Pet insurance can take the pain out of unexpected vet bills so you can focus on getting your dog or cat the care they need. But with so many different types of plans out there, it can be difficult to find the one that’s right for your pet. Your best bet is to contact a few companies to request a quote and sample policy, and then compare them.
To help you get started, here are answers to some common questions.
What is the best pet insurance plan?
There is no one answer because the “best” insurance plan for one owner and pet isn’t the same for the next. Ask yourself the following questions to help narrow down your options:
- How much am I willing to pay each month?
- What kind of coverage do I need?
- Would I rather pay more each month (higher deductible) or pay more at the time of care if my pet has an accident or is diagnosed with an illness (lower deductible)?
How much does it cost?
Cost depends on several factors, including:
- Where you live
- Type of pet
- Number of pets enrolled
- Pet’s age and breed
- If your pet has a pre-existing condition
- Type of coverage
Some plans give discounts for pets that are spayed/neutered or microchipped. Plans also may give discounts to owners with certain affiliations, such as those enlisted in the armed forces, members of a certain bank, or current customers of an insurance company that also offers pet insurance.
Some companies may offer pet insurance as an employee discount. Be sure to check with your HR department.
What does it cover?
You can see what each company does and doesn’t cover in the “Sample Policy” document on their website.
- The most common plans are “comprehensive” plans that cover emergencies and illnesses.
- There are also “accident-only” plans that cover only accidents and emergencies.
- Many companies also have “add-ons” that can widen your coverage, such as wellness plans that cover preventive treatments like yearly vaccines, heartworm medications, or screening for infectious diseases like Lyme disease.
My pet is currently being treated for an illness, will they be covered?
Currently no pet insurance companies cover “pre-existing conditions,” defined as any health issue that your pet has already been diagnosed with or shown signs of before your coverage begins. But if your pet has a pre-existing condition, that doesn’t mean they won’t be covered for other illnesses.
- Your pet may still be eligible for pet insurance, but the insurance company will need more information from you and your veterinarian to determine what they’ll cover.
- Before choosing a plan, make sure you’re clear on what is and isn’t covered to avoid surprises in the future.
- Be honest with your pet insurance company. Hiding the fact that your pet has had an illness may disqualify you from future coverage and leave you with unexpected bills.
Is there an alternative to pet insurance?
If you don’t want pet insurance or aren’t eligible, you can still plan for the future.
- Start a pet care fund and contribute a set amount to it each month. If your pet ends up needing medical care, you’ll have money set aside. If not, you can use the funds for yourself or to help another animal in need.
- There are a small number of discount plans available which may allow you to save some money on medical and other pet care costs.
- Before enrolling in a discount plan, do your research to make sure it includes benefits you need and that your veterinarian will accept it. Not all veterinarians accept discount plans.
If a sudden accident or illness occurs, having pet insurance can be a lifesaver. But not all conditions are covered by all plans, so it’s important to read the fine print before you buy. Here’s a breakdown of some common terms you may encounter while researching your options. Understanding the lingo will help you choose the insurance policy that’s best for your pet.
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