We all want our pets to live long, healthy lives. Of course, this means routine wellness exams with a trusted veterinarian as well as monitoring our furry friends for any signs of illness. Living with an animal for any amount of time usually means getting to know their personality and habits. As pet parents know, it’s pretty easy to recognize when something is “off.”
Though we hope it never happens, many of our pets will probably get sick at least once in their lives, and some may develop medical issues as they get older. The vet bills that come with tests, treatments, procedures, and overnight stays can be eye-popping.
That’s where pet insurance comes in. Just like your own health insurance, coverage can help defray the cost of routine and unexpected medical expenses for your companion animal. But with so many options available, how does one even go about choosing pet insurance?
Do I Need Pet Insurance?
The first question to ask is whether you even need or want coverage for your pet. To do this, you can begin by looking at your finances.
Are you on a fixed budget where an emergency vet bill would be difficult to pay? Or do you already have a large amount saved for unexpected life or pet expenses?
Will you be able to pay your monthly or yearly pet insurance premiums? Or will this expense strain your finances?
How you answer these questions may help determine if pet insurance is right for you. As the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) points out, there’s no magic formula to this process. It has to be something that fits into your finances and that you feel will bring value to your pet’s overall health.
Another thing to consider is what kind of pet you’ll be insuring. Cats and dogs are generally covered, but other exotic pets may not be. Some providers may also decline to cover certain breeds that they consider “high risk.” If you’re shopping for plans, be sure to ask what kind of pets and breeds are covered and which are excluded when choosing pet insurance.
Finally, there’s the emotional component to pet insurance. There’s no way to know if or when your pet will have any medical issues. Pet insurance may allow you to get extensive medical treatment for your pet without having to worry about the final expense. For some pet parents, this comes down to making a decision between costly treatment and euthanasia. We should emphasize, though, that your pet’s quality of life should be the ultimate factor when faced with these difficult situations.
How it Works
At this point, it’s important to explain how pet insurance actually works. Many policies are reimbursement plans. What this means is that you’ll pay your vet bills up front, file a claim with your insurance provider, and then receive a payment for part or all of what you initially paid out of pocket.
When shopping for insurance, ask about how claims are handled. Do you need to file online? Are you able to file by mail? What is the turnaround time for reimbursement? At what percentage are certain procedures and treatments covered?
AVMA sums it up like this: A good pet insurance policy should always communicate clearly about the fee reimbursement process, such as how reimbursements are determined and how quickly payments are sent to policy holders.
Shopping for Coverage
If you’ve decided that pet insurance is right for you and your pet, and you’re clear on how these policies actually work, it’s time to get some quotes. There are many important things to consider when shopping for coverage.
These usually focus on your pet’s age, breed, and current health status. Some plans don’t cover preexisting conditions, while some may not allow enrollment until your pet has been spayed or neutered. Shopping for insurance when your pet is young and healthy is often best.
What are the monthly or yearly premiums? Are there discounts for paying in full or for insuring multiple pets? Is there a yearly deductible to meet? What are the reimbursement percentages? All of these questions and more make up the financial aspect of pet insurance.
Is the policy just for routine care and vaccinations or does it also cover accidents and emergencies? Are there any exclusions? Can you purchase add-ons like dental care? Any plan should clearly spell out what you’re getting for the coverage you’re buying.
It’s generally a good idea to compare quotes from multiple companies. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the amount of choices available to you, consider talking to your veterinarian when choosing pet insurance. They likely have a good idea of your pet’s current and future health status and can advise you on what coverage might be appropriate.
Choosing Pet Insurance is a Personal Decision
While pet insurance may not be right for everyone, it can provide peace of mind for some pet parents as we all look to spend many, many happy years together with our companion animals.
To learn how RCO Pet Care Care can help you with your dog walking and pet sitting needs, check out our services, contact us or call us at (203) 641-2428. If you’re outside of our service area we’re happy to help you find a reputable, professional pet care provider. We’ve got your tail!