Every pet parent’s worst nightmare is not being able to help if their furry friend gets sick or injured unexpectedly. And if you’re a pet parent like me – with nine furry friends (and counting) – it can be even more of a worry.
Veterinarians witness pet parents making the agonizing choice between paying for care they can’t afford and seeking alternative (and usually less effective) treatments every day.
With veterinary care being the second highest annual pet-related expense people face, according to the American Pet Products Association, more and more are turning to pet insurance for a financial peace of mind.
But with more than a dozen providers in the market, picking the right pet insurance can be daunting. What should you ask before buying a policy? Here are 3 important questions you need to ask before buying pet insurance:
1. Does the policy cover all illnesses and injuries as standard?
A good value plan will include coverage for hereditary and chronic conditions as standard – which means there’s no need to purchase add-ons to basic coverage. Options to buy things like hip dysplasia riders or coverage for chronic diseases like cancer or diabetes should raise a red flag.
Chronic conditions should also be covered into old age; some companies cover chronic conditions initially then exclude the condition as pre-existing during the next policy term. A good policy covers chronic conditions for life.
2. Are there limits on how much the provider will reimburse for different conditions?
Some providers use what’s called a benefit schedule to determine how much they will pay out for a specific condition, and this is often a source of dissatisfaction from pet parents. Say a company pays up to $395 for an allergic reaction, but a pet’s reaction requires a hospital stay and fluid therapy that costs $1,500.
A benefit schedule plan will reimburse $395, regardless of complications that arise or additional treatments needed to resolve the condition. A provider that reimburses based on actual veterinary fees will cover the entire bill (minus the deductible and optional co-pay). Per-incident or per-illness caps should tell pet parents to move on to another provider.
3. Are pre-existing conditions covered?
This is a trick question, because no pet insurance provider can cover pre-existing conditions. Pet parents simply can’t receive a cancer diagnosis and then go out and buy a pet insurance policy to pay for the treatments.
There are, however, insurance providers who make a distinction between curable and incurable conditions – reinstating coverage for curable conditions, like a urinary tract infection, after a certain amount of time passes with no recurrence. Pet parents should ask about this before buying coverage.
Pet parents are turning to pet insurance for a financial safety net like never before. When your pet is family and you’d do anything to keep him healthy, the advantage of protecting him with insurance – the right insurance – is clear.
Written by Dr. Jules Benson, Petplan pet insurance Chief Veterinary Medical Officer.
Petplan is offering Petcube subscribers a 10% discount on your policy. Simply sign up for Petplan online with the code PETCUBE to get 10% off. Visit Petplan.com to get started.