FAQs on Pet Insurance

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Have you considered purchasing pet insurance? Or do you already have pet insurance? More and more pet owners are purchasing insurance, but still, only a very small percentage of pet owners have it. I hope I can answer some of the common questions I receive from clients regarding pet insurance.

Why do I need pet insurance?

In veterinary medicine we use many of the same diagnostics, medications, and therapies used in human medicine and as everyone knows, going to the doctor is very expensive. Unfortunately, many treatment decisions for pets are determined by the cost associated. If an owner has pet insurance, cost does not become the determining fact. Cost still needs to be factored in, but an owner can focus on the pet’s condition and the possible treatment options and decide what is best for the pet.

When is the best time to sign up?

Since insurance companies do not cover pre-existing conditions, it is best to sign up as soon as you get your dog or cat. Too often owners wait when their pet requires intensive medical treatments, and then wish they had signed up sooner.

What is covered in my insurance plan?

Every insurance plan is different and every company has different coverage plans. It is very important that you do your research and know what your plan covers. In most cases, pet insurance covers accident and illness, but does not cover wellness care. There are a few insurance companies that offer full coverage (meaning wellness care is covered), but these monthly premiums are typically a lot more expensive. Additionally, based on your pet’s medical history, certain conditions may be considered pre-existing conditions and not be covered. I always recommend looking at the part of your plan that highlights what is NOT covered, as this is likely easier to understand compared to what is covered.

How is this different from human insurance?

One of the biggest differences between pet insurance and human insurance is the fact that, with pet insurance, owners must pay up front, and then the insurance company reviews the owner’s claim and reimburses the owner. In veterinary medicine, the veterinarian does not handle insurance claims as is done in human medicine. Pet owners must have the means to pay for all services up front, then apply for reimbursement from the insurance company. This is another differentiating feature of insurance companies that pet owners should consider. I recommend looking at the average turnaround time from when a claim is submitted until the reimbursement is complete.

What insurance company do you recommend?

There are many insurance companies on the market, and I feel there are many good options. It really comes down to what your goal is with insurance. Things to consider:

  1. What is the monthly premium?
  2. What is the deductible? Is it an annual deductible or per incident?
  3. What is the coverage? (Usually 70%, 80%, 90%, or 100%)
  4. Is there an annual limit? Per incident limit? Or lifetime limit on the policy?
  5. What is NOT covered in the policy?
  6. How quick does the company provide reimbursement?

Drew Sullivan, DVM, Director
Medical District Veterinary Clinic