annual cap, that's how you can easily slip into debt.
Claims work a bit different with pet health insurance.
You will want to know the exact process of filing a claim and how the claims process will work for whatever company that covers your pet.
Most pet health insurance companies now have mobile apps for Apple or Android.
These apps allow you to take a picture of your vet bill, upload it, and receive your reimbursement in as little as 1 to 5 days via direct deposit.
If your pet insurance company doesn't have that option, usually you will want to go online and print out a claim form and send in all required documents via fax or mail.
No matter which option, filing the claim as soon as possible is important for getting your reimbursements back fast.
When you start looking for coverage for your pet, it's a great idea to understand exactly the type of coverage you are searching for and what types of coverage you may need for your pet.
You wouldn't search for personalized dog blankets if you didn't already have an idea of how you wanted it designed, so I suggest you do the same research for your pet insurance.
Life insurance quotes and sayings
There are three main types of coverage, and I outline them below:
Accident coverage is simply that, coverage for your pet if they are in an accident.
This type of coverage is usually included within any basic pet insurance policy and can also be purchased separately with some companies.
Someone who has a dog that can't qualify due to current medical issues would do great with just some sort of Accident policy on their pet.
Illness coverage is also a standard benefit on all policies; this coverage is used to treat sickness, disease and any changes to your pets' normal well being.
It's important to review the illness guidelines and know what will and won't be covered.
Hereditary & Congenital Conditions
You want to search the policy options for this benefit.
Although it isn't a type of coverage option, it is important to have this inside of your policy.
You want to make sure that your pet can be covered for any hereditary conditions you won't be aware of when they are born.
Wellness care is also preventative or routine care. This coverage can include things like vaccinations, exams, and dental work.
These policies aren't offered by every insurance company, so you need to check around to see if this benefit is offered if it's something you want.
Usually, there will be an additional fee to add this to the policy.
Before the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obama Care, was put into law, us pet-parents had to deal with the same situation.
No Pet Health Insurance Company will cover pre-existing conditions.
Each carrier states what is considered a pre-existing condition.
However, they all basically say the same thing:
The enrollment process is pretty straightforward.
All of the pet insurance companies that I have reviewed or looked at online allows for a seamless application process.
Everything can be completed online, and your pet can be covered in minutes.
You might have to go through a telephone process for more exotic animals, but overall you can get your pet covered in a matter of minutes.
Check out the below videos for examples of how the enrollment process looks and works for two different pet insurance companies:
What type of guide would this be if
we didn't write about pet health insurance cost?
After seeing how much protection your pet will have when you buy pet insurance you probably think it won't be affordable.
The average pet insurance cost is only $27.00/month.
This coverage is obtainable and affordable for anyone that has a pet.
Rates are going to be based mainly on pet type, age, and location.
$27.00/month is the average so below I put together some sample rate charts that will show pet insurance cost based on pet type in the state of Georgia:
You probably noticed that rates for cats are lower than rates for dogs.
This is probably because their average lifespan is 15 years compared to dogs which are 11 years.
The same can be said true about rates for pet parents who are women vs. those who are men.
Rates for women are lower because on average they outlive men.
Will my pets' premium increase due to Age?
When pets age, they face the same risk that we do in regards to an increased risk of things like cancer, kidney failure, and heart disease.
Depending on the specific policy you have, prices can increase as your pet gets older to cover increased vet visits and the aging needs of your pet.
It's also company specific how the increase is handled.
Some companies will simply bill you based on the age of your dog while others will base it on a specific needs increase in a particular area or neighborhood.
It's best to view your policy details to see how your particular policy will work.
Is Pet Insurance Worth It
As we stated above, the average pet insurance cost is around $27 a month.
Let's compare this to just a single visit to the vet for an emergency, chronic condition or an illness that can cost you over $20,000.
I can't think of any situation that would make sense for someone to not have pet insurance.
Pets have the energy, body and reflexes to create all sorts of chaos around the house and on themselves.
When you start searching for the top pet insurance companies, you need to look for the following things:
Claims-Paying Speed - How fast will this insurance company be able to reimburse you for the claim, the best pet insurance companies usually can pay a claim within five days.
Highly Rated - You want to check to see the A.M. Best or Demotech rating for the company you are deciding on, the best pet health insurance companies will have an A rating or equivalent. These ratings determine financial strength as well as claims-paying ability.
Great Customer Service - This is one area you can't look past. The way a company will treat you and how easy it is to speak to someone when you need help is fundamental. You want to be sure you have a team of people that appreciate your business and your pet.
Waiting Periods - Be sure that your policy doesn't have a waiting period that is much longer than what other carriers offer. Each policy will have their specific waiting periods so be sure to find the one with the shortest waiting periods.
Additional Benefits - Be sure to see what additional benefits can be added to your policy. Not all insurance companies offer wellness care, if that's important to you, don't budge and be sure to go with a carrier that offers it.
Can You Choose Your Veterinarian - For the most part, the best companies will not limit you to specific veterinarians, as with any policy, please check before you purchase that your vet is either in-network or the product will work for any vet.
Money Back Guarantee - I don't think you will find any pet insurance company that won't offer some type of 30 day money back guarantee; however if you find yourself in that position, move on to another carrier. The best companies will offer one.
Price That Matches Coverage - Most of the time people think they want to have "cheap" coverage; however, the trust is that we actually just want our money's worth. Be sure that the price you pay is worth the amount of coverage you receive for your pet.
When you start shopping for pet health insurance, don't just go on price, go on total value.
I believe that you can trust the accuracy of how the product works and its benefits.
You can also trust the reviews that customers leave on a companies page.
Most reviews really try to give you the answers to all of your questions without you having to scour the web or the insurance company website for the answer to a specific question that may be holding you back.
What I don't think you should try to trust a review on is how great that product would be for your pet because, in all honesty, your mileage may vary.
Let me say that I have two pet insurance reviews one here on Pets Best and another one here on Healthy Paws.
These reviews are two of the most detailed reviews that you will find online about each product, and I recommend checking them out when you get a chance.
One thing that I try to do is put the "Hard to find" information in one place so that you can make a solid decision at the end of each review.
*Full disclosure* - I am a partner with both insurance companies and will be compensated if you purchase coverage through any of the links inside of the reviews.
Yes, pet health insurance policies all come with some sort of waiting period.
These periods are going to be based solely on the type of product and the type of condition.
For instance, some carriers give:
A four day waiting period for accident and illness while others may give a two day or ten day waiting period for the same thing.
Waiting periods can last up to 6 months for things like cruciate ligament events and any related conditions or Hip Dysplasia.
The waiting periods are going to vary based on the company so please be sure to read the details for each policy.
Banfield Hospital - Usually can be found inside of a PetSmart store will assist with vet care.
HumaneSociety.Org - They have both Local and Nationwide lists of places that can help.
This list will continue to grow.
Feel free to reach out to us if you know of a place that we can add to the above list.
Accident: an accident is something that happens by mistake and is usually unintentional.
Accident Only Plan: This is a type of pet insurance plan that will only pay your vet bills if they are caused by an accident.
Adjuster: A representative of the insurance provider who seeks to determine the extent of the insurer’s liability for loss when a claim is submitted.
Age-Related Deductibles: A specific deductible that can apply to your pet based on their age.
Alternative Therapy: Treatments or medications that are not considered a part of traditional medicine.
Annual Coverage Limits: Some health insurance policies only pay for health care up to a certain dollar amount per year. The insured pet may be expected to pay any charges in excess of the pet health plans maximum.
Annual: Periods of one year, or part of a year, starting with the date this Policy was first issued, or starting with the effective date of a change in Coverage Plan.
Annual Deductible: This is the amount you must pay each year before the insurance company starts paying.
Associated Condition: Any medical problem that is directly related to and caused by a primary medical condition.
Benefit: Compensation you receive, or are guaranteed to receive, from the insurance company for incurring costs specified in your pet’s insurance policy.
Benefit Period: The number of days for which benefits are paid to the named insured.
Benefit Schedule: This is the maximum amount of money the insurance company will reimburse based on predetermined listed fee structure. Companies that use this structure tell you ahead of time the specific amounts they will pay for certain diseases.
Bi-Lateral Condition: Any Condition affecting body parts of which your pet has two, one on each side of the body (examples: ears and eyes).
Breed: Some breeds of animals are more susceptible to certain illnesses than others.
Caps: Upper limits on the amounts of money an insurance company will pay under certain circumstances. Often insurance companies also have annual caps and lifetime (the life of the insured pet).
20 year term insurance rates
Casualty: Liability or loss resulting from an accident.Chronic Diseases: Chronic diseases are diseases of long duration and generally slow progression. They are usually not curable.
Chemotherapy and Radiation Treatment Allowance: The schedule of benefits will also list the maximum reimbursement limit for chemotherapy and radiation treatment as they apply to specific conditions. These two amounts are generally split into two allowances with the allowance for radiation being much higher than that for chemotherapy.
Chronic Diseases: Chronic diseases are diseases of long duration and generally slow progression. They are usually not curable.
Claim: A request you make to the insurance company for payment of the benefits as provided by the policy.
Claim Form: The form you submit to the pet insurance company to request reimbursement for veterinary costs.
Clinical Signs: Changes in a Pet’s normal healthy state, bodily function or behavior.
Co-Insurance: The percentage of Your claim that You must pay before any applicable Deductible is applied. Sharing in the financial risk ensures that you make informed, responsible decisions about your pet’s health and treatment.
Condition: All manifestations of Clinical Signs resulting from the same diagnostic classification or disease process, regardless of the number of incidents or areas of the body affected (example: all cancer is considered one Condition).
Co-Pay: A predetermined, flat fee the pet owner pays for pet health-care services, in addition to what insurance covers. An example would be a $10 copayment for each office visit to the vet, regardless of the type or level of services provided during the visit. Copayments are not usually specified by percentages, but are stated in dollar amounts.
Coverage: The scope of protection provided under an insurance policy. In property insurance, coverage lists perils insured against, properties covered, locations covered, individuals insured, and the limits of indemnification. In life insurance, living and death benefits are listed.
Coverage Plan: The Coverage and Benefits as specified and defined in the Policy.
Covered Expenses: Treatment and procedures that are covered by the pet insurance policy. Not all treatments and procedures are covered. Let say you went to the vet for anal sac expression and treatment of a laceration on the foot. If the insurance policy states that it does not cover anal sac treatment but does cover laceration, the insurance would cover the expenses for treatment of the laceration, but not the anal sac treatment. The cost of the anal sac treatment would be paid 100% by you.
Customer Card: A printed carrying card which holds pertinent customer and insurance information, for ease of use and accessibility. This should not be construed as a legal document or as proof as a customer.
Claim Form: The form you submit to the pet insurance company to request reimbursement for veterinary costs.
Endorsements: Depending upon the insurance company you choose, you may be given the opportunity to purchase an “endorsement.” Usually this comes in the form of a cancer endorsement. This is like an add-on to your purchased insurance plan and extends the amount of coverage your pet receives for the specific illness listed – in this case, cancer.
Exclusions: Exclusions are items that are not covered by your policy. This can include: pre-existing conditions, certain musculoskeletal disorders, congenital disorders, hereditary disorders, intentional injuries caused by you or your family and elective or cosmetic procedures. Again, be sure to request a quote and go over any exclusions in detail before signing up.
Eligibility: The term eligibility generally refers to if a pet will quality for the pet insurance coverage. Eligibility will generally refer to if the pet meets the age limitations and lives in the country of coverage.
Explanation Of Benefits: A document explaining what is covered for a medical service, and how payment amount and patient responsibility amount were determined.
Genetic Condition: is a medical disorder that is inherited.
Guarantee: is the warranty or promise that if you are not satisfied with the pet insurance policy that you can cancel without penalty or obligation. Most (but not all) pet insurance companies offer a 30 day guarantee providing no claims are made during that period of time.
Guaranteed Renewable: A policy provision which guarantees the pet owner the right to renew coverage at every policy anniversary date. The company does not have the right to cancel coverage except for nonpayment of premiums by the policyowner; however, the company can raise rates if they choose provided they have specified this rate increase in the policy.
General Anesthesia Allowance: On the schedule of benefits, companies will also outline the maximum limit for general anesthesia costs as they apply to specific conditions.
Maximum Claimable Amount: The most You can claim for, as set out and explained in the Document of Insurance and the Schedule of Maximum Benefit Amounts. Any applicable Co-Insurance and Deductible may be applied to this amount.
Maximum Lifetime Payout: This is the maximum amount of money the insurance company will reimburse you during the lifetime of your pet. Once you reach this limit, you will not receive any more money and your policy will be terminated.
Maximum Payable Amount: The most an insurance company will pay, as outlined in the plan’s policy.
Maximum Payout Per Body System: This is the maximum amount of money the insurance company will reimburse for a body system, such as the digestive, musculoskeletal system, or nervous system. Once you reach this limit for a body system, you will no longer be reimbursed for an injury or illness relating to that body system.
Maximum Payout Per Incident: This is the maximum amount of money the insurance company will reimburse you for each new illness or injury. Once you reach this limit, that particular injury or illness will no longer be covered and you will not receive any more money for that particular injury or illness.
Maximum Payout Per Year: Also called Maximum Annual Payout, this is the maximum amount of money the insurance company will reimburse you each policy year. Once you reach this limit, you will not receive any more money for any injury or illness for that policy year.
MRI and CT Scans: Diagnostic tests and scans performed to determine the cause of an illness or injury are provided for in your benefits for covered conditions.
Policy Period: is the period of time that your coverage or your policy is in effect.
Pre-Existing Condition: is any illness, injury, condition or disease that was present prior to the pet insurance policy being in effect.
Premium: Is the amount the policyholder pays to the health plan to purchase health coverage. Most premiums are charged monthly however some companies offer discounts if you pay yearly.
Per-Incident Deductible: This is the amount you must pay for each new illness or injury before the insurance company starts paying. This deductible is paid once for each new illness or injury. If a pet is hit by a car, that is considered one incident and has one deductible regardless of how many times the owner must return to the veterinarian.
Policy: The written contract between you and the insurance company of your pet insurance, including all clauses, riders and endorsements.
Policy Year: 12 months starting on the date your policy begins.
Reimbursement: Is the amount compensated or recompensed to you after submission of a claim.
Renewal: The automatic re-establishment of an insurance policy at the end of term of the policy. This usually occurs when the policyholder pays another premium. Most renewals are automatic if you continue to pay the premium, but the cost of the premium may increase if there is a provision in the policy for rate increases tied to certain variable factors, such as inflation, increases in vet fees and increases in the cost of commonly prescribed medicines.
Requirements: Things you must do to remain insured (e.g. annual exams, submission of medical records, adherence to the vaccination recommendations, etc).
Routine and Preventative: Refers to preventive procedures such as vaccinations, annual exams, heartworm testing/medications, spaying/neutering, etc. These procedures helps keep your pet healthy and in turn reduces your veterinary bills.