These days, veterinary fees can add up to thousands of dollars. Thankfully, pet insurance means you won’t have to choose between your bank account and your animal companion in emergencies.
If you are new to insuring your pets or insurance in general, picking the best pet insurance might be a daunting task. But don’t fret because we’ve got you covered with 10 factors to help you decide on the perfect pet insurance for you and your furry friend.
Even before you can sign up for pet insurance, you have to tick off the most important thing: is your pet eligible?
Pet insurance providers have different specifications when it comes to who is qualified for their policies. To help you see if your pet is the right fit with a pet health insurance provider, here are a few things you should look at.
Does the pet insurance provider have coverage for your state and city? Some providers do not offer coverage for certain areas. Although their area of coverage may be a growing list, make sure to check their website to see if your state is included.
Some insurers cover more exotic pets such as rabbits and even horses; however, many only cover cats and dogs. Additionally, it is important to note that there can be some exclusions here too. More often than not, dog insurance providers do not offer coverage for working and commercial dogs. So, make sure to find out if there are breeds or animals that an insurance provider does not cover.
Unfortunately, if you have an older pet, your choices for the best pet policy provider become limited since a lot of pet policies have an upper age limit. Make sure to check age limits to see if your dog or cat is too old to be insured. You will find that the standard margin for the maximum age limit for older dogs is between 8 and 12 years old. Some policies also increase prices as your pet gets older, even if they aren’t excluded entirely.
Many policy providers do not cover a pet’s health conditions that were present before the start of the policy. Some insurers do allow pets with pre-existing conditions as long as they haven’t shown symptoms or haven’t received treatment for the condition within a set amount of time.
So, if you have an older pet who is nursing quite a few pre-existing conditions, it’s best to check out the limitations of each pet insurance and see if this will affect the eligibility of your pet.
When you’re shopping for the best pet insurance, the obvious type of coverage to look for is vet fees for injury or illness. But there are many other options as well.
Are you seeking coverage for a specific type of treatment or lab work? Check if insurers cover the kinds of treatments you might expect to give your pet, such as herbal medicine, medication for cancer, or medical supplies. Do they cover CT scans and MRIs?
If you often travel with your pet, will they be covered abroad, and for how long? Some providers offer reimbursement for boarding or sitting fees and even expenses incurred when your pet gets lost. With the best dog insurance, you’ll also be able to get third-party liability coverage for damages caused by your pet to others or their property.
Make sure to look at the limitations and what’s not covered as well. Dental treatments are often limited or excluded. Check out the limitations providers have for specific treatments as well.
Lastly, though it can be hard to think about, coverage for euthanasia, cremation, and burial costs should also definitely be a factor to consider.
Consider your budget and your pet’s likely medical needs when deciding on a plan. Insurers offer an extensive range of coverage levels for vet fees, from $2000-per-condition time-limited plans to lifetime plans that will pay up to $20,000. Some even offer unlimited coverage.
Monthly pet insurance costs also vary widely. Expect to see monthly prices around $20-$75 for dogs and $10-$45 for cats, though some premiums can range into the hundreds.
The cost of your pet insurance may differ depending on certain factors, including but not limited to your pet’s age, size, breed, and pre-existing health conditions on top of your coverage limit and deductible. Add-ons can make plans more expensive, but may be worth it for extra coverage.
Many pet insurance providers have quote tools on their websites. You can use these to get an idea of the costs and adjust benefits till you find the most affordable pet insurance for you.
The most common types of insurance policies for pets are lifetime policies, time-limited policies, accident-only policies, and maximum benefit policies.
This insurance provides coverage for your pet throughout its lifetime. This is commonly the most expensive choice, as it covers the most, from illnesses, wellness, and dental care to accidents. It doesn’t set a time limit for your insurance unless stated in the policy wording.
This insurance requires renewing your policy each term (often a year) to enjoy its lifetime benefits.
This type of policy provides coverage for your pet for a specific time only—usually up to 12 months. Generally, there’s also a limit on how much you can claim and how many times you can claim for a particular treatment type or condition.
This type of pet insurance plan provides coverage only for accidents, and illnesses caused by accidents, that occur during the policy period. This policy won’t provide coverage for hereditary illnesses or pre-existing conditions.
These policies give you unlimited claims for the same condition up to a financial limit. Generally, once you’ve exhausted this limit, you cannot claim anything else for that condition. However, there is no time limit as long as the policy is renewed.
Deductibles are a fixed fee you’ll have to pay before the insurance provider picks up the tab. This is often charged once per condition per policy period and could range from $50 to $500+.
Policies also provide different levels of reimbursement for your costs. Usually, you can pick a percentage tier—50%, 70%, or 90%, for example. However, a few pet insurance plans provide you the advantage of 100% reimbursement and a $0 deductible.
Make sure to check out these details for the pet insurance provider you are looking at. Generally, the less you pay in deductibles and the more you’re reimbursed when you make a claim, the more you’ll have to pay for your monthly premium.
Several pet insurance providers do not give you the liberty of picking just any vet. This usually happens for policies that pay the vets’ office directly for their fees. In this case, you’ll have to pick a vet that is registered under the pet insurance you choose.
If you prefer to stay with your vet who isn’t with a policy provider, look for pet insurance that offers reimbursement options.
Of course, the vet you already go to may be registered with pet insurance. You can always ask them if they have dog or cat insurance suggestions for you to consider.
Do you have more than one pet? If so, you might want to look for pet insurance that offers multi-pet bundles and/or discounts if you enroll more than one pet. Discounts vary, but generally, you’ll be looking at a 5-10% discount, which can make a big difference.
Some companies may offer other kinds of discounts, for bundling pet and auto insurance, for example. So make sure to check for anything you might be able to take advantage of.
There are various methods to make a claim with a pet insurance provider. Some ask you to send an email for reimbursement or have online claim portals. Others may ask you to fill out a form to leave with your vet or to call their office. Consider what is most convenient and comfortable for you when choosing a policy.
Waiting times for claims to process vary between providers.
To hasten your claims, you’ll have to make sure to provide all the necessary documents and information.
For insurance providers that offer very similar policies, customer service could make all the difference.
Some provide 24-hour chat support with a live person, while some will make you talk to a bot. A few policy providers do not have this feature at all, which could be frustrating.
Pet Insurance providers may also offer customer service through email or phone call only. Some may be contacted throughout the day, while others will have their lines open during office hours only.
Another perk that you may want your pet insurance to have is a 24/7 vet helpline to assist you in case you have questions for vets or emergency at-home treatments for your pets. Some insurers offer this convenient benefit at no extra charge.
Aside from visiting insurers’ websites and studying their policy wording documents, one of the best sources of information on the best pet insurance is, of course, other pet parents like yourself.
Compare pet insurance plans you are eyeing by reading reviews from existing policyholders and taking note of their complaints and good experiences.
To help you solidify your decision, take a look at our comparison of the top pet insurance companies with reviews from trusted sources to get a quick, comprehensive pet policy comparison.
Each year, costs for veterinary treatments are getting higher—hence the growing importance of pet insurance. The right match for you and your pets might not be something you can decide on overnight, but with our tips on how to find the best pet insurance, we hope your search will be easier.