Pet insurance coverage varies significantly from provider to provider, and it is frequently less comprehensive than what pet owners would expect. Over the past year, there has been an increase in interest in pet insurance, but not all pet insurance products are made equal. Some firms may offer complete policies at low prices, but others may only provide basic policies with any additional coverage as an add-on to the base policy.
Like human health insurance, pet health insurance is available in various forms, each with its own set of coverage options and prices to consider. Although the terminology used by insurers differs, the three most prevalent types of coverage are as follows:
As the name implies, this coverage is often comprehensive and covers immunizations, routine exams, and dental treatment. This type of care is sometimes referred to as “routine” or “preventative” care. Wellness coverage often has no deductible, but it does not provide coverage for illness or injury.
Numerous standard animal care procedures are routinely included in the package price. Other services such as grooming and training services are sometimes included in the package price.
Accidental injuries, for instance, poisoning or ingestion of a foreign substance, getting hit by a car, cuts, and other bodily injuries, are covered under this policy. Pet owners frequently pick the accident-only coverage option with older animals who have outlived their full coverage options.
There will be no coverage for any injury that can be linked back to the pet owner, including intentional injuries or any accident resulting from participation in organized sports. Additionally, any damage resulting from a pre-existing ailment will not be covered by insurance.
Accidents and Illness
This sort of coverage is the most comprehensive, and it pays for veterinarian treatment for accidents, illnesses, and diseases, as well as, in most cases, any changes in your pet’s normal state of health. Depending on the insurer’s offerings, some pet owners choose to bundle wellness coverage with a comprehensive accident and illness policy to protect their animals from disease and injury.
Some insurance provides coverage for specific ailments, but only after a certain amount of time has passed. For example, an insurance company might cover the cost of hip dysplasia surgery, but only if the procedure is performed at least six months after the policy goes into effect.
Comprehensive plans are a type of average accident and illness insurance that includes wellness coverage, which is available as a separate plan or as an add-on in some cases. A wide range of additional treatments is also covered, including alternative therapies and a wide range of behavioral therapy and acupuncture treatments and chiropractic care, laser therapy, and hydrotherapy. Depending on the plan, some dietary supplements and foods required to treat your pet’s health condition are also covered.
Levels of Coverage
The majority of insurers offer several levels of coverage under each kind. These levels are commonly referred to as “basic,” “enhanced,” and “premium,” among other terms. As you might expect, the most basic plan is the least expensive and provides the least amount of protection.
Typical Coverage Situations and Conditions
Pet health insurance also has some of the same features as traditional health insurance, such as deductibles, co-pays, and annual or lifetime coverage caps, among other things. Pre-existing conditions are nearly never covered with health insurance. Another principal element of pet health insurance is the presence of a waiting period, which can last anywhere from 10 to 30 days before coverage is provided.
Model of Reimbursement
In addition, it’s crucial to understand that pet insurance is typically designed to compensate customers after they have already paid for veterinary services. However, coverage of 90 percent or even 100 percent is sometimes obtained in specific cases.
Options for Insurance Coverage
In addition to the coverage given by the type and level of coverage you select, most insurers also provide several additional benefits, some of which are included as part of the policy and others available at an additional cost. Here are a few illustrations:
• Paying for the expense of emergency veterinary care for the pet while the pet is out of the nation
• Liability insurance if your pet bites or injures someone (typically part of homeowner insurance, but some pet insurance includes it)
• Protection for the costs associated with providing a reward for recovering a lost or stolen pet, which may include the reward itself.
• The expenditure of caring for your pet if you are hospitalized is another consideration.
• Participation in an online community devoted to pet ownership and care.
How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost?
Like how much you pay for human health insurance, the amount you pay for pet health insurance coverage is determined by a range of criteria. These considerations include the animal’s age, health profile, breed, and the degree or type of insurance coverage you choose for the animal. Yearly premiums, deductibles, co-pays, and annual, lifetime, or incident caps are other cost elements involved with pet health insurance similar to those associated with human health insurance.
While the fundamentals of pet insurance have been described above, the fine print of pet insurance plans can contain critical information. Among the most typical requirements and exclusions are the following:
Pre-insurance examination or documentation required
Some companies need a veterinarian’s inspection, or at the very least records confirming the pet’s health history before they can accept the pet. Costs range from $600 to $1,200.
Maintenance is required on an annual basis.
Your insurance policy may demand annual wellness treatment, which may include immunizations, exams, and any other care recommended by your veterinarian, among other things. Cost (if you do not have wellness coverage): $90 to $400 (depending on your situation).
Bilateral Exclusion of a Condition
Medical conditions that can occur on both sides of the body, such as dysplasia, cruciate ligament troubles, and cataracts, are examples of what this exclusion refers to. It can be found in some pet insurance policies. Cost depends upon the nature of the problem and may go up to $5,000 or higher.
Vaccine-preventable diseases are excluded.
Failure to have a pet vaccinated for a disease is one trap that pet owners can fall into, only to discover that coverage is denied because of the failure to vaccinate. Canine influenza, kennel cough, giardia, and parvovirus are just a few diseases under this classification. Costs range from $130 to $684.
Many pet owners are astonished to learn that, while their insurance policy covers dental exams and cleanings, it does not cover actual disease of the teeth and gums in their pets. Costs range from $500 to $5,000.
Comparing the Cost and Coverage of Different Plans
While numerous aspects influence the cost of pet insurance and the coverage you pay, it is possible to compare coverage and price.
Health insurance coverage versus health-care costs
It costs on average $240 to $300 per year ($20 to $25 per month) to obtain wellness insurance coverage. Remember from earlier that the average cost of wellness or routine care is between $90 and $400 per visit. For example, if you employ all of the available treatment options (some, like spaying/neutering, can only be used once), you may end up with an extra $150 in your pocket for the spaying/neutering year alone. Your financial situation could be in jeopardy depending on how many health-care options you choose to use. As a result, the majority of specialists advise against purchasing wellness insurance.
Accident-only coverage vs. accident-cost
The typical yearly cost for accident-only coverage ranges from $126 to $194 ($11 to $16 per month), depending on the level of protection desired.
Even if your pet never consumes a foreign object, fractures a bone, or is struck by a car, many pet owners believe that the relatively inexpensive cost of accident coverage is well worth the peace of mind it provides them. As previously stated, owners of older animals who are no longer eligible for disease coverage may discover that accident-only coverage is the only logical option to illness coverage.
Accident and illness insurance vs. the cost of an accident or illness
In the United States, most pet insurance plans (98 percent) are written to cover accidents and illnesses. Cat owners pay $350 per month, while dog owners pay $585 ($48.50 per month) on average for their annual premiums. This does not contain wellness coverage, which is often an extra-cost add-on to a health insurance policy. If your pet does not suffer from an accident or illness during the year, you will receive no compensation. On the other hand, if it develops cancer, the government will compensate the patient for the majority of the up to $5,000 in treatment costs.