Like many dog owners, you probably consider your precious pet a member of the family. And as with any loved one, when they’re ill or injured you want to be able to provide the best possible care. However, veterinary care for a serious condition can be cost-prohibitive, just as if you needed medical treatment and had no health insurance.
But there is help available. Many people are unaware that health insurance is available for your dog (or cat) that will reimburse you for a large portion of the cost to treat your pet.
Most pet insurance is indemnity coverage, which means that you pay the vet, then get reimbursed a portion of the cost (usually 80 – 90%, depending on your coverage,) less any deductibles or co-pays. This can potentially save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars a year. Depending on the coverage and deductible levels you choose, the cost can be as low as $20.00 a month or so.
The chart below [from Trupanion™, a founding member of the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA)] illustrates the cost of a few common pet ailments, and how much you can save with pet insurance coverage.
As with any type of insurance, you need to do your homework before you decide which of the dozen or so major companies to go with. Policy specifics can vary greatly from one company to another, so it is important to know exactly what each offers. Things to look for include:
- What is covered
- “Preexisting” coverage
- Maximum coverage levels
- Reimbursement levels
- Policy costs and payment options
- Refund and cancellation policies
Some companies offer additional medical coverage options, each of which would increase the total cost of the policy, such as:
- Prescription drug coverage
- Dental plans
- Cancer treatment
- Alternative therapies, such as chiropractic, acupuncture, and veterinary orthopedic manipulation (VOM) and massage therapy
Pet Insurance Underwriters
Probably the best way to start is to visit multiple insurance companies’ websites to get an overview of available products and services. Choose the coverage, deductible levels, and features that you want most, then go to the websites to request a quote. Try to select options that most closely match on each site so that you can compare “apples to apples.”
Some of the top pet insurance companies include:
(links open in new windows)
- Embrace Pet Insurance
- PetFirst Healthcare
- PetPlan Pet Insurance
- Pet’s Best Insurance
- Nationwide Pet Insurance
- 24PetWatch Pet Insurance
The bottom line is that, similar to human health insurance, pet insurance can provide you the peace of mind that your precious pet will receive the care needed in case of sickness, injury, or just getting older. Its purpose is to help cover the costs of unexpected accidents and illnesses that may occur in the future, and help keep your pet active and healthy for years to come.