Now that you know some of the basics on picking a pet insurance plan, it’s time for the rest:

#6 What are the companies’ different reimbursement rates and policies?

Not all companies are created equal. One dog person I know experienced it first-hand when she had her dog double-insured (this was an honest mistake in paperwork, not something she intended to do). After an $2,000 surgery, one insurance plan paid out $1,600 and another about $300. Ouch!

Make sure you know which plans pay out based on veterinary rates in your area, not on lowest common denominator veterinary options. After all, the reason you buy insurance is so you can receive high-quality veterinary care, not so you can find the cheapest vet and have a procedure performed for a pittance.

#7 How satisfied are the companies’ customers?

One way to get to the bottom of reimbursement rates is to check and see how happy an insurance carrier’s customers are. A good source for this information can be found at an independent website called Asking friends can be a resource, too, of course.

#8 What are the companies’ policies on the termination of benefits?

Some companies allow you to receive unlimited benefits for a particular condition. Others will stop you dead in your tracks after a year. Others will employ a per-episode cap on what you can claim for any one condition. A few will even reserve the right to boot you from their plan after years’ end, leaving you high and dry the same way some human insurance companies have been doing. Check the fine print on this or ask the company directly.

#9 How much in deductibles are you willing to pay?

Most pet insurance companies offer a variety of plans that reimburse for different kinds of illnesses and offer greater or fewer benefits based on the price of the policy. Another determination of the price of your monthly premium is the deductible you choose. Not all companies offer this, but it’s important to look into it. A high deductible means you’ll probably pay less in premiums while still protecting yourself from catastrophic illnesses you’ll never be able to afford.

#10 What’s your veterinarian’s recommendation?

Not all veterinarians like the idea of insurance (the currently unfounded fear of managed care and all that), but the ones that do may have favorites. Problem is, most of us don’t know much about these companies and may have favorites based on outdated information. If your veterinarian gives you lots of information and seems well-versed, take the info more seriously. But remember, we’re not all up on this financial product.

Dr. Patty Khuly