7 Things You Should Know About Pet Insurance

by Nancy

Pet insurance is a rather new, but booming area of the insurance industry. Now more than ever, people want, and are willing to pay for, quality care for their companion animals. Veterinarians are responding to this demand by offering more and better services for pets. Advancements in veterinary care, as well as the training, equipment and facilities needed to perform this care, have contributed to rising veterinary costs over the last few decades.

Because of this, more and more insurance companies are seeing the value of offering pet insurance policies. Owners are now having to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of purchasing one of these policies. Pet insurance is actually closer to property insurance than it is to human health insurance. This means it works a little differently than your own health care policy. Owners communicate directly with the insurance company to get reimbursed rather than the vet offices sending claims to the insurers. Pet insurance can also exist aws homeowners and renters insurance policies, as well as guard against loss resulting from theft or death. Of course, policies vary, but this guide will go over the basics of pet insurance for owners with questions about this option available to them.

Age plays a major role

How old your pet is plays a significant role in their insurance policy. Some policies will not accept animals that are over a certain age – usually fourteen. For both dogs and cats, this is an advanced age where the animal is more likely to be costly to insure, which most companies see as too great a risk. This is usually the age where the animal starts experiencing issues that come with the end of life. Some companies will not take animals that are under a certain age as well, such as eight weeks. When examining any policy, see if it has age limitations and what those limitations might be. If you do not know your new pet’s age, your veterinarian can help make that determination.

Age is a major factor in purchasing a policy if you choose to do so later in your animal’s life. Just like people, animals are more prone to developing health problems as they age. An older pet with pre-existing conditions will be more expensive to insure. Usually, however, while the policy will not cover that pre-existing condition, it will cover any new conditions that animal develops. Just because your pet is old is not one of the reasons to discard the idea of coverage.

Breed Influences Cost

Certain breeds deemed to be “high risk” may cost a greater amount to insure or may not be insured at all. These are many of the same breeds you see excluded from dog daycare centers and rental leases. Some examples of breeds that have been blacklisted by the insurance companies include “pit bulls,” Chow Chows, Akitas, Doberman Pinschers, wolf hybrids, and even Siberian Huskies and German Shepherds. This is largely because these breeds are considered more aggressive than other breeds. Another factor is the health history of certain breeds. The cost of a policy for a breed such as a Dalmatian or Cocker Spaniel might also be more expensive because of the perceived risk of covering a breed that has known significant health problems.

Pet Insurance is a reimbursement model

Because this form of insurance works like property coverage, owners submit claims after the care has been received for reimbursement of the costs. Your company will want to see the bill so they can determine how much you will be reimbursed. Owners must be prepared to pay all required costs up front to their veterinarian before getting reimbursed later by their policy. Different plans will have different percentages of reimbursement. For example, in an 80:20 plan, the insurer will pay 80% of the covered costs to the owner after the deductible. The owner is then responsible for 20%, which includes the co-payment and deductible.

3 Types of Pet coverage

There are three types of companion animal insurance available. These include:

  • Health Coverage

Basic coverage is similar to human catastrophic plans in that it will help pay for accidental injuries, poisonings and illnesses. This usually does include cancer, which is a significant benefit. Note that basic coverage does not cover regular, preventative care expenses, such as office visits and prescriptions.

Comprehensive coverage has more generous benefits, although it is more expensive. It does cover things like office visits, prescriptions and diagnostic tests. It also usually covers lab fees and X-rays. Premiums are generally much higher than for basic coverage.

  • Life and Theft Insurance

If your pet is a valuable show animal or athlete, you also might want to consider life and theft coverage. These plans provide payouts if a championship show animal is stolen or killed by covered events.

  • Homeowners and Renters Insurance

Pets are an important part of your homeowners and renters coverage as well. Advantages include having payouts to defend you in court if your pet bites someone while in your home or rental. As outlined above, breeds considered a high bite risk are more expensive to insure, and some companies might choose not to take the risk. These policies can also cover items you purchase for your pet, and are particularly helpful if you have expensive animal supplies.

How premiums are calculated

Premiums are calculated based on a number of factors and reasons. Insurance companies evaluate risk factor, which includes breed, age, the animal’s health history, any history of aggression and more. When you fill out an application, you will be asked questions and the company providing coverage might look into the history of the animal. For some plans, animals with pre-existing conditions may be denied benefits. This is often why it is best to buy a life policy when your pet is young, as it will likely be more expensive or even impossible to get later in your animal’s life.

Overseas coverage

If your pet is going overseas with you, what then? Some policies do cover your animal if you are stationed overseas. If you are in the military, some companies offer discounts for members of the armed forces. This overseas coverage also applies to overseas travel. Some plans many include this, while others will offer it as an add-on. Going overseas with a pet can be extremely stressful, especially if they are going to be in cargo areas of airplanes. Being covered in the case of an accident or other misfortune can put your mind at ease.

Most pet policies won’t pay out for dental treatment

Dental treatment is one health area most policies will not cover. This includes procedures like teeth cleaning, teeth removal and root canals. For this reason, it is advisable for owners to get into the habit of brushing their animal’s teeth throughout their lives. This will reduce the likelihood of your animal needing dental care. Some plans will offer animal dental insurance as an add-on. However, it is infrequently included in medical plans. It is important for owners to know what their policy covers and what it does not before agreeing to any procedure. If your breed is particularly susceptible to dental problems, finding a plan that offers the add-on might be worth it.