Should a pet owner purchase pet health insurance? This is a question that should be considered carefully. Vets are now able to treat many more conditions in companion animals successfully, including feline cancer, and canine diabetes. However, these treatments come with a high price tag.
Statistics show that one out of every three pets will need some type of emergency pet care every year. Two out of every three companion animals will face a serious health problem sometime in their lives. Many pet owners believe that purchasing a pet health insurance policy is the best way to be prepared for unexpected veterinary emergencies. But is this really true?
Here are questions that should be answered before buying any kind of health insurance for pets.
Is Lifelong Pet Insurance a Good Idea?
Many people wonder if they should get pet insurance for a new puppy or kitten or wait until the animal is older. This is a good question.
Just like people, pets face many more health issues as they get older. This can make it very difficult to find pet health insurance for an older animal. Most companies won’t cover a companion animal who is older than nine years. If they do, the premiums will be very high.
Is the answer to buy pet insurance when the companion animal is younger? Maybe not. That $10-a-month premium for a kitten may increase as she gets older. How much will premiums increase? Can a certain premium be locked in until the pet is ten or twelve years old?
If she is treated for a certain condition, like feline diabetes, will this condition be considered a “pre-existing condition” when it comes time to renew the policy? If so, the company may refuse to insure her any longer, or may increase the premium substantially.
Also consider the cost of premiums over the pet’s lifetime. $15 a month comes to $180 a year. If the premium remains the same for ten years, the cost would be $1800, just for premiums. The premiums will probably increase if any claims are filed. Don’t forget about the co-pays and deductibles, too.
How Much is the Deductible? How Much Co-Pay is Required?
Every pet insurance plan has a deductible, which is the amount that the owner has to pay himself. Depending on the pet’s age, the deductible may be $50 or more for each procedure (not each visit). This can add up quickly if the animal requires several procedures.
The insurance company may also require that the pet owner co-pays ten to twenty percent of the vet bill.
Ask About Caps
The maximum amount an insurance company will pay per animal per year is called a cap. There may be a cap for each covered condition, plus an annual cap and a lifetime cap for each animal. Avoid nasty surprises by learning which caps apply to the pet, or its condition.
How Long Does It Take to be Reimbursed?
Be aware that the pet owner is expected to pay the vet at the time service is rendered. The pet owner fills out the insurance form and mails it in. It can take two to four weeks, or longer, to receive reimbursement.
Before buying a policy, ask how the reimbursement is calculated. The owner may be reimbursed for a certain percentage of the vet’s bill. Or the company may have a benefit schedule that lists what it will pay for each procedure. The company may only pay a certain percentage of this amount, not a percentage of what the bill actually was.
Always Read the Fine Print
Know ahead of time which conditions are covered, and which are excluded. Is there a waiting period before the insurance goes into effect? Does the owner get to choose which vet to use? Are prescriptions covered? What about emergency care?
Every insurance company is different, and each company offers many different plans. If a pet owner decides to invest in pet health insurance, it’s important to compare plans carefully, and to read the find print to find the best value for pet insurance.