Pet health insurance is just as important as our own. We adopt pets because we want to give them a loving home and make them part of our family. Vaccines, surgeries, and checkups are a necessary part of giving them a high quality of life.
They need medical care just like we do. Animal insurance costs are becoming affordable as more pet owners realize that their furry children need medical care, too. Newborns, middle-aged, and senior pets need different types of veterinarian services.
Medical insurance for animals is similar to regular health insurance and can be tweaked to meet your pet’s needs. You should also think about unplanned circumstances that can occur. Accidents can happen to anyone, even our beloved pets. What would you do if your dog broke his leg? Or if your cat needed stitches?
Having health care for pets means you can get them the medical attention they need without being slammed with outrageous medical bills. Having pet health care insurance means you won’t have to decide between diving into years of debt to save your pets life or saving money by putting him down.
Understanding Pet Insurance
Pet insurance is not considered medical insurance for pets. By law, it’s categorized as a form of property insurance. Because pets have no rights, they cannot qualify for insurance as a living being. However, humans are legally allowed to own property. Therefore, pets are property which makes them eligible for property insurance.
Companies that provide coverage for pets offer plans similar to that of human health insurance. You’ll be required to enroll in a plan, make a monthly payment, pay a co-payment, and see only providers in your designated network.
Paying and Reimbursing vet fees
Health care for pets differs from human health care plans in one extreme. Pet insurance will not bill or pay the veterinarian. After receiving services, you must pay out of pocket, file a claim, and wait to get reimbursed for covered services and medications. You may not get fully reimbursed, either. The insurance company will pay the amount they are contracted to with the vet. If you’re billed $100, the insurance company may be contracted to pay $75 for that particular service.
Some plans offer a lifetime of coverage and will include pet life insurance as a bonus or for a small extra fee. Pet life insurance will cover the expenses of burial, cremation, and other incidentals expenses related to the pet’s death. Some plans will also provide a fixed amount of money to pay for the cost of therapy for you and your family to deal with your pet’s death.
It does not, however, provide a payout to a beneficiary when the pet passes away. The animal insurance cost will vary depending on the pets breed, age, overall health at time of application, genetics, and life expectancy.
Your pet may already be covered, and you don’t know it. Some home and auto policies will cover specific pet injuries. If your pet gets injured in a car accident, your auto insurance may cover his medical expenses. If Fido falls down the stairs and chips a tooth, your home insurance may cover his dental bill.
Like any company, pet health care providers adhere to a standard operating procedure. They promote their services, but it’s the consumer’s responsibility to conduct their due diligence. That means before you purchase a product, know what you’re getting.
Policy Fine Print
Every policy has a terms of service section, a privacy section, and lots of hidden gems of information in the fine print. Read it! Make sure you know exactly what your money is paying for. If your puppy gets hit by a car and breaks his leg, you don’t want to find out at the last minute that your plan doesn’t cover broken bones.
Purebreed and pet cost variation
Purebred animals will always cost more to insure than a mixed mutt. If your pet has the tiniest drop of mixed blood, be sure to tell the insurance company and ask for a lower rate.
Dogs cost more to insure than cats because they are considered more expensive to treat. Pure breeds are more expensive to cover than a pet whose parentage is questionable. All these factors should be taken into consideration before you decide what type of pet you want to adopt.
All Creatures, Big and Small
Purebreds aren’t the only ones who need to be insured. Pet owners of strays, mutts, disabled, and abandoned pets need access to veterinarian care. Good news for pet owners is that insurance on dogs and cats is becoming more available and affordable.
But when you think about medical insurance for animals, do ducks, pigs, or birds come to mind? It may seem strange to some people, but all types of animals can become a family pet. Cows, geese, chickens, and rats can wiggle their way into our hearts. Once they do, it’s our responsibility to keep them happy and healthy.
Pets of every species deserve adequate health care. We, as pet owners, are obligated to ensure they receive it. Lizards, snakes, geckos, turtles, birds, and other species need health care. Medical insurance for animals of a variety of species is available if you do a little research.
Insurance on dogs, cats, and other family pets is necessary, but what about horse insurance?
Horses can develop ailments that are specific to their species. This will require specific types of services and medications that can range in the thousands. What if the horse passes away? It’s not likely you can just grab a shovel and bury him in the backyard. Proper burial or cremation expenses can be astronomical for such a large animal.
Horse Insurance often Coupled with Mortality Coverage
Many companies will offer medical coverage to horses only if the plan is coupled with mortality coverage. Equine mortality plans are life insurance plans that cover the expenses of the horse’s death and make the owner the beneficiary. It also gives you a payout if the horse is stolen.
Most horse owners use their horses for competitions and shows. Horse farmers need insurance if they board, breed, or train horses. They’re usually more of an investment than a pet – a supporting factor of why they are covered under property insurance. There are horse insurance policies that offer coverage for major medical, surgical, loss of use, and theft. Transit fees can also be covered if your horse needs to travel internationally for specific reasons.
Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals
If you have a specific disability, your doctor may recommend that you have a service dog or an emotional support animal. A service dog receives extensive training in order to help their owners overcome physical or mental limitations. An emotional support animal can be any species of animal as long as it provides the necessary emotional support its owner needs.
These types of pets usually stay with their human families for their entire lives. Once they’ve bonded, they stay until death do us part. Helping them live long and healthy lives is essential not only to us but to them as well. Health care for pets of all breeds can help them help us for as long as possible.
Pet Health Coverage
Not all animals are born perfect. Deformations, genetic conditions, and incurable diseases can require a lifetime of visits to the veterinarian. Genetic disorders like hip dysplasia require physical therapy treatments, possible hip replacements, and lots of medication. Predisposed to this condition are German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Saint Bernards, Great Danes, Mastiffs, and Golden Retrievers. If your dog is mixed with any of these breeds, they will also be susceptible to developing it.
The DNA of Dachshunds and Beagles indicates they carry the trait for developing epilepsy. Incurable, your pet will have seizures and need a lifetime of anticonvulsant medication. Boxers and bulldogs have an inherited risk of developing heart disease. Treatment for weak hearts consist of antiarrhythmic drugs that can cost a small fortune.
Corgis and Pugs inherit the gene for degenerative myelopathy which is a progressive neurological condition that causes weakened spinal cords and eventually leads to paralysis. Harnesses, physical therapy, and medication are treatments that can run thousands of dollars a month in pet health care bills.
Unforseen Pet Injuries
And what about unforeseen injuries or emergency room visits? Walk in the emergency room door and get ready to pay a couple hundred dollars just to sign in. A broken leg, a deep cut that needs stitches, or just falling down the stairs can cause an injury that requires a vet visit.
Insurance plans that cover a variety of conditions is a major factor to consider before you enroll in a plan.
Pet Insurance Companies
Pet health insurance companies should be committed to helping pets of all breeds and species. They provide financial security in return for a monthly payment from their customers. Easy peazy, right? If only it were so.
Some companies only want to insure a pet that requires little health maintenance. A pet with a pre-existing condition is not eligible for coverage. Ever. Here’s how to get around that: if your pet is enrolled before the condition presents itself, services relating to its treatment may be covered once it becomes present.
Healthy Paws Pet Insurance
Healthy Paws Pet Insurance offers a variety of medical plans for cats and dogs that can treat injuries, cancer, vaccinations, X-rays, and lots more as long as it doesn’t relate to any pre-existing conditions. Lifetime coverage is offered if you enroll before your pets 14th birthday. They offer paperless claims and have a fast reimbursement cycle.
PetPremium gives you the ability of choosing your own vet rather than sticking within their preferred doctor list. Accident coverage is available immediately, but illnesses aren’t covered for the first 30 days of the plan. If you file a claim, you should receive a reimbursement check within 30 days. On the downside, the company has payout limits and waiting periods for coverage to begin on genetic conditions.
Embrace Pet Insurance
Embrace Pet Insurance is another provider that earns some praise when it comes to pet health coverage. It offers routine medical and dental care with the optional wellness coverage. Hereditary and congenital conditions, rehab, alternative therapies, nursing care, and more are covered in plans that can be customized. No medications are covered, but they offer a flexible spending account option to cover meds, flea treatments, neutering, and other items not covered by the plans.
Nationwide specializes in birds and exotic species that other pet insurance companies don’t. Plans are available for chinchillas, rats, iguanas, cockatoos, rabbits, snakes, sugar gliders, hedgehogs, and more. Policies cover illness, injury, X-rays, lab fees, and prescriptions, and more.
Pet Assure is a veterinarian discount plan. It’s accredited by the Better Business Bureau and covers medical services, dental, lab work, vaccines, cremation, neutering, ER visits, and more. It’s also a perfect alternative to expensive horse insurance and covers almost any type of pet.
Pet Health Plans and Discounts
The most important things to know about pet insurance companies are:
- They do not pay your vet bill. You must file a claim, and they reimburse you.
- Pre-existing conditions are not covered
- Only claims from licensed veterinarians will be covered. If your neighbor works at a vet’s office and gives your pet physical therapy treatments on the weekends, it doesn’t count as an official vet service.
- All insurers vary and so do their plans.
Everyone loves discounts, right? Insurance companies know that. To make their plans more attractive, pet insurance companies offer discounts to their customers.
Healthy Paws offers a 10% discount to AAA members. PetPlan caters to military (active and retired) and AARP members by giving a 10% discount if they sign up online (5% if they sign up by phone).
Other discounts are available if you purchase plans for more than one pet. Some companies, like Nationwide, offer multiple plan discounts. If you’ve already purchased auto insurance, ask for a discount on their pet plans.
Employer Veterinary Discount
If pet insurance isn’t something you can afford, ask your employer if they offer a veterinarian discount. It’s not insurance, but it could save you quite a bit off of each vet visit. If you have an otherwise healthy pet, discounted services may be the solution for your pet and your budget.
Factors that affect animal insurance costs
The rule of thumb is that the lower the cost of the insurance plan, the less coverage it offers. Like our human medical insurance, pet insurance has a monthly payment, copayment, and deductible.
Plans that cost more per month typically have a lower deductible and offer more coverage. Some plans will cover hereditary conditions as long as they haven’t developed yet. Prescription medications, boarding fees, and flea treatments are sometimes included if you choose to pay for the higher priced plans that cover those items.
When shopping for animal insurance, cost is the first thing people look at. But don’t forget to consider other important factors that could exclude your pet from being eligible for coverage.
Breed Specific Legislation
Thanks to breed specific legislation, Pit Bulls are banned in some states. If you live in one of those areas, your Pittie doesn’t qualify for pet health insurance.
If you own chickens or ducks and live within city limits, insurance companies aren’t allowed to sell insurance to you since they are considered barnyard animals.
All pet health insurance companies will require that you provide the following information before they even consider selling a plan to you:
- Age of your pet (senior animals will require more coverage than a younger pet)
- Gender (females are more expensive than males because they require prenatal care)
- Breed (aggressive animals, farm animals, and exotic animals differ greatly in medical needs)
- Pet residence (state and county)
Give your pet health coverage they deserve
What happens when your loving family pet gets hurt and needs surgery? Stitches? Medication? Or burial services? We don’t like to think about these unpleasant things. But we should.
You wouldn’t let your children go without seeing a doctor or a dentist. Don’t let your pets go without either. Medical insurance for animals is more affordable than ever. Insurance companies offer health care for pets because they know responsible pet owners like to be prepared for the unexpected.
Whether your puppy needs a checkup or your senior dog needs life-saving medication, don’t let them suffer without the proper vet care they need. Check if your employer offers pet insurance as an employee benefit.
Does your Existing Home and Auto Insurance Extend to Pets?
Ask if your home or auto insurance extends to your pets injuries. Gather as much data as possible so you can make an informed decision on what type of pet health care you need. Insurance on dogs, cats, birds, lizards, rabbits, hedgehogs, and many other species is available by just filling out an application.
If you’re an equestrian lover, get horse insurance to keep your horse and property protected. The purpose of pet insurance is to enable you to keep your family pet healthy and happy.
Once you get the right plan, you’ll get peace of mind knowing you love your pet as much as he loves you.
What is a Ragdoll Cat and why is it one of the most perfect breeds you could have? See this article on the Ragdoll Cat – a house cat that originates from America barely 100 years ago