The Basics of Pet Insurance Coverage

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An astounding number of pet owners purchased insurance for their pets last year with 4.8 million pets covered by pet insurance in 2022. With vet bills on the rise, purchasing pet medical coverage allows an owner to choose the best treatments for their pet without worrying about their own financial restrictions. Continue reading to learn more about the basics of pet insurance including how it works, what types are available, what they cover and how to pick the right coverage plan for you and your pet.

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What is Pet Insurance? 

Similar to human health insurance, pet medical covrage helps to offset the total medical cost for pets.  Pet insurance is not mandatory by law, but is seen as a great option for aiding in paying costly vet bills. 

How Does It Work? 

Pet insurance works as a reimbursement plan. The pet owner pays the vet bills up front and then submits a claim to their insurance company. The reimbursement percentage options are usually 70% – 90%. The pet owner can also choose the deductible and annual limit. The deductible has to be reached before any reimbursement is given back. The annual limit determines the dollar amount that can be claimed in a year. 

How is the Cost Determined? 

The average cost of pet insurance can range from $9 to $90 dollars per month. These numbers depend on the coverage plan, type of pet, breed, gender, age and even location. States regulate animal health coverage and have different demands for insurers and their services. Local governments take into consideration the general cost of living in that particular area, and they require the pet insurers’ prices to reflect those figures. 

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Types of Pet Insurance Plans and What They Cover 

The three main types of pet medical coverage are comprehensive, accident-only and basic wellness care. Comprehensive gives the broadest coverage. It’s also called accident and illness coverage as it insures both. This type of plan covers hereditary problems, congenital conditions, surgeries, treatments, diagnostic tests and chronic illness as long as they are not pre-existing conditions. Accident-only does not cover illness – only accidents such as broken bones, swallowed objects, ingestions and cuts. Basic wellness care is usually an add-on for the other two pet insurance coverages. This plan covers routine checkups, annual exams, dental cleanings, vaccinations and bloodwork. 

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What About Pre-existing Conditions? 

The majority of pet health insurance companies do not cover incurable pre-existing conditions. A curable pre-existing condition is a health problem that is temporary, like an ear infection for example. The pet owner must show proof that the animal is symptom free and treatment free for a period of time before insurance coverage can go into effect. 

Incurable pre-existing conditions are chronic illnesses that cannot be cured and that are reoccurring. These health concerns need on-going treatment. Pet insurance companies turn away pets that have shown signs of an incurable health condition or are already diagnosed with one prior to the owner getting pet health coverage. Examples of incurable conditions are diabetes, allergies, epilepsy, some types of cancer, disc disease and hip dysplasia. 

How to Pick the Best Insurance Plan for You and Your Pet 

Compare insurance policies and coverage options and predict what your pet may need in the future. Take into consideration any breed-specific ailments that are common in your type of cat or dog. Pay attention to the limitations and exclusions of each insurance policy. Factor in the overall cost. Some insurance plans may not be the top of the line but still cover what your pet needs for a lower price.

Look at additional benefits that companies offer like vet direct pay or telemedicine options. Customer service may be an important factor in which company you choose. Things like hours of operation, average time for claim reimbursement or availability of customer service representatives all influence how convenient the pet medical plan is for pet owners. Click on this link to see the best pet insurance in 2023 according to Forbes. 

Preventative Step in Protecting Your Pet’s Health 

Insurance provides important coverage for pets and aids in paying high vet bills. Pet owners have choices between different coverages and costs in order to align with their budgets and their pets’ needs.

The time to debate whether or not to purchase pet medical coverage is not when the cat or dog gets sick, but before any signs or symptoms appear. Once an animal is labeled as having a pre-existing condition, the majority of pet insurance companies will not accept that application. Do research or ask a breeder if there are any common health conditions that commonly affect your particular kind of cat or dog. Give yourself and your pet the best chance at the best treatment in case an accident or illness happens. 

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