Pet Insurance - Do You Need It
We love our pets. They are family. As a pet owner myself, I have often contemplated the need for pet insurance and whether the cost was worth it. It's no secret, the best time to get pet insurance, like life insurance, is when your pet is young and healthy.
The purpose of pet insurance is to provide coverage for unexpected injuries or illness. Insurance is meant to protect you from the unknowns. Most, if not all pet insurance companies exclude pre-existing conditions. A pre-existing condition is any injury or illness whose symptoms were showing before the start of your pet's policy or during the policies' waiting period (waiting periods vary for different conditions).
There is often a lot of frustration during claim time. Often claims are denied because of misinformation or lack of clarity on what is and is not covered. As part of the application process, you are making the representation that your Pet is in good health, free of illness or injury. However, a pet insurance carrier cannot determine specific condition's of eligibility until a claim is actually submitted. This is why is crucial to have good medical records. Your pet should have medical records prior to applying for pet insurance. This will help establish a healthy baseline and note any pre-existing conditions. You then must insure that your pet receives an annual health check and any treatment suggested by your veterinarian to prevent illness or injury.
Most pet insurance companies require you to first pay the medical bills first and then submit a claim for potential reimbursement
Once you are clear about your duty as a pet owner and the important pre-existing condition exclusion, you may be ready to dive into what is covered and not covered by a pet insurance policy.
Some typical coverages on a pet insurance policy may include:
*New illness and accidents
Diagnostic tests related to covered illnesses/accidents
FDA approved, prescription medications
Emergency Services, Surgeries or Hospitalization - Medically necessary and related to a covered illness or injury.
Orthopedic conditions - after the 6-month orthopedic waiting period
Prosthetics & Mobility Devices
See policy for full details on benefits, exclusions, and limitations.
What's Not Covered
Below it what typically is not covered:
Routine wellness or preventative care
Spaying or neutering
Preventative Dental Care
Prescription food (some carriers have option to add this coverage as an add-on)
Deductibles and Coinsurance
Some pet insurance companies may require you to pay a deductible per incident (like car or home insurance). While other companies may only have one annualized deductible (like health insurance). Once that annual deductible is met, you're done for the year.
However, you are still responsible for paying for the coinsurance. Your coinsurance is the difference between the reimbursement percentage you have chosen and 100% (example: a 80% reimbursement would have a 20% coinsurance)
Let's say, Rocco "The Insurance Dog", got treated at the Vet for ingesting a piece of a toy (foreign object) left out by his little human brother. The vet bill was a frightening $3,985.00. The deductible was $100 and the reimbursement was at 90%. Rocco's parent would be responsible for $488.50 and the pet insurance company may be responsible for $3,496.50.
Optional Add-On Plans
Some pet insurance companies allow you to customize your plan by adding add-ons
Veterinary Exam Fees for Accident and Illness Visit
This benefit is to help cover exam or consultation fees associated with the diagnosis and treatment of your pet for an eligible illness or accident. It is not intended to cover exam fees related to routine, wellness, or preventative visits.
Routine care coverage, including dental, can be added to any plan to help pay for vaccinations, spay/neuter, bloodwork, heartworm preventive, and more.
It's always cheapest to buy insurance when the pet is young. However, the annual premium will steadily rise.
Because one of the factors that determines the cost of your pet insurance is your pet's age - just like with humans - as pets age, they are more likely to become sick or injured, and so, every year when your policy renews, you generally can expect to see increases. Additionally, factors such as rising cost of vet care in your area, inflation, etc. can also effect the increases as well.
Hope this helps!
*The content contained in this blog is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered insurance advice since every client's needs and circumstances are different. Bergen Insurance Group, LLC makes no representation as to accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All statements represent the sole opinion of the author and is provided on an as-is basis. For an actual description of all coverages, terms and conditions, refer to your insurance policy.