If you’re planning on adopting a pet, there’s a long list of things you’ll need to do to prepare, one of which is learning how pet insurance works. Pet insurance isn’t mandatory, so the first step is deciding whether or not it’s something you want to invest in. If you’ve ever asked yourself, “What does pet insurance cover?,” we’re here to help.
Unlike health insurance for humans, pet insurance requires full payment up front at the time of treatment, and reimbursement is then submitted after you file a claim. You will typically not be reimbursed in full.
Similar to health insurance, pet insurance does require a deductible and coversa percentage of your pet’s medical fees. Reimbursement varies by plan, but having pet insurance can help drastically reduce costly veterinary bills.
Pet insurance policies and costs vary based on the type of pet you’re adopting. Most plans only cover cats and dogs, but some do cover rabbits, birds and more. Plans also vary by breed: Pure breeds are most costly to insure, as they typically have more health problems than mixed breeds. Age is also a factor, as older pets typically encounter more health problems than their younger counterparts, making them more costly to insure.
Why You Should Consider Pet Insurance
As we mentioned, pet insurance is optional but should certainly be a consideration. If you’re adopting a purebred whose breed has a history of health problems or whose breed is known to eat anything in its path, pet insurance may be a good idea. For instance, if you adopt an energetic boxer and he tears his ACL while jumping off the sofa, surgery and after-care to repair the ACL will cost you upwards of $3,000. Likewise, if you’re adopting a labrador retriever and she develops cancer, chemotherapy treatments will run you upwards of $5,000. In both of those cases, it would be ideal to have some type of reimbursement.
On the other hand, if you’re adopting a mixed breed that seems to have a laidback demeanor, and you don’t fear he’ll jump off the sofa and injure himself, run into traffic or worse, you may want to forgo pet insurance (or choose a less extensive policy). It’s entirely up to you.
Pet insurance isn’t all-inclusive, and exclusions do exist. Certain things such as preexisting conditions and routine checkups are excluded from core coverage, but some policies allow them to be added as “endorsements” – add-ons to enhance your pet’s core coverage. Before choosing a plan, it’s important to research your options, read through what is covered and what is excluded and make an informed decision based on what you envision your pets needs to be.
What Does Pet Insurance Cover?
Pet insurance is there for emergencies, illnesses and more. It covers necessary medical costs when accidents occur and can also help pay for treatment when your pet is ill. Pet insurance policies vary by provider, but can typically be broken down into four main types:
- 12 Months Coverage: This type of pet insurance policy is one of the most basic ones. It is a one-year plan that covers a specific condition (such as cancer) for 12 months. Once the year is over, the condition will be considered preexisting and excluded from future coverage should you wish to continue with your pet insurance.
- Maximum Benefit Coverage: This type of pet insurance covers claims for a set amount per condition. It does have a max and is not lifetime coverage.
- Guaranteed Lifetime Coverage: This type of pet insurance is best for older pets. It covers them should illnesses or conditions arise later in life but will not cover lifelong or chronic diseases.
- Covered For Life Coverage: This is the most robust type of pet insurance. You need to renew the policy each year without fail, but doing so means your petwill be covered for chronic, recurring or lifelong illnesses or conditions for the entirety of their lives. You can claim reimbursement as many times as you need for the same illness, but typically the amount you can claim per year is capped to a set amount.
What Are Common Claims For Pet Insurance?
Pet insurance is akin to catastrophe insurance: It typically does not cover routine vet visits, but it is there in case of emergency. So, what does pet insurance cover? Different levels of coverage exist, but most basic plans cover:
- Accidental Injury: This type of pet insurance is there for emergencies such as broken bones, torn ACLs and flesh wounds. If your dog is attacked by another dog and requires stitches, this is covered. If your cat is hit by a car and breaks his leg, vet fees will be covered by pet insurance. Even snake bites are covered under accidental injury insurance.
- Illness: While preexisting conditions are excluded from most pet insurance plans, illness is not. If your pet suddenly falls sick with an upset stomach, skin infection or other illness, pet insurance will help reimburse you for the vet bills. Common illnesses include arthritis, cancer, colitis and more.
In addition to the above, some policies may include (or give you the option to add) extras such as spaying and neutering, microchipping, annual vaccines, dental procedures, hospitalization costs, flea and tick treatments and after-hours services. Some plans also reimburse emergency boarding costs should the owner become hospitalized and unable to care for the pet for an extended period of time.
Whether or not you choose to invest in pet insurance is entirely up to you, but it should certainly be a consideration.
Prior to reading the above, would you have been able to answer the question “What does pet insurance cover?” Tell us in the comments!