What is pet insurance?

Affordable pet insurance has been a deep passion of mine since before Veterinary School.  I want to take this time to educate you on the importance of pet insurance for your dog or cat or dog health insurance.

Pet insurance policies tend to include deductibles, copayments, and premiums.  HOWEVER, unlike human medical insurance, it is a reimbursement model – meaning YOU pay out of pocket up front to your veterinarian, and then the insurance company pays YOU back.

The cost of pet insurance depends on several factors including pet’s breed, age, cost of veterinary care in your area, as well as what YOU choose as the plan.

Is pet insurance the same as a medical plan?

Pet insurance is NOT the same as a medical or health plan for your pet, such as the Banfield Wellness plan or another plan.

They differ by ONE MAIN FEATURE – you can take pet insurance ANYWHERE YOU GO – TO ANY HOSPITAL AND TO ANY STATE.    

The same tends not to be true with a medical or health plan.

For example, if it is 2 A.M., and you need to take your pet to the emergency room (as your veterinarian’s office is most likely closed) because your pet is sick or hurt, pet insurance can go WITH YOU!  The same tends not to be true with a medical or health plan.

Is it worth it to have pet insurance?  Is Pet Insurance Worth the Cost?

The answer is . . . it depends!  If you have set up a bank account for your pet already, or you have a significant amount of savings (keep in mind that average cost for a pet that has suffered a car accident ranges from $1200 to over $5000), then pet insurance may not be right for you.

Personally, as a holistic veterinarian, I will NOT own a pet without pet insurance.  I know too much – I know how much a CT scan or MRI scan could cost and when it could be useful.  I know that seeing a veterinary specialist is costly – and I know that cancer surgery is expensive.  I never want to have to say no to veterinary care for my furry kids due to cost.  Never.

What is the best pet insurance?

The answer is . . . it depends!  I encourage you to CALL every pet insurance company you are considering.

Here are my top factors when evaluating a pet insurance company:

  1. NO limits per year / No caps on Claim Payouts – some pet insurance companies have an “annual ceiling.” This means they will pay for ‘x’ amount per year, and no more.
    • My first dog, Duke, cost us over $10,000 one year in surgeries. I was happy that I only paid about $1,000 because we chose a company that did not have an annual ceiling.
  2. NO exclusion of breed-specific conditions – your pet shouldn’t suffer lack of coverage because they were born with a certain genetic condition no one knew about.
  3. Coverage for holistic, alternative, rehabilitative, and complementary care – this is important! As a holistic veterinarian, I prefer to reach for herbal therapies or other non-drug options before a drug.
  4. Fast Claim Payout process
    • Reimbursement model means you will pay your veterinarian for the full amount, and then wait for the pet insurance company to pay YOU back.

I prefer to select a plan that covers accidents and illnesses to the maximum possibility.  I accept paying the basics including flea/tick/heartworm treatments or vaccinations, as long as the accidents and illnesses are covered.

Just as a side-note YOU should recognize that almost all pet insurance companies exclude pre-existing conditions.

What is super awesome for pet insurance plan to have?

One feature I discovered during my research that I fell in love with is the “Pre-approval Service.”  At this point in time, I have only found this with Trupanion Pet Insurance.

This means that I can get the estimate for the procedure from my veterinarian, submit it, and know how much will be reimbursed in several hours.  This is a stark contrast to waiting for several weeks for a check to come in the mail (don’t forget – you have to wait for the pet insurance’s evaluation of what will be covered!  It is a reimbursement model.).

How do I get affordable pet insurance?

I recommend reviewing www.petinsurancereview.com and CALLING the companies with set questions.

Ask for their written policies and review them – look at the limitations and exceptions.  You are the best advocate for your pet.

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