Techs work on dog at emergency vet surgery prep
Dabl At Home Dec 2020
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Dabl at Home

Is Your Dog Or Cat Properly Protected By Pet Insurance?

We compiled six questions to consider when trying to decide if pet insurance is right for you, and if so, which policy you should pick.

Just like we have health insurance to cover the costs in the event of a medical emergency, our pets need to be financially protected so they can receive proper care if they experience a medical emergency of their own. Although the majority of Americans pay their pet’s medical expenses out of pocket or rely on an emergency savings fund, about a third of pet owners rely on pet insurance

On average, a trip to the emergency vet can cost anywhere from $800 to $1,500. But if your pet needs surgery or will be hospitalized for an extended period of time, you can expect that number to skyrocket by thousands of dollars. While we love our fur babies and would do anything for them if we could, shelling out that kind of cash simply might not be possible. But if you have pet insurance, you would likely pay a more manageable $20 to $60 a month for financial assistance during medical emergencies. While every policy is a bit different, most will reimburse 60-100% of bills racked up during emergency vet visits that are associated with exam fees, diagnostic testing, and unexpected surgeries and procedures. Depending on your plan, your policy may also cover preventative care, like wellness exams and vaccines for your pet

Ultimately, you will have to decide if pet insurance is the right move for your budget and your pet. There are plenty of policies out there to choose from depending on what type of coverage you’re looking for, what you can afford to spend, and the status of your pet’s current health. If you are trying to decide between policies or if pet insurance is right for you in the first place, consider the following: 

How does pet insurance work?

It’s important to know that pet insurance generally works by reimbursing you after you pay for your pet’s medical care and vet visit. After your vet visit, you would submit your bill and proof of payment to your insurance company by filing a claim. A representative from your pet’s insurance provider will review your claim against your policy, and reimburse you if the reason for your vet visit was covered under your plan. The amount you are reimbursed will also be dependent on your policy and generally ranges from 60% to 100% reimbursement. While this does help recoup costs from expensive vet visits, you will still need to be prepared to shell out some cash upfront. 

What type of pet insurance do I want?

When looking into pet insurance plans, you will have to decide how comprehensive you want your dog or cat’s policy to be. You will be able to choose from four types of policies, which include comprehensive coverage, accident and illness coverage, accident-only coverage, and pet wellness coverage. These policies are essentially exactly how they sound. Comprehensive coverage is the most inclusive, covering everything from accidents and emergencies to hereditary conditions and treatments for all types of conditions and preventive wellness care. Accident and Illness coverage is also fairly comprehensive, but will only cover vet visits, treatments, and testing related to accidents and unexpected illnesses. Accident-only insurance is like accident & illness coverage, but the illness component is not covered under the policy. Last but not least, pet wellness coverage only provides reimbursement for preventive wellness care, like annual physical exams, flea and heartworm protection, and vaccines.  

What will impact my pet’s insurance premium? 

When we bring up your pet’s insurance premium, we are referring to the monthly amount you will need to pay in order to use your insurance when the need arises. As mentioned earlier, most plans cost between $20 and $60 a month, but that can vary depending on your pet’s details and the plan you’re interested in. Your pet’s age, species, gender, if they are fixed or not, and breed will all impact your insurance premium. Where you live, pre-existing conditions, and desired deductible and reimbursement levels can also impact the monthly fee. Generally, signing up younger pets who have been spayed or neutered is most affordable because your pet is at its healthiest and likely hasn’t developed any pre-existing conditions. If you think you’ll want to use insurance on your pet, your wallet will thank you for signing up for a policy while they’re young. 

What is excluded from my pet’s insurance policy?

Before agreeing to a pet insurance policy, make sure you have a clear understanding of what is excluded from that policy and ensure it still works for you and your pet’s needs. As you may already expect, many pet insurance policies have exclusions related to age, pre-existing conditions, experimental treatments, and non-veterinary expenses even if they are related to your pet. Your insurance also probably will not cover pet food, nutritional supplements, grooming, or behavioral training. And if you are reading this article because you are looking to protect yourself from liability in the event your dog bites another person in your home, you would need homeowners insurance instead of pet insurance. 

While those exclusions are fairly obvious and to be expected, you need to be sure you are okay with these stipulations before you are locked into a pet insurance policy. In addition, you need to check for other pet insurance exclusions that may surprise you. For example, many policies consider pregnancy to be preventable, and will therefore consider your pet’s pregnancy and birth to be completely excludable from your policy. Elective procedures, preventable diseases you can vaccinate your pet for like the flu, your pet’s death, and bilateral conditions that impact both sides of the body may also be excluded. In addition, most insurance policies have a waiting period before they go into effect so if your pet had any medical needs come up during that time they wouldn’t be eligible for reimbursement. 

How does my quote compare with policies offered by other providers? 

If you were shopping around for a good insurance policy for yourself, you would likely compare at least a few quotes and policies from different insurance carriers before making a decision. Before deciding on a pet insurance policy for your dog or cat, make sure to do your due diligence by comparing plans from different providers before making a final decision. This will help you ensure you are getting the most bang for your buck and have truly chosen the best policy for you and your pet.

Is pet insurance worth it? 

Deciding if pet insurance is worth it depends entirely on your pet’s needs, how your pet’s health and specific situation impacts your insurance premium, and what your insurance covers. It can be extremely helpful in unexpected emergency medical or disaster-level situations. For example, the most common knee injury pets suffer from is a torn ACL or CCL. If this happens, it’s unexpected and you are likely looking at a minimum of $3,000 to pay for surgery to be completed by a veterinary specialist. In that scenario, having a check come in the mail to reimburse you for the surgery costs could be a godsend. Even regular preventive exams and vaccines can cost you a few hundred dollars per visit, so budgeting out less than $100 each month to get reimbursed for your routine vet visit can be easier if you’re in a low-income household. 

Ultimately, we hope our pets will never have a severe medical emergency, but insurance is a good way to ensure you’ll have the financial means to get your pet proper medical care if something does happen. But if a medical emergency never happens, you are essentially paying for peace of mind (which is money you won’t get back) unless your insurance policy also covers preventative and wellness care. In a sense, the reassurance of financial assistance when you need it most is invaluable but it’s also a bit of a catch 22 because you never know if you’ll ever actually need it. Once you’ve done your research and considered your budget, you’ll have to make an educated decision to determine if pet insurance is right for you and your pet’s unique situation. 

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