You love your pet and do not even want to think about him becoming ill or having an accident. Pet health insurance can provide you with peace of mind if he does need extensive or emergency medical care. The peace of mind comes from knowing that you will not have to make a decision on your pet's life based on how much the surgery or treatment costs.
When you are looking for an affordable insurance plan, there are several good questions to ask:
- Is there a waiting period from the time you sign up until the plan goes into effect? Most plans have a waiting period of one to 14 days from the time you fill out the application until the time the plan goes into effect. Some also require you to take your pet to the veterinarian for a checkup and submit the results before the plan is active.
- How is a claim processed or paid? In most cases, you pay your veterinarian, then the insurance company reimburses you. Please note that this is different from the way most health insurance plans work for people.
- Most companies reimburse you a reasonable vet charge based on the national average. This may be another good area to research further. For example, what does the company you are looking at consider the national average for an office visit?
- What is the deductible? Some companies have per incident deductibles, others have a per year deductible. Check with the individual company's information to see what its policy is.
- What are the exclusions? Some plans exclude certain breeds or illnesses. Most exclude pre-existing conditions. If you have an older pet, you may also want to ask if there are age exclusions.
- Can you use any veterinarian or does your insurance company have a network? Most companies will allow you to use any veterinarian, but a few require you to choose one listed in its preferred network.
- What does the plan cover? Most companies offer several different plans, and price points. Some are all-inclusive, and even cover routine care such as shots, and spaying or neutering. Others have a higher deductible and cover only emergency procedures. You can decide which plan meets your needs and your pocketbook. All-inclusive versions usually have a higher price point than emergency coverage.
- Is there a maximum coverage? Some plans have a maximum coverage, and others have a maximum per incident or per year pay out.
- What are the payment options? Usually, it's a monthly or yearly payment plan. Many accept credit card payments or checks.
- How much does the plan cost? This will vary. Most plans offer a multipet discount. You may want to compare pet insurance and get quotes from a couple of companies before making a final decision. There are several websites that offer quotes from different companies. You can also plug "pet insurance" in as a query in your favorite search engine and compare the offerings of insurance companies like Veterinary Pet Insurance and PetCare Pet Insurance. You should do this even if you already have a particular company in mind.
Asking the above questions will help you select the pet insurance company that works best for you and your dog. Check with your state's insurance commissioner, to be sure the company you are considering has a good track record. Once you have made a selection, fill out the application and have any required checkups completed.
Make sure you understand how to use your plan before there is an accident or illness.