By Frances Wilkerson, DVM
There are some things you should do before buying a pet insurance plan. By educating and preparing yourself, you will have much more success during your pet insurance quest.
1. Make sure you have a good understanding of how to best use pet insurance.
Pet insurance, like any other type of insurance, is best used to help manage financial risk. It should not be looked at as a way to save money, as you will pay more in premiums than you receive as reimbursements if your pet stays relatively healthy.
Pet insurance is used to help soften a catastrophic financial hit. Make sure you are getting great medical and monetary coverage for the incidents that tend to be unexpected and financially catastrophic.
2. Find out what the "Worst Case Scenario Costs" are for your area.
Veterinary costs vary across the country. In general, costs in urban areas tend to be more than the costs in rural areas. To determine these costs where you live, ask your veterinarian to give you the "Worst Case Scenario Costs" for the following situations (these are the situations that are the most costly in veterinary medicine):
- Emergencies (e.g. Fractures, Foreign Body Ingestion, Accidental Poisonings, Bloat, Urinary Blockage)
- Chronic diseases (e.g. Chronic Renal Failure, Heart Disease, Liver Disease, Diabetes Mellitus, Cancer).
- Sudden, Severe diseases (e.g. Acute Renal Failure, Acute Pancreatitis)
Let your veterinarian know if you will take advantage of high end procedures to diagnose and treat your pet (e.g. MRI, dialysis), as this will increase your "Worst Case Scenario Costs.”
If you find, after speaking with your veterinarian, that you cannot afford these costs or if paying these costs would be a catastrophic financial hit for you, you may want to consider pet insurance.
3. Make sure you do not pick pet insurance solely based on the cost of the premium.
If you do, you will not get the right medical and monetary coverage for your individual situation.
4. Do your own research.
While other people can give you their recommendations, it is important that you research the options. Find out which pet insurance companies and plans meet your medical coverage requirements, maximum payout requirements, and other important requirements as stated in articles: "Questions to Ask When Choosing a Pet Health Insurance Provider" and "Questions to Ask When Choosing a Pet Health Insurance Plan"
5. Read the terms and conditions of the policy you are planning to buy.
The requirements and exclusions to the insurance policy are especially important information.
6. Ask the pet insurance company for a list of exclusions based on your pet's past medical history and breed.
A medical review will give you a list of the exclusions you can expect based on your pet's prior history. If you don't like what is on this list, you can cancel the policy within the money back guarantee period. Make sure that the pet insurance company will have this review done well before the money back guarantee expires so that you have adequate time to review it.