Any pet parent will want the best in health and quality of care for their furry family members. We’ll feed our cats and dogs the best food for their well-being, and provide them with love and affection, but there are just some events that are hard to control, such as unforeseen accidents and medical illnesses.
Accidents — such as a pet getting bone fractures from a car crash — are so unexpected and devastating. Other times our seemingly healthy canine or feline companion can develop chronic conditions such as cancer that require several follow-up treatments. The emotional aftershocks are enough to deal with, and the added strain of financial ramifications should not be another burden. The best and most far-sighted solution is to have a pet insurance plan to cover our pets before those unforeseen events hit us.
That seems easy enough, but when I started looking into veterinary insurance plans for pets, I realized that the pet insurance market was overwhelming and confusing. Insurance providers have different kinds of veterinary and medical benefits covered in various packages, different payment structures, and claims processes. Not only would we need a firm grasp of individual plans, but we also had to compare pet insurance companies to make sure we were paying a reasonable amount.
Here’s the result of my research in a simple and straightforward guide.
The Five Best Pieces of Advice You Need to Know About Pet Insurance
- Insure your pet as soon as possible: Insurance providers start phasing older dogs out of general medical coverage. They also universally don’t cover pre-existing conditions, so by the time Fido or Kitty develops something, it may be too late to get a plan that will pay for their diagnosis and treatment.
- Accident and Illness coverage makes the most sense: If you’re considering pet insurance, we think you may as well get coverage for accidents and illnesses to be safe. It’s reasonable to expect that at some point, your pet is going to have at least one of each. For our peace of mind, this is the option we went with.
- Research your pet’s breed history: See if there are any genetic conditions or illnesses he or she is likely to develop, and check that the insurer covers that medical event for your dog. Some plans will only cover hereditary or congenital diseases if your pet is enrolled prior to his or her second birthday.
- Read the fine print: Especially on what gets covered. Do companies cover the vet office visit fee, the diagnosis and treatment fees, and the prescription medications? I came across several companies with different policies on these.
- Understand your deductibles: Essentially, is there an annual and / or an incident limit? Is that incident limit a lifetime limit, or does it an annual incident limit that gets renewed every year? Or are you getting paid out on a fee schedule? There are diverse and creative ways to structure benefits payments.