365 Pet Insurance – All Things Pet Insurance by Industry Experts
We break down the difference between Accident Only, Illness, Comprehensive and Wellness Plans and help you decide which is best.
Pet Insurance Doesn’t Have to Be Complex
Pets are becoming more and more a part of our daily lives, and as they are members of our families, we want them to have the same attention and care that anyone would get who is a part of our family.
Unfortunately, all too often, decisions have to be made about care for our beloved animals that are not due to what we want to do, but more about what we can afford.
Pet insurance is a way to alleviate those hard decisions and make it so that anything is possible when it comes to caring for your pet’s health – from normal veterinary care to things like prosthetics and chemotherapy.
The decision to insure your pet is a personal one, and there are many schools of thought out there. Some will advise you to simply keep a savings account for your pet. This may be a fantastic solution for situations that only cost $100-$1500, but for catastrophic events such as cancer or other long-term illnesses, or even illness or injury that happens early in your pet’s life, a savings account won’t even come close to the funds you need to properly care for your pet. Then, you will have to make horrifying end-of-life decisions when you could afford the care easily with a small monthly payment to a pet insurer.
For us, the question of if you should get pet insurance as a pet owner is a no brainer. The bigger questions are: what kind of insurance you should get, what should your plan look like, and what are the basics you need? Our site hopes to answer all of these.
There are many factors you will want to look at when you are looking for an affordable pet insurance plan. Of course, cost is a prime component of any plan, but you should always look at cost vs. value. Just because a plan is less money per money, does not mean it is a better plan – in fact, you could end up paying far more for your pet’s health down the line. Conversely, a plan with a high premium may be more than you need.
Type of Plan
Some companies offer accident-only and accident and illness coverage, or pet wellness plans. Be sure to know what plan you are signing up for because it will greatly impact what is covered. You will typically want to find the best pet insurance plan that has comprehensive coverage in the basic plan, or else you will either pay for additional riders or you will find basic needs are not met.
Pet insurance is different than human insurance in that you will typically pay your vet up front and then submit a claim to get reimbursed. Some companies are moving away from this model because it does still put a burden on most pet owners to have to outlay money, and others boast really quick claim processing times. For now, this is the way the majority of the pet insurance industry works, and reimbursements work in the form of percentages. Usually, you will see reimbursement levels like 70%, 80% and 90%. The more you choose to get reimbursed, the higher your monthly premium will be, but you will pay less of your actual vet costs. Pay attention to claim processing times and also how easy the reimbursement process is when you are choosing a pet insurance company. You should also verify if you can use your own vet, or if you need to choose a different vet based on what your insurance will cover.
In this digital day and age, pet insurance companies are catching up, but are still processing a lot of claims through mail and fax. There are companies who have a digital process, some who have apps, and even some who do direct deposit. While it would be great for everyone to have a seamless claim submission process that was ‘green’ and saved the planet while saving you money, the most important things are still claim turnaround time and overall claim coverage, so make sure you ask about their stats when you are making your inquiries.
There are all kinds of limits when it comes to insurance, and pet insurance is no different. There are age limits, waiting periods, annual limits on care and other exclusions that you will need to pay attention to. When we say read the fine print, we mean it! All companies operate slightly differently. For instance, some work off an annual limit, where you can spend a certain amount per year on your animal. Others work off a lifetime limit, or a condition-based limit, where the insurance company limits how much money they will allot to a certain condition, such as hip dysplasia. Other companies boast no annual limits and no lifetime limits, so these are usually the best options for people who have animals predisposed to a lot of genetic conditions that may get capped under other plans.
There is nothing worse than having questions about your plan, your reimbursements, or worse yet, being at the vet having to make terribly hard decisions and not being able to reach your pet insurance company. After you submit your inquiries to a few companies, they should contact you to discuss your options in greater detail. Use this opportunity to find out how good their customer service is. Ask questions, look for detail and patience, and this will help you make your decision.Now that you have attended Pet Insurance 101, you are ready to shop for the best plan. Remember that this is a personal choice, and it is best to get quotes from a few providers so you can do your research and get the best option for you and your furry friend.
You’ll need to look at coverage – what does your plan cover? This is where pet insurance is pretty similar to health insurance for humans. Pet insurance for pre-existing conditions are not covered, and there are several exclusions that you will need to pay attention to. To avoid any pre-existing condition issues, you should enroll your animals as soon as you can. We have heard of stories of normal care not covered due to some sort of pre-existing condition being in place, and other stories of humongous bills to the tens of thousands of dollars being covered because the owner enrolled their animal when they were born. Make sure you look at what is covered under the plan carefully, and see if you will need to purchase additional add-ons, called riders, to make the plan more robust.
Deductibles work the same way for pet insurance that they do for human insurance. You can usually choose the deductible you want, which will impact your monthly rate. Typically, these are annual deductibles and will reset every calendar year, much like human health insurance. The deductible is the out-of-pocket amount you are responsible to pay before insurance starts footing the bill. Once you meet your deductible, the insurance company will pay the bill based on your reimbursement amount. So, if you have a $500 deductible, you will need to put in at least $500 of your own money that year before insurance will pay anything. In some cases, some types of care, such as wellness, do not apply to the deductible, meaning that insurance can pay for these even if you have not met your deductible. Remember that the lower the deductible, the less the out-of-pocket you will have, but your monthly premium will be higher. For most folks, this is a balancing act to figure out which deductible and premium amount makes the most sense for your family.
The monthly premium is what you will pay every month to the pet insurance company so your pet(s) can be insured. This number can be adjusted based on the aforementioned items: your deductible, reimbursement and also where you live and how many pets you are insuring. The age of your pets also makes a difference, so check your plan accordingly and pay attention to this when you are shopping around.
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