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Pet Health Insurance - What Is and Do You Need It?

Not everyone can be as happy go lucky as Brownie. You can believe she's not worried about Pet Insurance at all!

What is Pet Health Insurance? Health insurance for your pet is very much like health insurance for yourself. A key difference is that almost all forms of pet health insurance are policy holder reimbursement based only. This means you need to pay your vet’s bills up front for later reimbursement from your pet health insurance carrier.

What is Pet Insurance for? Pet insurance can cover continuing wellness (think annual visits, required vaccinations), long term care (think cancer, diabetes, allergies), and medical emergencies. Each type of coverage can have specific exclusions, requirements and deductibles.

Is Pet Insurance worth it? Note that all forms of insurance are not the same as savings accounts. If you want to ‘self insure’ via using a savings account, the savings account’s unused funds are still yours. On average, most people pay more into insurance than they’ll get back in reimbursements. It’s this difference between the small payments you pay in and never get back in reimbursements which goes to fund unexpected payments (after the insurance company’s costs and profit of course). 

When you ask yourself, “Is it worth it?”, you’re betting your ability to manage small regular payments against managing unexpected large payments. Other considerations include what is covered and especially, what is not covered. If you love your pet and you don’t have the funds to cover a medical emergency which may cost several thousand dollars, then you should consider pet insurance. Your only alternative during an emergency without insurance will be to consider euthanasia.

Types of coverage: Pet insurance companies vary widely in what and how much they cover. Even within a single company, there are a multitude of different plans and plan options. You need to research and read the fine print of any pet insurance plan you consider.

When reviewing a plan, consider:

  • Is a physical exam required?
  • Is a medical review of vet records required?
  • Waiting period?
  • Deductible?
  • Percentage of bill covered?
  • Calculated after deductible?
  • Cap on payments?
  • Co-pays?
  • Preexisting conditions?
  • Chronic conditions?
  • Vet or animal hospital restrictions?
  • Prescription drugs?
  • Is your pet still covered if they travel with you?
  • Does the policy still pay if your pet is being treated and dies?
  • Breed restrictions for different medical conditions?
  • What ages accepted for coverage?
  • For what reasons can your insurance be canceled?

Places You Can Research Insurance Companies:

When to Buy: All pet health insurance companies require that your pet be currently healthy. Pet plans generally don’t cover pre-existing conditions. Puppies and kittens must be at least 6~10 weeks old. This varies by company. Senior pets may not be eligible for initial enrollment. Once enrolled, most companies will offer coverage for life so long as you continue paying premiums.

Insurance Companies: - This list is not complete. Being listed here is not an endorsement.

If you reading this from our website blog or from a PDF file with a computer, clicking on the company name will bring you to that company’s plan configuration page. Otherwise, just go to the website indicated for the insurance company you’re interested in.


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