With 20 different pet insurance companies in North America reported by the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA), understanding the ins and outs of the best policies can be complicated to say the least. With some policies covering only small expenses to others providing more extensive coverage, prices and coverage can vary drastically. If you’re looking to learn more about pet insurance to see if it makes sense for you and your pet, you’ll want to know the ins and outs before you take the plunge.
In addition to having over 30 years of experience fighting insurance companies, Mark Freeley, the North Shore Injury Lawyer is an avid animal lover and is the Pro-bono attorney and volunteer with Last Chance Animal Rescue on Long Island. Because of his clear passion for taking care of animals, Mark is continually being asked for advice on pet insurance and has become an expert on the topic, writing multiple articles and closely tracking how pet insurance has changed over the years. To learn Mark’s opinions and advice when it comes to the top things to know when buying pet insurance, keep reading below.
Important things to know
When you’re looking for pet insurance, there are some very important things to know and research beforehand. Here’s a summary of the top 10 according to Mark.
- The insurance coverage will automatically renew at the end of each policy period as long as you timely pay your premium, and your policy cannot be cancelled except for non- payment of premiums.
- The insurance coverage cannot be cancelled based upon the health of your pet.
- The insurance coverage cannot be changed or exclusions added on renewal based upon the health of your pet.
- The rates will not increase based upon the age of your pet.
- There are no lifetime coverage limits on what the policy will pay out for your pet.
- What are the annual/yearly coverage limits? These can range from $5,000.00 to unlimited. Given the cost of veterinary care and surgery, the higher the better.
- They will reimburse a percentage of the actual veterinary bills. The reimbursement percentage you select will affect the amount of your premium. These typically range from 60%to 90%.
- Are there veterinary/test/procedure benefit/fee/reimbursement caps/limits included in the policy? You do not want a policy with a usual and customary charges table to cap what they will pay for covered services.
- Is the deductible paid one time per year, or is it paid one time per incident or condition? For instance, under the Trupanion policy, the deductible only has to be paid one time per condition or type of illness for the life of the pet. Under the Healthy Paws Policy, you pay a one time yearly deductible. So, if your pet ends up with a chronic condition/illness, Trupanion would be better. If your pet ends up with many one time conditions, then Healthy Paws would be better.
- Does the policy cover chronic illnesses and hereditary conditions such as hip dysplasia? Also, is there an exclusion for bilateral conditions? Many policies do not cover any condition or disease that affects both sides of the body, as they deem that to be a pre-existing condition.
Why you should buy pet insurance
Since every pet becomes a member of your family, Mark recommends purchasing an accident/illness/injury policy to give you peace of mind for the unexpected. Emergencies happen and illnesses as your pet ages are inevitable. With the right insurance, you can feel confident that you are covered when chronic/lifetimess illnesses, surgeries, testing, and cancer treatment bills add up. After you check on the important things noted above, make sure to review your policy carefully to make sure what you were told is accurate.
Making the best decision for you
Since there are so many companies that offer pet insurance and every plan is different, you’ll want to read all the fine print and ask a lot of questions before making a commitment. Most of the plans have caps on benefits, and with the cost of veterinary care being so high, you certainly take a risk by having a cap on benefits. A good place to begin your search is Pet Insurance Review, which will provide you with a list of the different companies, a comparison between them, and a “user rating” score.
For Mark, the answer is simple. He wants insurance that will cover very expensive or chronic care if his dogs need it, and presently he would personally only consider a policy with Trupanion or Healthy Paws. While they don’t cover everything, they give pet owners peace of mind knowing that their pets have great coverage if something serious happens, which is exactly why people should buy insurance.