8 Things You Need to Know When Shopping for Pet Insurance

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 avoid high vet bills with good pet insurance

Just like the humans in the family, our fur kids can get sick and need to see a doctor. We all want the very best for our pets, but the expensive costs of some conditions and treatments can lead to making difficult choices or decisions about their care. It’s upsetting enough when a furry family member is sick or injured, and the last thing you need to worry about is how you are going to pay for it.

Pet insurance helps reduce the worry of expensive vet bills by covering many unexpected expenses, often including tests, treatments, medications and more. You’ll need to do some research to find the plan that best meets your needs when it comes to balancing cost and level of coverage. Here’s what you need to know when comparing pet insurance policies:

1. Is it free to enroll?

Legitimate pet insurance companies do NOT charge an enrollment fee. Some may require you pay the first month or quarter upfront, but that payment will be applied directly to the cost of your policy.

2. Who is the insurance company’s underwriter and what is their rating?

As with health insurance for humans or even car and home insurance, you want to know about the financial health and credit rating of the company you are choosing to be sure they can afford to pay out the benefits promised if and when you need them. You can research insurance ratings online through A.M. Best Company or similar organizations.

3. Are prescription medications covered?

Coverage can vary by policy so be sure to verify. Some pet insurance plans only cover medication while others also include coverage for prescription pet food.

4. Can you choose your own deductible level?

While some pet parents like knowing that everything will be covered if they ever need it, plans with zero or very low deductibles are more pricey. Having a high-deductible plan for emergencies can be less expensive but still offer protection against unexpected expenses. It’s best to find a balance between the two that you are comfortable with so look for a plan that offers different options.

5. How does the plan define “pre-existing conditions” and what coverage is included/excluded if your pet has one?

This is one of those things that can be tricky, so do your homework. If your pet has been treated for an illness or condition in the past, you’ll need to do some research to see how future coverage is affected.

6. What about hereditary, congenital and chronic conditions?

Coverage for these issues can also vary by plan so be sure to also do your research here and know what’s covered. This is especially important if you have a purebred dog that is known to have breed-specific health problems.

7. Is it a wellness plan or pet insurance plan?

There are different types of plans out there. Some pet parents opt for one that allows them to prepay a flat rate each year and have preventative and routine care included at no additional cost. This is not the same thing as pet insurance coverage for emergencies, illness or injury. If you want to truly protect yourself, make sure you are insuring against unexpected and costly veterinary bills by reading the plan details carefully.

8. How is the plan rated for customer satisfaction?

As with any product or service, opinions will vary. You can research online and read customer reviews, but it’s also important to ask family, friends and neighbors about their experiences and opinions. You might want to drop by or call the vet’s office and ask the office staff what they think. They usually know about which insurance companies are easy to deal with and which ones the pet parents complain about. Some may even offer you their own plan, but keep in mind that those are NOT usually transferable to other doctors or practices and may not cover specialists.

If you are considering pet insurance, be sure to check out PetPlan Pet Insurance and save 5% since we’ve referred you! It’s what we’ve had for Daisy since we adopted her over 4  years ago and we’re really happy with it. Regardless of which insurance plan you choose, be sure to do your homework ahead of time and understand what’s covered and how it works. Being informed about what you are buying can help prevent problems and surprises later!

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  1. These are all things that I didn’t know about health insurance for pets!  My kids want a dog, so I am keeping this post handy.

  2. Interesting, I’ve never thought about pet insurance. My husband keeps saying that we’re getting a dog soon, I’ll have to mention the importance of pet insurance.

  3. I’ve actually been thinking about this a lot lately. Thanks for the tips!

  4. We don’t currently have pet insurance for our dog, but I think it’s something I am going to look into. Thanks for sharing these tips – they will help me make the right choice!

  5. We have a cat, but I’ve never thought of pet insurance before. Great list!

  6. sandy weinstein says

    all i can say is do your homework, i have researched most of the plans. i have had vpi for many yrs. 2 of my dogs have vpi, i decided to try the petsbest, which was started by the vet, owner, stephens, who started vpi. let me tell you, first they lied to me abt the rates on 2 dogs. when i called back, they gave me different rates. they i was told there was only 1 deductible per visit. not true, you can go to the vet for several things, like vaccines, and a problem, these are counted as 2 deductibles. i told them to send everything in writing. not done, send email. they have refused to pay for over 90% of my claims, said they could not read them. i spend over 10.oo after copying everything, and mailing-postage was 10.00 plus….still said they could not read them. i have tried to contact them and speak to them. cust service is terrible. they even said that the ivermectin, which is heartworm medicine was not accepted, they did not even know what ivermectin is….i am filing for arbitration, and if nothing happens will turn it over to my atty as well as the insurance commissioner. do not get petsbest….i have looked at several of the companies, i only look at companies that honor homeopathic as well, which akc does not….vpi is the best of the sorry lot….their customer service is better especially if you complain, if you are having problems…which i was a few yrs ago….i do not like that they go up every yr after your dog reaches 3 yr old. i am paying over 900.00/yr for my 11 yr old. when you call and ask, document everything they tell you and whom told you, date, times, etc. with every co. you call. 

  7. I have to disagree with the enrollment fee.  Healthy Paws had an enrollment fee and they have been nothing but easy and simple to work with. The reimbursement checks are quick to arrive.  I have had zero issues since joining and definitely am glad that I chose Healthy Paws.

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