Pet Insurance 101: Basics to Know
Thinking about taking out pet insurance? Doing so is a great idea, but it’s vital to understand your options - as well as that pesky small print. From the waiting periods applicable before you can make a claim to the deductibles you could be subject to, being really clear on each policy will help you get the cover that’s perfect for you and your pet.
There are Different Plans Available
Firstly, different pet insurance plans are available, so you can choose the type of cover that fits your pet’s needs and your budget. The key thing to remember, however, is that existing conditions are almost never covered.
In general, there are three types of pet insurance plans: accident-only, comprehensive, and routine care. The first, an accident-only plan, will cover veterinary costs that occur as a result of your pet having an accident, such as breaking a bone, suffering a laceration, getting bitten by another animal, or swallowing objects.
A comprehensive pet insurance plan typically covers illnesses and accidents, potentially including cancer, allergies, hereditary conditions, hospitalization, surgery, arthritis, and breed-specific conditions. Finally, a routine care pet insurance plan will usually cover preventative costs, like vaccines, dental cleaning, annual check-up examination fees, bloodwork, and spaying or neutering. This type of cover is often also referred to as a pet wellness plan.
Pet Insurance Waiting Times
Another crucial element of getting pet insurance you need to know about is the waiting periods applicable. Most policies incorporate waiting periods - the length of time that an insurer requires you to wait until your pet becomes eligible for reimbursement as part of the insurance coverage.
The waiting period for pet insurance begins on the policy’s start date and is a key reason that you should get it in place well before you may need it. An example of a waiting period could be two days for accidents, fourteen days for illnesses, and six months for cruciate ligament events (a common injury suffered by dogs).
What Pet Insurance Doesn’t Cover
As well as pre-existing conditions, most policies won’t cover non-vet-related costs or those associated with standard routine care unless a wellness pet plan has been purchased. Breeding, pregnancy, DNA testing, elective procedures, and experimental treatments are also typically not covered.
Pet insurance plans won’t cover so-called “cosmetic” treatments such as removing dew claws, ear cropping, and tail docking, or accidents and injuries caused by racing, fighting, cruelty, and neglect.
Be Aware of Pet Insurance Deductibles
Most insurance plans incorporate a deductible, and pet insurance is no different. Generally, a higher premium is likely to mean a lower deductible, while lower premiums are linked to a higher deductible. A deductible is the amount that you’ll have to pay out of your own pocket for costs in the event that you need to make a claim on your pet insurance policy.
Before taking out a policy, it’s important to find out how deductibles will be applied. Some insurers, for example, will apply a deductible each time your pet visits a vet for a new condition, while others may simply apply a single annual deductible. Once this deductible has been met, you won’t have to pay any further deductible on future claims during the term of the policy.
Is Pet Insurance Compulsory?
Pet insurance is not compulsory, but many owners choose to take it out. As well as ensuring that your pet’s treatment will be covered should they suffer an injury or develop a medical condition, a pet insurance policy will give you peace of mind.
However, if you are considering not taking out a policy, it may be worth speaking to your vet about potential or likely future costs in terms of care. This will help you work out a budget and figure out whether you would be able to afford this care or treatment without an insurance policy in place.
Can All Pets Be Covered by Pet Insurance?
There is a chance that your pet may be denied coverage. While some insurers don’t apply an age limit, others do, meaning that if your dog is elderly, you may find it more difficult to get coverage. Further, some insurers won’t cover every type of pet or type of breed or may limit the number of pets that they’ll insure per household.
Will Insurance Pay for a Service Dog?
No, insurance companies don't pay for service dogs, but there are other ways to pay for your service dog. For more information, read out in-depth article on insurance & payment options for service dogs.
Can My Dog Get Life Insurance?
The short answer is yes, but it only works in certain circumstances and the cost of it can be worth more than the benefit. So it's generally not an option that people pursue. To learn more, here's our detailed guide on whether you can get life insurance for your dog.
Pet Insurance 101: Finding the Right Policy for You and Your Pet
No matter if you’re about to bring home a brand new kitten, adopt a pooch from a shelter, or even add a parakeet to your menagerie, taking out pet insurance is highly recommended. It’s vital to fully understand a policy before signing on the dotted line; use the guide above to make sure you’re completely up to speed on your cover so you can enjoy maximum peace of mind.
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