Having a pet isn’t cheap. Like humans, pets can get serious diseases or get injured in an accident that could end up costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Pet insurance can be tailored to fit your needs and can include preventative care, accident, illness, behavioral treatment and even alternative treatment.
Good to Know
A young healthy pet usually qualifies for any plan but some insurers have minimum age requirements, usually 6 to 10 weeks. Although some plans have no maximum age limits, many cut off first time enrollment at 10 to 14 years. Once you’ve enrolled your pet, most plans will offer coverage for life as long as the premiums are paid.
Pet owners can generally choose from three types of coverage: accident and illness, accident only and wellness. Accident and illness plans cover injuries and most illnesses. Accident only policies cover injuries after a mishap like a car accident or a poisoning. Wellness plans typically cover preventive care costs such as annual checkups and routine vaccinations.
Types of treatment covered
Coverage can vary among plans. Alternative and behavioral treatment can cover a wide variety of treatments, such as chiropractic care or acupuncture. Continual treatment extends coverage for a condition beyond the policy term. Some plans will reimburse you for exam fees, while others will not. Routine and wellness care covers things like teeth cleaning, spaying and neutering.
Most plans have a maximum payout cap. Depending on the policy, there may be a payout limit for the year, for your pet’s lifetime or for a type of incident or condition.
A deductible is the amount you pay out of pocket before the insurance company begins paying. Some policies have annual deductibles, meaning the deductible is reset at each policy renewal, while others have a per incident deductible.
Pet insurance plans do not cover pre-existing conditions but some will cover past conditions that have been cured for a certain time period. It is important to check the plan’s definition of a pre-existing condition as it varies depending on the insurer. Generally, a pre-existing condition is a medical issue that is apparent in your pet before you purchased the insurance policy.
Beyond pre-existing conditions, some plans exclude coverage for certain illness and conditions. As an example, some plans won’t cover hip dysplasia, a genetic disorder that is common in certain breeds
Most plans have a waiting period for coverage to begin after you initially sign up. For injuries and accidents, coverage usually begins after a day or two. For illness coverage, the waiting period is often 14 days or more.
Pet insurance plans reimburse you for a percentage of the treatment costs. You can choose the reimbursement level, such as 70%, 80% or 90%, when you purchase the policy. Some plans will reimburse you for a percentage of the vet bill while others will reimburse you a percentage of the “usual and customary” charges for treatment.
Prices for pet insurance are based on several factors such as: your pet’s age, your pet’s breed, where you live, coverage limits, coverage type, reimbursement level and deductible amount.
Check the Facts
- Two-Thirds of pet owners in the US primarily pay out of pocket for vet expenses according to a 2020 MetLife and CivicScience survey.
- According to the ASPCA, the cost of owning a pet can range, on average, from $227 to $2,008 per year.
- Nearly 70% of households in the US own a pet and of those pets, it is estimated that 1 in 3 will need emergency veterinary treatment every year, according to a survey by the American Pet Products Association.