Although unfortunate, serious health conditions affect pets every day. Emergencies, sudden illnesses, and traumatic injuries keep veterinary emergency hospitals busy year-round. Statistically speaking, your pet is likely to need advanced medical care at least once in her lifetime.
A small percentage of pet owners factor emergencies and specialty care into their monthly budgets. Others scramble to scrape together money when an emergency arises. Sadly, many will not be able to come up with the necessary funds, and their pets will go untreated. Pet health insurance offers an alternative option that could potentially save your pet’s life and allow you to focus on your pet’s recovery instead of the cost of treatment.
What health conditions can pet insurance help with?
Animals experience many of the same diseases and health conditions as their human counterparts. Some common conditions typically covered by most pet health insurance policies include:
- Traumatic injuries — Broken bones, lacerations, and other injuries are caused by unfortunate events, such as dog fights and car accidents.
- Cancer — Pets can be affected by all types of cancers, including leukemia, bone cancer (osteosarcoma), brain cancer, and skin cancer (melanoma).
- Toxin exposure — Pets can get into all types of dangerous things—including rat poison, antifreeze, human medications, chocolate, and plants—that cause life-threatening toxicity.
- Pancreatitis — Brought on by ingestion of a fatty meal, pancreatic inflammation can lead to dangerous vomiting, abdominal pain, and dehydration.
- Back injuries — Your dog can develop disc disease in her back just as humans can, leaving her suddenly painful and even paralyzed.
- Ruptured cruciate ligaments — Called “ACLs” in human medicine, these injuries have become increasingly common—especially in large-breed dogs—and require an involved and expensive surgery generally performed by a specialist surgeon.
- Diabetes — Affecting both dogs and cats, diabetes requires lifelong testing and treatment.
- Heart disease — A number of conditions affect the heart’s ability to maintain circulation and blood pressure, often leading to accumulation of fluid in the lungs and difficulty breathing.
- Gastrointestinal foreign body/intestinal obstruction — Dogs are known for eating things they shouldn’t. Items like small toys and socks often become lodged in the stomach or intestines, requiring surgical removal.
These medical situations involve unplanned veterinary visits and diagnostic tests. Treatment can include hospital stays with advanced monitoring, anesthesia and surgical procedures, and expensive medications. The cost of the various components of treatment add up quickly, easily reaching thousands of dollars.
What pet insurance company should you choose?
A quick internet search will reveal a list of pet health insurance companies. But, which company and policy is right for you and your pet? Thoroughly research the companies you are considering and the plans they offer.
As you research, be sure to read many customer reviews, noting the positive and negative experiences consumers have had with different companies. You can also reference reviews from the Better Business Bureau or Consumer Reports.
What questions should you ask before choosing a policy?
Once you choose an insurance company, you will need to decide what type of policy will best fit your pet’s needs. Consider the following:
- Which services will be covered? Some policies cover routine preventive care, such as wellness exams, vaccines, and dental cleanings, while others cover emergencies, injuries, and illnesses only.
- Which doctors and hospitals can you visit? You will want a policy that allows you to choose a veterinarian, instead of having to use a facility from an approved list.
- Which conditions will be covered? Some policies will not cover health problems, such as hereditary diseases, chronic illnesses, or congenital diseases present from birth. Most will not cover pre-existing conditions.
- Is there an age limit? With some policies, pets are no longer eligible for coverage after a certain age.
- What is the monthly cost? Monthly premiums will vary depending on the services included, deductible, and reimbursement level of the policy. You should also find out if the premium will increase after you file a claim.
- How much is the deductible? Some companies allow you to choose your deductible, which affects your monthly cost.
- Does the deductible apply to each claim or to an entire year?
- What is the reimbursement rate? After the deductible is met, what percentage of the remaining cost will the company pay? Typical payouts range from 25 to 90 percent.
- Is there a limit on payouts? What is the maximum amount per year—or over the policy lifetime—that the company will pay out? Ongoing costs of treating a chronic illness can easily reach thousands of dollars a year.
- How will claims be paid? Will payment be made directly to the veterinary hospital at the time of service, which limits your out-of-pocket costs, or will you be required to pay the bill, file a claim, and wait for reimbursement?
Questions about pet insurance? Give us a call.