Do you have a medical insurance provider for your pet? If no, why not? The cost of veterinary care often prohibits people from seeking veterinary care right away or declining appropriate care due to financial restraints. Dr. Anna Coffin hopes after reading this article you will purchase a pet insurance policy.
Pet insurance companies have been providing accident and illness insurance to pets for over twenty years. Pet insurance works differently than human insurance. In fact, pet health insurance is more like home and auto insurance.
- Most companies don’t dictate which doctor you go to for services.
- Pet health insurance companies don’t dictate how the veterinarian treats your pet.
- You pay your veterinarian, and the insurance company reimburses you for the bill.
Questions to ask when comparing pet insurance companies:
- What species are covered?
- Is the deductible per condition or annual?
- What conditions count toward your deductible?
- What conditions are excluded from the policy?
- What is the insurance rating of the company?
- How long has the company been in business?
- What is the history of rate increases?
- Is there a different reimbursement rate for specialty care versus primary veterinary care?
- Do they cover hereditary, congenital and chronic health conditions?
- Is there a payout cap?
- What is the waiting period for filing an accident or illness claim?
- Does your policy cover pre-existing conditions?
Understanding deductibles and reimbursements:
Deductible: The higher your deductible, the lower your monthly payment. Most pet insurance companies allow you to choose from a variety of deductibles. You are responsible for 100% of your pet’s veterinary bill until the deductible is paid. After which your pet insurance plan pays according to the reimbursement model you choose (see below).
- Annual deductible: This includes all conditions, accidents, and illnesses that occur within the calendar year. Once the calendar year ends, you must meet your deductible again. Anna Coffin recommends this deductible type.
- Per condition lifetime or annual: Deductibles must be met for each condition for a lifetime or will reset annually.
Reimbursement model: Once you meet your deductible, you will be repaid based on which model you choose.
- Actual cost model: You are paid a percentage of your actual veterinary bill. Most pet insurance companies allow you to choose the percentage. Anna Coffin recommends an actual cost model with 80% reimbursement.
- Benefit schedule model: The company has pre-determined a fixed amount they will pay for each condition, procedure or illness. If you choose this model, make sure you scrutinize the payout values for each condition.
- Usual and Customary model: The company has determined a fixed amount for each procedure based on your location.
Pet insurance is affordable. The cost of pet insurance varies depending on your pet’s breed, age, and health, as well as the deductible amount and reimbursement level. However, the average cost usually ranges from $20 – $50 per month, which adds up to $240 – $600 annually. One major medical illness will easily pay for this annual premium.