While pet insurance has been around for decades, it has only recently become popular. Even today, it still has not achieved the expected success. This could be because there remains a mystery surrounding pet insurance. With the unfamiliar terms and companies selling it, it can be challenging to decide whether to purchase a pet policy. This article aims to answer some of your questions and give you the information needed to make the right choice.
Wondering if pet insurance is right for you? Check out our pros and cons
Not sure what to ask? Here are questions you should ask potential insurers
Be proactive: Get tips on preventative measures from your vet
What is pet insurance?
One common area of confusion about pet insurance is the difference between wellness plans and pet insurance. While the two may seem the same, there are stark differences.
Many veterinary hospitals offer a wellness plan to cover preventative care such as vaccines and exams. It may also cover annual blood work and, depending on your chosen options, may cover one set of X-rays. There are also dental add-ons for an extra charge. You can only use the wellness plan at your hospital, or if it’s a corporation with many hospitals across the country, you can use it at any of them.
On the other hand, pet Insurance can be used anywhere and cover many illnesses and emergencies. It can have a wellness option if you choose. It can also have options like accident and illness coverage.
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How do I find the cheapest pet insurance?
To find the least expensive policy, you should start with your veterinarian for suggestions as to what coverage your pet needs. Your pet's veterinarian knows your pet's medical history and any breed issues. Some veterinarians will recommend specific insurance companies that offer the best coverage at the lowest price.
Your veterinarian will want to discuss your pet's needs, so don't hesitate to ask about pet insurance.
How does pet insurance work?
There are three primary pet insurance categories. Each company offers policies with different coverage, premiums, and exclusions.
- Wellness coverage includes routine visits, vaccines, and sometimes medication such as heartworm preventatives.
- Accident and illness coverage for policy-specified illnesses and accidents.
- Accident-only coverage covers injuries or trauma.
Many companies will also have a comprehensive option that covers all of the above.
How payment is made
With most insurance policies, you pay for the services received, then file a claim with the company, and they reimburse you. Some companies want a receipt and the claim form; others may also want a copy of the medical report. Pet insurance typically doesn't have a copay, so you can expect full payment if you purchased a full coverage policy.
Before your veterinarian performs non-emergency procedures, you may be asked if you carry pet insurance and coverage limits. Unlike human health insurance, pet insurance doesn't have networks you must use to qualify for reimbursement.
What are the pros and cons of pet insurance?
Pet insurance may not be for everyone. Below are some of the pros and cons of purchasing a pet policy.
When should I get pet insurance?
Purchasing pet insurance is a decision that only you can make. You'll want to seek the advice of your veterinarian for older pets, although keep in mind that the older the pet, the higher the premium.
The best time to insure your pet is when they are about seven weeks old. This is the age when they are most at risk. Puppies and kittens are much more active in the first year or two, exacerbating the potential for injury or ingestion of a foreign body.
A 15-year-old dog in relatively good health may not need insurance. The decision should be made with your veterinarian. Your pet's healthcare professional can offer the best advice based on medical records and familiarity with your pet.
A vet’s advice on pet insurance
Discussing with your veterinarian about pet insurance will aid you in your decision-making. It's not always feasible to insure a pet. Your vet can guide you on your pet's needs, fee schedule, and a list of the specialists they refer patients to. Should your pet be diagnosed with a disease that needs special treatments, such as cancer, your veterinarian will refer you to a specialist.
What to ask potential insurers
When you decide to shop for pet insurance, you'll want to ask some or all of the following questions:
- What type of coverage do you offer?
- Are pre-existing conditions covered? If so, are there exclusions?
- Are there breed restrictions?
- Is there a yearly or lifetime benefit cap?
- How much will my monthly payment be?
- How much will my deductible be?
- Do you cover congenital conditions?
- Do you have a multi-pet discount?
- Do you have dental coverage?
- Is there a waiting period?
- Will the renewal price be increased if a claim is made?
- Do I pay the bills, or does the insurance pay directly?
- Do you have add-ons? What do they cover?
Vet's tips on preventative measures
Part of following a healthy lifestyle includes a well-balanced diet for your pet. Avoid processed foods and emphasize high-quality, natural food with lean proteins, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables. A veterinarian or pet nutritionist can suggest what to feed your pet.
Incorporate natural supplements
Supplementing your pet's diet with natural ingredients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants can support their overall health. Common supplements include:
- Omega-3 fatty acids work really well for skin and coat health.
- For joint supplements, try glucosamine and chondroitin.
- Probiotics are generally excellent for digestive health.
- Antioxidants can be used for immune function and inflammation.
Before adding any supplements, consult your veterinarian for guidance on appropriate dosages and product recommendations.
Exercise and mental stimulation
This is an important factor in pet care. Daily exercise can help reduce stress in your pet, maintain a healthy weight, and even help with mental health.
Schedule regular exams with your vet
Regular visits to the vet include not only vaccinations and dental cleanings but also a good, thorough exam that can catch conditions in the early stages when they are most treatable.
Create a safe and stress-free environment
Your pet’s quality of life can be enhanced by providing a safe home, including clean sleeping and eating areas, quiet areas, especially at times like the Fourth of July, and daily consistent routines.
Pet insurance is not right for everyone, but if you're interested, your vet can tell you more about it and help you understand the questions to ask the companies. Your vet can tell you more about pet insurance and help you understand the questions to ask the companies. Having a plan to cover your pet's emergency expenses, whether pet insurance or a saving account, could help prevent the worst-case scenario.
Your veterinarian can help you decide if pet insurance is right for you. In some instances, your vet might advise against it.
Pet insurance policies offer varying benefits. Make certain you understand what's covered when purchasing a plan.
The most expensive policy is not necessarily the best. Ask questions so you have an understanding of what's covered.
The best care for your pet should always include regular exams, vaccines, exercise, and a balanced diet.