Ins and Outs of Pet Insurance

If you’ve ever sought health care for a pet, you know that some tough decisions need to be made in the exam room. Will you buy all of the preventive medicine at once, or purchase it month by month? Will you spring for the more expensive once-daily pill, or ask for the cheaper one that requires your attention every eight hours? Were you prepared for the unexpected car accident or surprise pregnancy? Sometimes it just takes one of those to really knock your budget off its feet.

Wouldn’t it be great if the cost of these things never entered into the decision? Obtaining a health insurance policy for your pet might bring that dream a little closer to reality. There are many pet insurance companies doing business nowadays, and they generally offer three different types of coverage. The first, most expensive type covers all wellness visits along withany illness or accident that may befall your pet. A less expensive plan would leave all preventive care costs to you while it pays the bills for illness and injury. The least expensive plan typically offers coverage for accidents only.

In some ways, pet health insurance is like human health insurance. If the patient has a pre-existing condition, that condition will generally not fall under the umbrella of coverage. Don’t even think of trying to buy it when you’ve realized something is “off” aboutyour pet; there will be at least a 2-week waiting period before any coverage kicks inPet insurance isn’t a substitute for cash, either. Most plans will require you to pay the bill in full when you leave the vet’s office. You’ll then need to wait 2-4 weeks for areimbursement check from the company. That’s because veterinary hospitals can’t provide an entire department devoted to interacting with insurance providers; it’s a deal that strictly exists between you and your insurer. Because the health care team exists outside of this relationship, you may choose whatever providerworks best for youThis also means there is no question of whether your favorite vet office accepts your chosen insurance.

All of that autonomy costs money, though. Premiums for veterinary coverage will change over time, typically increasing as the pet gets older since age brings more vulnerability to disease. Premiums will differ from breed to breed, since successful insurance companies have rafts of statistical information forecasting which breed is prone to develop what illness and when.

Ithis sounds like something that would help you plan for a rainy day, it’s time to start comparing companies. There are several websites that can simplifythis task (somewhat) by laying out the relevant information side by side, but none of these sites will include all of the available providers. You’re probably better off soliciting recommendations from friends, or else identifying company names that seem to have a good reputation. Once you’ve compiled a short list of insurance providersthe online comparison tools will be a lot more helpful.

Dr. M.S. Regan