Brush Up on the Basics Before You Buy a Policy
The North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA) estimates that nearly 45 percent of pet owners have pet health insurance coverage, based on an industry survey. And in their 2022 State of the Industry Report, they found that nearly 4.5 million pets are insured in North America.
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Can that many pet owners be wrong about pet insurance being a smart purchase? It’s ultimately up to you to decide – but you’ll need to understand the basics before you make your choice. Keep reading to discover the most important things you should know about pet health insurance before you take out a policy on Fido or Fluffy.
What Type of Pets Does Insurance Cover?
Currently, most pet health insurance policies cover cats or dogs. These are the most common household pets in the United States.
Some pet insurance providers cover exotic pets, too, such as birds, rabbits, and reptiles. Others cover large animals, like horses. However, you will need to search for a specialized plan.
Does Pet Insurance Cover Veterinary Emergencies?
Coverage depends on the plan you purchase, but in general, your pet health insurance will cover veterinary emergencies, such as injuries, accidents, and acute illness or disease.
Because emergency veterinarian visits are some of the most costly, having the best pet health insurance policy possible can save you a significant amount of money on the final bill.
Does Pet Insurance Cover Preventative Care?
Some pet health insurance plans cover preventative care, such as vaccinations and annual exams. However, you can expect to pay a slightly higher premium for all-inclusive insurance for your pet. Keep reading to learn more about insurance premiums.
Does Pet Health Insurance Cover Genetic Conditions?
The answer to this question is not clear-cut. Yes, some pet health insurance plans cover genetic conditions, but others do not.
If your pet could carry genetic conditions, you will want to look specifically for plans that will cover veterinary care to treat the symptoms.
Does Pet Insurance Cover Pre-existing Conditions?
Some pet health insurance plans cover pre-existing conditions, while others do not. However, nearly all insurance companies require you to complete a waiting period – usually about two weeks – after you’ve purchased your plan before coverage begins.
What Is a Premium?
A pet health insurance premium is the amount you pay each month to maintain coverage on your beloved pooch or kitty.
Premiums vary by plan and carrier. On average, you can expect to pay as little as $10 per month or upwards of $100 per month. The cost also depends on your pet’s age, breed, size, and overall health.
What Is a Deductible?
Like private human health insurance, your pet’s insurance has a deductible. The deductible is the amount of money you’ll pay before your reimbursement benefits begin.
Deductibles can be quite affordable, with about $250 being the most common amount. In general, the more expensive your deductible, the lower the monthly premium will be.
Some plans require an annual deductible be met, while others must be met for individual veterinary visits before reimbursement begins.
What Is an Annual Limit?
Your pet insurance plan’s annual limit is the maximum dollar amount you are eligible to be reimbursed for every year. You can choose your annual limit when shopping for insurance coverage.
In general, the higher the limit, the more your monthly premium will cost you. However, some plans offer unlimited coverage, which is a serious boon if your pet falls ill or sustains a major injury.
What Is a Reimbursement Percentage?
Just as you choose your pet health insurance plan’s ideal deductible and annual limit, you can also select the reimbursement percentage that best fits your lifestyle.
The reimbursement percentage is the rate at which you will be reimbursed for the cost of your pet’s veterinary care. Percentages usually range from 70 to 90 percent – and you pay the remainder out of pocket. The lower the reimbursement percentage, the lower the monthly premium.
How Do I Get Reimbursed?
How you get reimbursed for your pet’s veterinary care depends on your pet’s veterinarian’s process. Some veterinary offices will file the claims form for you, and charge you only the amount you’d be responsible for after insurance.
However, other veterinary practices will charge you the full amount, and when you submit the claims form to your pet’s health insurance, the insurance company will reimburse you for what they covered.
Is Pet Health Insurance a Smart Purchase?
This is perhaps the most difficult question to answer because truthfully, it depends on many factors.
Pet health insurance is a great purchase for those pet owners who know they would be unable to pay out of pocket for a surprise veterinary visit if their precious pet fell ill. It’s also great to have as your pet gets older and becomes more prone to age-related conditions.
The only way to determine if buying a pet health insurance policy is right for you and your pet is to take a look at your finances and your veterinary visit receipts for the past few years, and do some basic math to determine how much money you could be saving.