The Basics of Pet Insurance
Most people’s experience with insurance usually comes in two forms: health insurance and car insurance. Of the two, pet insurance will in some ways more closely resemble car insurance, at least in terms and expectations. With health insurance, the bill usually goes to the company first, and the patient after. With animal insurance, you will most likely have to pay up front, and submit a claim for reimbursement. As pet insurance becomes more popular and we take better care of our pets, some insurers are offering plans that operate closer to a traditional health insurance plan. These policies, however, are still rare.
Many pet insurance policies will include a deductible. Just like health insurance (and most other insurance policies), this is an amount you must pay before your insurance begins to pay out. A helpful tip is to try to get an idea of how much money you’re spending on your pet’s health per year. If the deductible is higher than that amount, the policy might not make financial sense. If it is on the lower end of the spectrum, then the plan could be a better investment.
Another term that might be familiar is co-insurance. With these plans, after a deductible is paid, the program simply pays a flat percentage of the total cost of your pet’s healthcare. While these are not as popular for human health insurance plans, they can make lots of sense for pet owners who may not be able to afford a more traditional pet insurance policy. Some policies may only pay for particular types of care, however. For example, they will pay for care related to injury, but not an illness.
Instead of paying a percentage, some plans use something called a benefit schedule. These are tables that usually list the maximum the policy pays for an illness or injury and its treatment. They are often bewildering documents that can be difficult to decipher. If you can figure out which row and column apply to your situation, however, you can learn the exact amount your insurance will cover.
The other important aspect to consider is what is covered. Not all plans cover the same things. Some focus more on emergency care; others are more helpful for routine visits to the vet. Most plans will have different levels of care, some covering only injury, others covering illness as well. The more expensive plans will also include the congenital health problems some dog and cat breeds face. With most pet insurance policies, there is a list of things that are explicitly not included. As with health insurance, these are called exclusions. Read more about exclusions by clicking the “next” button below…