Everything You Need to Know About Pet Insurance

Pet insurance is often an afterthought or viewed as an unnecessary luxury, but a high-quality pet insurance policy within your budget can save you money and headaches in case of a pet-related medical emergency. No one wants to be susceptible to major medical expenses if they can avoid them.

Your pet is part of your family, so it deserves the best care possible. A standard pet healthcare policy can offset some of the medical expenses and even prevent you from having to make the difficult decision of denying your pet medical care or putting your pet down. In the rare case of a serious accident or injury, a comprehensive pet insurance plan can protect your furry friend.

What is Pet Insurance?

Pet health insurance helps protect you from expensive veterinary costs in case of an illness or injury. Pet insurance companies will cover a pre-determined percentage of qualified treatments. You will have to pay monthly insurance premiums that cover certain medical expenses although many common pet treatments are excluded.

Similar to your health insurance, pet insurance requires you to pay a small amount, also known as a deductible, of the costs and the insurance company covers the rest. Your pet will have to get treatment and you will have to pay out-of-pocket first. Afterward, you can file a claim with your pet insurance company and get reimbursed within a few days or couple of weeks.

Types of Pet Insurance Plans

Most pet owners want the best for their trusty companion. If you’re thinking of a purchasing pet insurance plan, do some preliminary comparison shopping to determine the ideal plan for your pet’s needs. The following are the most common types of pet insurance plans:

  • Accident-Only Plans
    As its name suggests, accident-only plans only cover medical treatment in the event of a pet accident. Accident-only plans may cover broken bones and scrapes, but not a major illness. Only a small percentage of pet owners opt for accident-only plans.

  • Accident and Illness Plans
    Accident and Illness pet insurance plans cover both accidents and illnesses including infectious diseases, cancer, digestive issues, and allergies. This plan accounts for the majority of pet insurance plans purchased.

  • Insurance with Embedded Wellness
    Also referred to as Wellness/Preventative Care, insurance with embedded wellness covers accidents, illnesses, and some preventative treatments like vaccinations, heartworm tests, rabies, flea/tick prevention, and teeth cleaning.

  • Endorsements
    Some pet insurance companies may offer endorsements, or add-ons, to your insurance plan that extend your coverage. Common endorsements include cancer coverage and wellness add-ons like acupuncture and physical therapy.


Common Exclusions

Make sure to read the fine print before signing a pet insurance contract. Standard pet insurance policies will cover most illnesses and accidents, but some will exclude common conditions that affect many pets. From standard vaccinations to alternative therapies, many services are not covered and may require you to purchase insurance endorsements.

Common exclusions can also include genetic testing, prosthetics, cell replacement therapy, and organ transplants. In addition, travel and boarding expenses, micro-chipping, and elective surgeries are typically not covered. 

Some of the most common pet insurance exclusions include the following:

  • Dental Disease
    Dental disease or damage is typically not covered in most standard pet insurance policies. This means that you won’t be able to be reimbursed for the costs of your pet’s broken tooth, gingivitis, or dental cleaning. Insurance with embedded wellness will cover dental accidents and illnesses.

  • Pre-existing Conditions
    Any illness or injury that existed before the required waiting period is considered a pre-existing condition. If a veterinarian finds a pre-existing condition in your pet, it won’t be covered. They may however offer care for curable pre-existing conditions under certain circumstances. Some companies do make distinctions between curable and incurable pre-existing conditions.

  • Behavioral Issues
    Behavioral issues like separation anxiety, aggression, barking, or chewing aren’t covered under most pet insurance policies. You won’t be reimbursed for pet training or behavioral modification therapy costs.

  • Routine Check-Up/Preventative Care
    Preventative exams, treatments, and procedures are not covered in a standard pet insurance plan, unless you are paying for a wellness plan or wellness endorsement.
     
  • Infectious Diseases
    Most pet insurance companies won’t cover infectious diseases such as canine hepatitis or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). Infections caused by ticks, worms, or fleas are excluded as well.
     
  • Pregnancy
    Any costs relating to a pet’s pregnancy won’t be covered under a pet insurance policy. Treatment costs for procedures such as planned caesarian births, artificial insemination, prenatal examinations, and fertility treatments will also not be reimbursed.

  • Hip Dysplasia
    Even though large dogs commonly suffer from hip dysplasia, or deterioration of the hip joints, some insurance companies won’t cover hip dysplasia if it’s a pre-existing condition. Many insurance companies will cover it if the illness is found after insurance coverage begins.
     
  • Grooming
    Grooming, bathing, shampoos, baths, and nail trims are not covered under most pet insurance policies.

Benefits of Pet Insurance

Pet health insurance gives you peace of mind knowing that you won’t have to choose between sky-high veterinarian costs and healing your pet. For example, cancer treatments and surgeries for accidents and injuries can cost thousands of dollars. On very rare occasions, pet owners are put in the precarious position of having to put their pet down due to prohibitively expensive treatment costs.

Many pet owners may think that they can’t afford pet insurance. Fortunately, pet insurance is within many owners’ budgets. Pet insurance for dogs can range from $25 to $70 per month. Insurance for cats can cost anywhere from $10 to $40 per month. 

Besides protecting your pet at a low cost, pet insurance has many other benefits:

  • You can save money in the case of a serious injury or illness
  • You can rest easy knowing that your pet is covered
  • Your pet can receive all the tests needed for an accurate diagnosis
  • You can choose your own veterinarian
  • You don’t have to dip into your hard-earned savings

How Does Pet Insurance Work?

Pet insurance works differently than your normal health insurance. Before insurance companies decide to cover your dog or cat, you’ll have to go through a waiting period of a few days and be required to get your pet checked out by a veterinarian. If no pre-existing conditions are found, your pet insurance company will begin coverage.

As mentioned above, you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket when receiving treatment and then file a claim with your pet insurance company. The insurance company will look over your claim and deposit money into your account or send you a check if approved, which you’ll receive in a few weeks, at the latest. Reimbursements depend on the following insurance policy conditions: 

  • Deductible
    A deductible is the amount of money you have to pay for a vet bill. Depending on your policy, you may have to pay annually or per incident. Per incident deductibles must be paid for each new injury or illness. Annual deductibles will be paid every year. For annual deductibles, you will not be reimbursed until you have a total greater than your annual deductible.
     
  • Reimbursement Level
    Your reimbursement level is the percentage of the vet bill that is covered by your pet insurance company. Covered insurance costs range between 50% and 100% of the bill.
     
  • Annual Max
    An annual max amount is the total cost that your pet insurance company will cover per year. If your pet requires more than the allotted annual maximum, you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket.
     

Pet Insurance Rates

Your pet insurance rates will depend on the type of pet insurance plan you have and other little-known factors. For example, you may have to pay higher-than-normal rates if you have a specific breed or live in a certain part of the country. If you want your pet insurance company to cover most of an incident’s costs, then you’ll probably end up with a high monthly payment. You can pay lower insurance premiums if your insurance company covers a limited portion of your annual medical expenses.

Pet insurance rates are also affected by add-ons and procedures you want to be covered. Essentially, your chosen deductible, reimbursement level, and annual max will heavily affect your insurance rate. 

Your pet insurance rates will also be affected by the following factors: 

  • Species
    Pet insurance is generally higher for dogs than for cats. Male dogs will be on the highest end of the insurance rate spectrum, while female cats will cost you the least.

  • Age 
    As one might guess, older pets are more expensive to insure. Your longtime pal is more prone to health complications. Younger pets may not require pet health insurance, even though their insurance costs are lower than older pets’. Insurance companies may also delay coverage until your pet reaches a certain age, usually within 6 to 10 weeks of being born. Older pets may only have the option of accident-only coverage.
     
  • Breed
    Most pet insurance rates will vary by the breed of dog or cat. Dogs like Golden Retrievers, Bulldogs, and Labrador Retrievers will have higher rates than Beagles. Cats such as British Shorthairs or Persian cats will be more expensive to insure than a Ragdoll cat.

  • Location
    Veterinarian costs are typically higher in larger cities than in smaller ones. As a result, insurance premiums will be higher in densely populated cities like New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
     

Pet Insurance Considerations

Pet insurance can be a difficult cost to justify or pay. Pet health coverage may not be for everyone, especially for pets that rarely get sick or injured. The problem is that expensive conditions can happen at any time to your pet. Consider your monthly budget cap for insurance and low out-of-pocket costs if you want to have peace of mind with pet insurance, but not break the bank. In addition, your pet’s medical history will help you determine what pet insurance plan you need, if any.

If pet insurance is something you’re considering, don’t hesitate to speak with a pet insurance company as soon as possible. For comprehensive pet insurance, seek help from an agent from Acceptance Insurance who can help you find the right pet insurance plan, endorsements, and rates for your pet’s insurance needs.