As a pet parent, you want the best for your furry family member. But vet bills can add up quickly, and many pet owners don’t have the cash on hand for unexpected expenses. That’s why pet insurance is important — it can help you pay for medical costs when your pet needs them. But before you decide to buy a policy, do your research.
There are many online education centers devoted to pet insurance, including policies and company reviews, term definitions and explanations, and questions consumers should ask themselves and companies they’re considering. Some offer a comparison tool to compare different insurers.
A key consideration when choosing a pet health insurance plan is its coverage for pre-existing conditions. A pre-existing condition is an illness or injury that occurred before your pet’s insurance coverage began, or during a waiting period for certain plans.
To prevent fraud, insurers have a number of requirements for a claim to be paid. Often, the first step is for you or your vet to submit all medical records and other information related to your pet’s case to the insurer. Then, the insurer will review and approve or deny the claim.
Depending on the type of pet health insurance you choose, there are various ways claims can be processed. For example, some plans offer direct reimbursements where the insurer pays your veterinarian directly to cover a portion of the bill. Other pet health insurance plans require you to pay the vet upfront and then file a claim for reimbursement. You can usually submit claims via your insurer’s website, by phone or by mail.
Some plans offer lifetime policies that will cover your pet for their entire life as long as you keep the policy renewed. Others have a maximum benefit limit, meaning once the max amount is reached you’ll no longer be able to get additional payments for that illness or injury.
Many pet health insurance providers offer optional add-ons for additional peace of mind and to save you money. For example, a policy with supplemental behavioral coverage may pay toward the cost of treatment for destructive chewing, excessive licking or fur pulling, pacing and barking, and other behavioral issues. Some policies will also include coverage for the loss or theft of your pet.
Other add-ons can include dental care (including cleaning and extraction), alternative therapies, prescription medications, food, vaccines, boarding fees, advertising and reward costs for your lost pet, burial or cremation costs, and liability coverage if your pet injures someone else’s property.