When I adopted Daisy, my mixed breed Husky way back in 2002, I never expected how much her unconditional love, loyalty, and companionship would forever change my life for the better.
In hindsight, I was often visiting my veterinarian considering Daisy’s string of illnesses and injuries including a sprained paw, a scratched eye, a cancerous tumor on her paw, and pancreatitis. Paying for her care, even if it meant cutting back somewhere else, was a responsibility I would bear. For all she did for me, how could I let money be the deciding factor when it came to her health and wellbeing?
Are You Prepared for the Unexpected?
There are many different accidents, injuries, and illnesses you and your pet can experience (and you have to pay for) over the course of ten or more years. Daisy was your typical active dog, and she managed to create about $6,000 in veterinary bills over her lifetime. Pancreatitis, requiring care at the emergency clinic, was the most unexpected of all. It cost over $2,000. That is not a small item on a credit card bill for anyone unless you are Oprah! And your decision to provide your pet with the best medical care should never be based on a number in your bank account.
Pet Insurance Basics
Most pet health insurance plans have a few basics in common. You usually select a reimbursement and deductible; can go to any veterinarian you choose; pay your vet first, file a claim and then get reimbursed; and pre-existing conditions and related treatments are not covered. Breeding issues, experimental treatments, and cosmetic surgery like declawing and tail docking are also typically not covered.
There are also substantial differences between companies. These differences often impact if your claim is covered or how much you get reimbursed after a veterinary visit. Some of the most important differences are:
- Coverage. Is the pet insurance plan easy to understand? Look closely at coverage and exclusions. For example, congenital and hereditary conditions (like heart defects, eye cataracts or diabetes) are very expensive to treat and must be covered.
- Reimbursement Method. Not all pet insurance companies pay on the actual veterinary bill and this lowers your reimbursement. Beware of Benefit Schedules or "Usual and Customary" policy language, as it may lower your reimbursement amounts.
- Limits. Are any limits or caps applied per incident, per year, or over the pet’s lifetime? These can impact your ability to get reimbursed.
- Customer Care. Insurance is all about service once the policy is purchased. What are their customers saying about their care and claims experience?
Cost and Coverage
Pet Insurance is not like car insurance where finding the cheapest plan doesn’t change your coverage. A cheap plan equals greatly restricted coverage. Of course, that doesn’t mean a quality plan can’t be affordable. You can find comprehensive accident and illness coverage starting at $15/mo for cats and $25/mo for dogs and have peace of mind that you and your pet are well protected. It’s a small cost considering how much they give to us!
- Steve, Co-Founder