Maybe you want some financial protection in case your active pet gets injured. Or maybe you’ve decided insurance can help with the increasingly expensive routine treatments dogs and cats need. Or maybe you know you want to do whatever you can to keep your pet with you and don’t want to worry about not being able to afford life-saving care. Whatever your reasons for wanting to have pet insurance, before you purchase a policy, you should take the following steps to ensure you find the right coverage for your dog or cat.
Research What Coverage You Want
Talking to other pet owners is one place to start. It can be especially helpful to talk with pet parents who have a dog or cat of the same breed so you can be aware of costs associated with hereditary medical problems.
Next, Douglas G. Aspros, DVM, a veterinarian at the Bond Animal Hospital in White Plains, New York, and president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), recommends talking to your veterinarian about your pet’s medical needs and routine care. “I think your veterinarian can help you develop an idea of what risks you need to cover,” says Dr. Aspros.
Dr. Aspros also recommends talking to your veterinarian about which insurance companies offer good service. “There are companies that are easy to deal with and ones that give better service,” says Dr. Aspros. “Talk to your veterinarian about their experience, how much data you need to provide, how quick the insurance company is about paying off what your veterinarian thinks are reasonable claims.”
You can check each insurance company’s web site and online reviews of insurers to find out about different plans, deductibles, and wellness care. For instance, PetInsuranceReview.com offers a profile of the following insurers:
- Petfirst Healthcare
- Petplan USA
- Pets Best
- Healthy Paws
- Protect Your Bubble
Chris Ashton, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Petplan Pet Insurance, encourages owners to contact insurers directly and ask straightforward questions. “Call the companies,” says Ashton, “and ask about the coverage, ask about hereditary conditions, ask are conditions covered next year that happened this year.”
Ashton also recommends asking the insurers about their rating. Every company has a rating such as the ones provided by A.M. Best, which validates the financial stability of a company. You can find more information from your state since all pet insurance companies should be registered with state regulators.
Once you decide on a company and have a policy to review, be sure to read the fine print. Among other things, check on those exclusions related to your breed of dog or cat since, says Ashton, some insurers have historically excluded conditions that are common among specific breeds. “For instance,” he says, “if you’re buying a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, you’re hoping that one day the heart condition [that is common in the breed] is going to get covered.” If you haven’t checked on all the fine print, it’s possible that you could pay premiums for years and then, when you put a claim in for treatment of the heart condition your insurer might deny it, saying the problem was a pre-existing condition because it must have been present at birth and your policy doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions.
Joel Ohman, a Certified Financial Planner who founded the web site InsuranceProviders.com, also cautions pet owners to read policies carefully. “Make sure that it is a true insurance policy and not just a glorified discount plan or discount card," says Ohman. He also points out, “There can be a very wide range of coverage options and differences from one pet insurance policy to another, so consumers will do well to carefully compare plan options and do their homework before purchasing a policy.”
More on Making Pet Health Choices:
The Benefits of an Active Dog
Top 5 Winter Nutrition Tips for Dogs
Pet Care on a Budget
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard or delay seeking professional advice due to what you may have read on our website.