What is Pet Insurance?
Pet insurance is an insurance policy bought by a pet owner which helps to lessen the overall costs of expensive veterinary bills. This coverage is similar to health insurance policies for humans. Pet insurance will cover either entirely or in part, the often costly veterinary procedures.
Pets are essential family members and — like humans — deserve the best medical care. No matter what type of pet you have, it’s vital to be prepared to pay for medical costs such as wellness visits, immunizations, spaying/neutering, and emergency care. One way to offset the cost of regular vet visits is through a pet insurance policy.
Pet insurance policies offer varying degrees of coverage. Some of the most common options available include basic coverage for common illnesses, and accidental injury, wellness plans for routine immunizations and preventative care, veterinarian plans for regular check-ups and surgical discounts and additional liability plans should your pet bite or harm another person.
Categories of Pet Insurance
- Non-lifetime Category: This covers buyers for most conditions suffered by their pet during a policy year but, on renewal in the following year, a condition that has been claimed for will be excluded. If that condition needs further treatment, the pet owner will have to pay for that him/herself.
- Lifetime Category: This category covers a pet for ongoing circumstances throughout the pet’s lifetime so that, if a condition is claimed for in the first year, it will not be excluded in subsequent years.
However, lifetime policies also have limits: some have limited “per condition”, others have limited “per condition, per year”, and others have limited “per year”, all of which have different implications for a pet owner whose pet needs treatment year after year.
Hence, it is wise to be clear which type of life policy you are considering.
You love your pet like a member of the family, but the insurance industry sees Fido or Fluffy more as property. That’s why pet insurance functions more like property insurance than health insurance.
But before you remind someone that your pet isn’t a piece of property, this designation works in your favor. Reading and understanding the policy is a cakewalk compared to health insurance policies written for humans.
Consider these advantages:
1. You can choose your vet. As long as the vet is licensed, pet insurers won’t tell you whom you can and can’t see. There are no in- or out-of-network doctors like those your health insurance policy probably dictate.
2. Simple policies. Simple policies. Most companies have a small number of tiers to choose from. One may cover only accidents, another may cover accidents and illnesses, and a third provides more coverage for more conditions.
If your pet has pre-existing conditions, your policy probably won’t cover them. If your animal has abdominal pain, for example, some companies may try to limit coverage on any condition that lists abdominal pain as one of its symptoms.
Before saying yes to a pet insurance policy, talk to the insurance company and have it clarify how it decides what constitutes a pre-existing condition. Something in your pet’s medical records that is harmless may become a big deal if you later file a claim.
On a related note, you may have to get your pet checked out by a vet before getting coverage if it hasn’t seen a vet in more than a year.