The pet insurance market can be confusing to navigate. There are many different plan and options you can choose from. This article can help you understand different plans and how to select the right company and coverage for your pet.
What kind of coverage choices are offered?
Accident/Injury– This kind of coverage covers just that. Things that would fall under this category include hit by car, lacerations, broken bones, etc. It does not cover illness.
Illness– This type of coverage includes sickness. This includes conditions like diabetes, infections, liver disease, and other health issues.
Complete– This combines accidental and illness coverages.
Preventative/Wellness– This provides benefits for exams, vaccinations, dental cleanings, and other things that are needed to insure a healthy pet over the years. Many preventative plans must be purchased in conjunction with injury or illness plans.
Some companies differ in what they may cover such as heritable or congenital conditions. Others may provide coverage in alternative therapies such as acupuncture, chiropractic work, stem cells, and aqua therapy. You will need to read coverage details to find what all is available under your plan.
An insurance company may limit payout on certain conditions regardless of the final veterinary bill. Read your plan carefully before selecting. Example: Company A will only cover $1000 for a repair on a broken leg. The surgeon’s bill may be $3000. You would be responsible for the other $2000.
This can be variable between companies. A company may have specific plans you can choose from or may allow you to set your own deductible.
There is also variation in how the deductible works. Some companies have an annual deductible regardless of the number of visits and reasons while other companies may have a deductible to meet for each new condition. If the company offers a deductible per condition, this is typically for the life of the pet but is dependent on the insurance company’s policy. Be sure to read the fine print carefully and ask questions.
Coverage Percentage and Limit
Many companies offer different levels of coverage and limits. A company may allow you to select your set amount of coverage for the year or you may have the option to select unlimited coverage. Also, companies typically only pay a certain percentage of your bills. Some companies will allow you to select the amount covered on a percentage basis but others may not (example: 80% bill pay vs 90%).
Sign up for coverage may only be allowed for pets in a certain age group. Many do not allow you to sign up a puppy or kitten less than 8 weeks of age while other companies will not allow pets older than 13 or 14 years old. There are some companies that do not have age restrictions.
You will need to determine what works for your monthly budget. Many of the things above will influence your plan premiums. A high deductible with a lower percentage covered will result in a lower monthly premium than a low deductible unlimited coverage plan.
Premiums are also influence by geographical region, species, and age the pet is signed up for health insurance. A 5 year bulldog in New York will have a much higher premium than a 3 year old cat in Nebraska.
Most companies require you to submit your claim paperwork and veterinary hospital invoices and then will reimburse you in a specified amount of time. This means that you are still responsible for 100% of the veterinary bill up front when you checkout. You will be responsible for submitting the claim. The insurance company often contacts the veterinarian for copies of medical history regarding the claim.
Trupanion does offer Trupanion Express (some hospitals may not have). This allows for pre-approval of claims and coverage can be applied directly to your hospital bill.
NO insurance will cover pre-existing conditions. Some may cover a condition in the future if it is considered completely treatable and your pet goes a certain amount of time since the initial problem.
Waiting periods– With most companies, there is a waiting period after you sign up before you can actually use your pet’s insurance. This varies between companies and can range between 14-30 days. Some companies may break this down even further. Example 14 day wait for illness, 30 day wait for injury, and 6 month wait period for orthopedic issues. A few companies offer free 30 day trials with an exam and this allows for immediate coverage. You typically must sign up within 24-72 hours after the exam in order to be eligible.