When 6-year-old Labrador Retriever, Misty, went in for a routine spay, she didn’t recover as expected. Transferred to a University Veterinary Teaching Hospital, it was discovered Misty had a very rare complication of her spleen, requiring its removal. During the 10-day period to save Msity's life, she receive 26 units of plasma and 9 units of blood from 30 donor dogs. Her bill totaled more than $18,000 of which her pet health insurance paid $14,500.
When my previous Cocker Spaniel, Brandy Noel, was diagnosed with a stage II mast cell tumor (cancer), surgery, treatment, and followup care totaled over $3,000. Our pet insurance covered 80 percent of that and we had our reimbursement check within 30 days.
Like their human counterparts, we never know when the need for health insurance will arise. Dogs suffer accidents, injuries, mishaps and unexpected diagnoses as we all do. Dog parents know all too well the sacrifices made in the name of dog. They rely on us, but will the funds be there when the time comes? I am of the “if my dog needs it, I will do it no matter what” mantra. However, having pet health insurance in place can be a lifesaver, literally.
For many, pet health insurance is becoming a viable option. Knowing the insurance is there for routine usage as well as emergency situations or disease diagnosis and treatment means most of all, peace of mind. With so many different insurances available, just where does one start? Is it worth it? How much will it cost? Fidose of Reality has the pet insurance scoop, as we are nearly 20-years pet insurance policy holders.
Considerations and Tips on Pet Insurance
According to Ting Pen of Value Penguin, pet insurance is largely similar to health insurance for people. The primary benefits pet insurance will give you are: a financial investment towards your pet's health, and a priceless peace of mind that their medical needs will be seen to.Pet insurance plans come in multiple and creative shapes, sizes, and sums. This is why it is extremely important to compare pet insurance plans to make sure you’re getting the coverage for your investment. You can start with a pet insurance comparison tool like ValuePenguin’s to look at different quotes within your budget, then dive into their benefit coverage and exclusions to see what makes sense for your pet. To guide you through the complexity of pet health insurance policies, Ting Pen shared below five tips:
Five Tips on Pet Insurance
· Accident and Illness coverage makes the most sense: Consider getting coverage for accidents and illnesses as a safe baseline. While coverage for accidents can be the cheapest option for your budget, keep in mind the below points in beginning to assess what is sensible for your family. It’s reasonable to expect that at some point, your pet is going to have at least one of each. Generally speaking, the peace of mind with this base coverage on average can range from $20 – $40 a month, but this varies with features and where you live. As for wellness, you know the routine care your pet undergoes better than anyone. Does the additional premium each month adequately cover your pets routine care?
· Understand your plan deductibles and limits: There are creative ways to structure benefit payments, and I’ll talk about them in terms of floors and ceilings. Most plans require you to spend a minimum amount before they start reimbursing your veterinary expenses, and this is the deductible. The tricky part is whether there is a true plan-wide deductible, or whether the plan has individual deductibles for different categories. On to ceilings: this is known as the policy limit. Is there an annual, incident, or lifetime limit? If a pet has cancer, which can require multiple rounds of treatment and therapy, is the insurance only covering up to $1,000 per year or $2,500 for the lifetime limit?
· Research your pet’s breed history: See if there are any genetic conditions or illnesses he or she is predisposed to, and check that the insurer covers that medical event for your dog. Some plans will only cover hereditary or congenital diseases if your pet is enrolled prior to his or her second birthday.
· Read the fine print, especially on what gets covered. I found insurers who excluded different items from their claims reimbursements. Do companies cover the vet office visit fee, the diagnosis and treatment fees, and prescription medications? It is important to compare policies from different pet insurers you're considering.
· Insure your pet sooner rather than later: Insurance providers start phasing older dogs out of general medical coverage, and this can begin as early as six years of age. They also universally don’t cover pre-existing conditions, so by the time Fido or Kitty develops something, it will likely be too late to get a plan that will pay for their diagnosis and treatment.
Here are some additional questions Fidose of Reality recommends you review before making a decision on pet insurance:
- Find out what's covered and what isn't. In addition, ask how much of an illness will be covered and are there any financial or pre-existing considerations? How quickly are claims paid and is my breed covered? What are my deductibles and how quickly can I expect the claims to be paid?
- Is routine wellness care covered? Will rates increase? Are medicines and prescriptions covered? What about holistic veterinary care?
- Is there a discount for multiple pet households? Why might I be denied coverage? Is my pet covered if they travel with me? Any exclusions? What are the annual limits for vet fees?
- Are there any illness or accident caps? Can I ever be dropped from the plan? Do my out-of-pocket expenses increase every year? Does the policy increase as my dog ages?
- Can I make payments each month? Are there layers of plans/choices? Is there a waiting period?
As pet parents, knowing pet health insurance is available is all the reassurance some people need. For more information check out our sidebar of some of the main pet health insurances available as of this printing. Each individual can decide what plan is best for their unique situation.