Which Pet Insurance Is Right For Tater Tot?
Pet insurance is a crucial, and confusing, aspect of owning a pet. You aren't sure what's covered, or what a reasonable price is because pet insurance is totally different from our health insurance. And on top of it all — it’s summer! Your pup’s favorite time of year. It’s time to play fetch at the beach, go on hikes, swim in lakes, and embark on all sorts of fun outdoor activities!
As excited as we are, we also have to remember that, along with the guaranteed summer fun, your furry pal will also be at risk due to higher temps, harmful algae in the water, and more bugs buzzin’ around. You don’t have to stay indoors to avoid harm — just make sure you and your pup are prepared!
There are a few ways to get your pooch ready for summer-specific risks, but it’s also a great time to think about pet insurance. We love our pets and often believe that we would do anything for them. But what happens when your pup comes down with a serious illness, or ingests something toxic? If you aren’t rolling in the dough, then you’ll be faced with a heartbreaking dilemma: can you afford proper healthcare for your pet?
Prepare For The Unexpected
Instead of waiting for an accident to happen, prepare yourself now. Some owners choose to create a pet savings account so that, if needed, they have some extra cash ready for Fido’s surgery. But oftentimes, the amount saved isn’t enough, and without pet insurance, the extra costs tacked on for specialty vets, medication, or surgery can be too much of a financial burden.
If you are one the lucky pet owners who has never had to take your pup for an emergency visit at the V-E-T, then pet insurance may seem unnecessary. But take a look at the average costs for some of the unexpected injuries that your beloved pooch could get into:
- Toxin ingestion: $6,500
- Heat stroke: $4,200
- Gastrointestinal foreign body surgery (ate a diaper, tennis ball, etc.): $3,275
- Vomiting and diarrhea (pancreatitis treatment): $3,000
- Back surgery for ruptured disc: $5,600
That’s a big chunk of change for an unexpected injury, even one that you may think is no big deal. “Dogs eat strange things all the time, no biggie!” Well, do you think that $6,500 to treat your pet for toxic ingestion is no big deal? We don’t, either. As any parent knows, our little pups get into accidents far too often to live on the hope that things will just be OK.
What Are You Looking For In Pet Insurance?
One of the first things to realize when it comes to pet insurance is that it’s far different from the way human health insurance works. Here are the top differences among most pet insurance plans.
- You pay upfront at the vet, then fill out reimbursement forms to send to your insurance company along with the vet bill.
- Many plans cover accidental injuries and illnesses, but not routine check ups and visits.
- There are many exclusions that vary from plan to plan, so make sure you read the fine print and have a list of questions ready to ask when you compare pet insurance companies.
- Many pet insurance plans are pretty flexible. You can choose from a variety of coverage options, from emergency care only, to everyday care, to full coverage! Customizing a plan that is within your budget is much easier than picking out health insurance for yourself.
Compare Pet Insurance Options
As with any type of insurance, there are a lot of variables when you decide to compare pet insurance companies. Cost is a big determining factor, but there is so much more to keep in mind!
Luckily for pet owners, there are some basic factors to consider when you're determining which provider works for you. Check out this breakdown of helpful criteria from Consumer Advocates:
- Comprehensive coverage: Comprehensive coverage covers ALL accidents, illnesses, and health issues, including hereditary and congenital conditions (which have some of the most costly treatments). Many plans do not include hereditary conditions, so this could be a big factor if you are choosing to buy insurance for an older pet.
- Benefit limits: Oftentimes, the cheaper the plan, the more likely that you’ll see more limits and non-permitted illnesses or issues. Once you narrow down your options, check the common illnesses or afflictions for your dog’s breed. If they aren’t covered, you may need to pick a different plan.
- Deductible type: Can be either annual or per incident/condition. Annual: Paying one lump sum may be preferable if you have the cash on hand. It’s one less payment to remember to schedule. Per incident or per condition: If your pet doesn’t get into much mischief, and you don’t mind running the risk, you would only pay for each incident that merits a trip to the vet.
- Pay-out model: The best pet insurance plans are based on the actual vet bill, and have a flexible amount that can be utilized. Some pet insurance plans have confusing benefit schedules which limit how often you can use your pet insurance to cover a vet bill.
- Verified reviews from customers
Customize A Pet Insurance Plan For Your Pup
Now that you’ve decided to go ahead with pet insurance for your four-legged friend, let’s go over one last thing. As awesome as it is to have a customizable plan, it also means you may have more information than you know what to do with. Remember when I said to have a list of questions ready to ask as you compare pet insurance providers? Here’s a great start to that list:
Important questions to ask a possible provider.
- Is there a physical exam required to get coverage?
- Is there a waiting period?
- Are chronic or recurring problems covered?
- What percentage of the bill do they pay? How does that compare to the deductible?
- Is there a maximum on payments?
- Is there a co-pay? If so, what are the options?
- Are pre-existing conditions covered?
- Am I limited to certain veterinarians?
- What is the medication coverage like?
- What if something goes wrong while my pet is being treated?