Pet health insurance can save you thousands of dollars on pet health bills.
Facing a medical emergency with your pet isn’t only scary, it’s expensive. When you have pet health insurance, you can minimize your costs, getting financial help as you help your pet get the necessary medical care. Many companies offer pet insurance, but they aren’t created equal. Keep reading to learn what you should look for when buying pet insurance.
The Type of Coverage
While you don’t want to think of your pet getting sick, you should plan for the worst and hope for the best. Do research on your pet’s breed. What are the most common ailments they suffer? At the very least, you’ll want insurance that covers those issues.
You should also look for coverage for common issues such as broken bones, birth defects, genetic issues, and common illnesses like diabetes. Your pet insurance should also cover things like x-rays, specialty imaging services, cancer treatment, and surgery.
Just like your own health insurance, pet health insurance has deductibles. The amount of your deductible directly affects your monthly premium. It also affects the amount you are responsible for before the insurance will pay their portion.
You’ll find pet insurance policies with deductibles that go up to $1,000. Think about how much you can and are willing to spend out of pocket before insurance kicks in. Consider the worst-case scenario when figuring out how much deductible you want to take. If you had to put up $1,000 right now, could you? That will help you decide what you should do.
Many pet health insurance policies have what they call flexible deductibles. These are a little different than the deductibles we pay on human health insurance. Some companies offer a one-time deductible for chronic issues or there are policies where you can pick the deductible for each type of incident. Pay close attention to the deductibles when making your choices.
Of course, a lot of emphasis should be on the premiums. This is the amount you’ll pay monthly. You pay the premium whether you use the insurance or not, so give it careful consideration. It’s another monthly bill you must add to your budget.
If you let your premiums lapse, you run the risk of losing the insurance. Make sure you choose the best combination between the premiums and the deductible, ensuring that both are affordable for you in the long run.
Of course, the whole point of pet health insurance is reimbursement. Each insurance company works differently.
Most companies have what’s called a co-pay. The insurance company will kick in their portion after you meet your deductible. You then owe the rest. For example, if the insurance company provides you with a 70/30 plan, after you meet your deductible, the insurance company will pay 70% of the usual and customary charges and you pay the remaining 30%.
You’ll find insurance companies that offer co-pays varying from 70% up to 100%. The lower the insurance company’s portion, the lower the premium is, typically. But, the less the insurance company pays, the more you owe for each incident.
Once you reach your deductible, though, the insurance company covers the treatments for the remainder of the year at the percentage you chose. For example, if you have a $1,000 deductible and 80% co-insurance, the insurance company would pay 80% of the covered services after you pay the first $1,000 in charges.
Examples of Pet Health Insurance Companies
- Figo – Figo offers three insurance policies for pets each with different annual maximums of $5,000, $10,000 or unlimited. Figo offers no deductible options for life-saving services and you can see any US-based veterinarian. Figo reimburses clients within 30 days, has great customer service, and offers a user-friendly app that makes it easy to keep track of your insurance documents.
- Nationwide – The same company that insures humans, insures pets too. You are free to use a veterinarian; you don’t have to stick to a specific network. Nationwide covers most medical services including x-rays, illnesses, lab work, prescriptions, and hospitalization. Nationwide is one of the largest pet health insurance companies and they insure most types of animals.
- Embrace – Embrace offers health insurance for dogs and cats. They cover most conditions and treatment including hospitalization, x-rays, and surgery. Embrace offers a unique benefit that if you don’t use your insurance in a year, you reduce your deductible by $50. This continues for every year you don’t use the coverage.
Should you Consider Buying Pet Health Insurance?
The bigger question is should you buy pet insurance? Like any other financial decision, this is a personal decision. However, pet insurance can save you quite a bit of money should your pet experience an emergency, need surgery, or hospitalization.
While wellness coverage can often be pointless, as it only saves you a little bit of money each year, comprehensive coverage can potentially save you thousands of dollars depending on your pet’s health. If you can fit the premiums into your budget, it’s worth considering. Just make sure you shop around and find a company that offers the coverage you need at a price that you can afford.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming all pet insurance is the same. Ask specific questions about your breed, any medical conditions your pet already has, and any expenses you want to save on should your pet experience serious medical issues. Know the annual limits, deductibles, and premiums so that you know exactly what you are getting when you buy pet insurance. Also pay close attention to the network of veterinarians that you must use (if any) to ensure that you can still see your chosen vet, if you already have one.