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Pet insurance (also known as pet health insurance) helps cover the cost of veterinary care if your pet becomes ill or injured.
Pet insurance is a reimbursement program. This means you pay your veterinary bill and then file a claim with the pet insurance company for reimbursement. There are no insurance cards or copays to present to your veterinarian. Co-pays are applied when you file your claim with the insurance company
How the process works:
1. Get a bill from your veterinarian.
2. Pay entirety of the bill to your veterinarian.
3. Download a claim form from your pet insurance company's website.
4. Fill out the claim form.
5. Submit claim form to the pet insurance company.
6. Your pet insurance company sends you a reimbursement check for "covered expenses" minus the copay and deductible.
What is the cost of pet insurance?
The average cost for comprehensive pet insurance is between $30-40 per month. Your actual cost will vary depending on:
* The age, gender, breed and species of your pet
* Where you live
* The amount of medical coverage you choose
* The amount of monetary coverage you choose
* The deductible you choose
* The co-pay you choose
Will pet insurance save me money?
If your pet stays relatively healthy you will pay more in premiums than you get back in reimbursement. Insurance is not designed to be used as an investment tool. Insurance is designed to be used as a risk management tool. You do not buy homeowners, auto, or human health insurance in the hopes that enough things will go wrong so you can get your money back. The same applies to pet insurance.
Pet health insurance (like any other insurance) should be used to give you a peace of mind against unexpected, financially catastrophic medical events. The key is to make sure you buy a pet insurance plan with medical and monetary coverage that suits your situation.
What can I do if I can't afford the premium?
If you can't afford the pet insurance premium you have a few options:
1. Try increasing the co-pay and/or deductible, if applicable. If you choose a high deductible (e.g. $250 or more), make sure it is an annual deductible not a per-incident deductible or the insurance may never kick in.
Even if you are able to get the premium within your budget using this technique, the premium can increase over time. Make sure you take this into consideration.
2. Remove the routine and wellness portion of the plan. This type of care refers to preventive procedures such as vaccinations, annual exams, heartworm testing/medications, spaying/neutering, and routine diagnostic tests (CBC and Chemistry Panel). Many people find that they can budget for these expected procedures and pay for them out of their own pocket.
3. You can entertain the idea of an accident only policy, but please read "What is an Accident Only Policy?" below first.
Pet health insurance falls under the category of property and casualty insurance, not health insurance. Because it is a form of property and casualty insurance, the contract agreement is between the pet insurance company and the insured. Therefore payments go directly to the insured.
What type of pets are covered by pet health insurance?
In general, pet health insurance companies cover only dogs and cats. There is one pet insurance company that also covers certain exotic pets (e.g. rabbits, ferrets, reptiles).
At what age should I consider pet insurance for my pet?
The best time to get pet insurance is as early as possible before medical problems develop. This is because pre-existing conditions are not covered by pet insurance. So the fewer the number of pre-existing conditions or medical problems your pet has before you apply for pet insurance, the better.
Are there any pet insurance companies that cover pre-exisiting conditions?
No, there are no pet insurance companies in the U.S. that cover pre-existing conditions.
Should I get Wellness and Routine Coverage?
Wellness and routine care refers to preventive procedures such as vaccinations, annual exams, heartworm testing/medications, spaying/neutering, dental cleanings as a prophylaxis, and routine diagnostic tests (CBC and Chemistry Panel).
These procedures are very important in maintaining the health of your pet, as they prevent disease or catch disease early. This helps keep your pet healthy and in turn reduces your veterinary bills.
Most pet insurance companies offer wellness and routine coverage as an optional add-on for an additional cost. Make sure you ask the company what type of procedures are covered and what the monetary limits are.
Sometimes the cost of adding Wellness & Routine Care to your plan ends up being more than it would cost if you paid for these procedures out of your own pocket, so do the math before buying the plan. Ask your veterinarian for assistance if you need help determining your out-of-pocket costs for wellness and routine care.
What is an accident-only policy?
An accident-only policy covers veterinary services related to accidents and injuries. It does not cover veterinary services related to illnesses. Accident-only policies are cheaper than comprehensive accident and illness policies because they do not cover costly illnesses. Also, as a pet ages, the number of accident related injuries decreases in comparison to the number of illness-related conditions.
What a pet owner considers to be an accident is not necessarily what a pet insurance company considers to be an accident. For example, some pet insurance companies do not cover conditions like foreign body ingestions or cruciate injuries in their accident-only policies. If you intend to buy an accident-only policy, make sure you understand what is covered.