“Health insurance is complicated,” as one of our current political figures recently asserted. It’s even more so when you’re seeking coverage for your dog or cat. While pet insurance has been around since 1982 in the U.S., only 1% of America’s pets have health coverage, compared with 25% of the United Kingdom’s, and 40% of Sweden’s. One of the reasons more pet owners have chosen not to obtain pet insurance is the cost of the monthly premium. Does that ring home?
Certainly if you’re investing in a plan, which isn’t being used regularly, pet insurance might not be right for you. If your veterinarian is telling you your pet is healthy and only needs annual check-ups, you might consider taking a pass.
However if you’re not sure and are interested in preventative maintenance and a few other benefits, here are some tips for consideration to help you make an informed decision.
Avoid major debt
If you maintain an emergency fund for a rainy day, you might be able to take care of your pet’s unexpected health issues. However, paying off your pet's health bills with credit cards when money is tight might not be the wisest decision.
So to reduce that risk factor, consider taking on monthly premiums you can afford. By amortizing these expenses over time, a monthly payment may be less painful and stressful than incurring a large hit in one lump sum. By looking toward the future with a cautious preventative eye, pet health insurance may be worth your peace of mind.
Enrolling your pet in health insurance coverage when they are young is also a preventative measure. When they are pups or kittens, you can get better coverage at lower rates.
Differing from Obamacare for humans, no pet insurance provider will cover pre-existing conditions, which makes getting coverage when your pet is older a lot more difficult . . . and definitely more expensive, if possible at all.
"If your pet is a senior and/or has pre-existing conditions, you may want to consider the accident-only plan," says Chris Middleton, president of Pets Best, a leading pet insurance provider. "Or get the accident-only plan and add routine care to it." [See Three Types of Insurance below]
Your Pet’s Breed is a factor
Some breeds are more prone to hereditary conditions and medical issues. This is especially true with pedigrees where there has been a lot of inbreeding over time, between siblings and other family members.
Some insurance companies have done the research and will actually charge you higher monthly premiums based on your dog’s breed. For example, you can expect to pay $45 a month for a Labrador retriever versus $53 a month for an English bulldog, according to PetInsuranceQuotes.com.
So, if you are in the market for a pet, you might want review insurance policies by breed to determine the monthly premium that works best with your budget.
Many veterinarians offer financing, payment plans, and discounts, so consider discussing your financial needs in advance. They might also work with a credit lender (like CareCredit), which allows you to pay the fees over the course of several months with no interest, upon credit approval. You can also look into private veterinary discount plans like PetAssure.
Three Types of Insurance
Most pet insurance companies list their overage in three categories. The lowest risk type is an accident-only plan, which only covers accidents and emergencies. For instance, car accidents or fights with other dogs. This coverage does not include any hereditary issues, serious health conditions or pre-existing conditions.
Conversely, you might want to consider a wellness plan, which excludes accidents, but regular routine care, like annual check-up, dental cleanings, and ongoing medications, like heartworm and flea-and-tick prevention.
The third option is the most expensive. It's similar to major medical plans for humans, and very popular because this type of insurance takes care of all expenses, except wellness and routine care. Accidents, illnesses, cancer, orthopedic issues, hereditary conditions, and prescription meds are all included. The monthly premium with this option is obviously the most expensive and is primarily determined by the breed of pet [see Your Pet’s Breed is a factor’ above].
Best Pet Insurance Policies in the market
Healthy Paws is considered the best of the best based on the following features:
- 1] Lots of Plan Options with No Caps – We were impressed that Healthy Paws offers three annual deductible levels ($100, $250 or $500), three percentage options for actual vet bill payouts (70%, 80% or 90%) and there is no cap (per-incident, lifetime, or otherwise) on any of their claims.
- 2] No Yearly Limits – Once you meet your annual deductible, all policy-covered incidents will be paid during that year, while most companies pay back after each incident deductible has been met. So, if your pet is susceptible to trouble more than once a year or you just want to be on the safe side, this plan could be a good fit.
- 3]The Best Customer Service – Healthy Paws has some of the best customer service reviews in the business.
- 4]Hereditary & Congenital Conditions and Hip Dysplasia – Most hereditary and congenital conditions, as well as hip dysplasia, are paid. These factors make it an especially great choice if you have a breed that is genetically predisposed to these types of conditions. But, be sure to sign them up when they’re young and do not have any pre-existing conditions.
- 5] Low Premium Prices – Most consumers report lower premium prices for similar coverage (unlimited lifetime benefits with no claim limits).
For an in-depth review of Healthy Paws, the Canine Journal provides you with some additional insight as to why this insurance is considered the best in the market today. Readers, you can receive a 10% discount using this Healthy Paws’ link.
Primary Source: Pet Insurance Quotes