When you first locked eyes with your pet, you probably pictured all of the exciting adventures you’d go on together and the special memories you’d create together. You probably didn’t envision the potential emergencies and costly veterinary care that often come with being a pet owner. While shopping for pet insurance isn’t on the list of the most exciting things to do for most people, it can make a big difference when it comes to managing the financial responsibilities of pet ownership. Whether you’re looking to save money on routine veterinary care or want a safety net in case of injury or illness, the right pet insurance plan can keep more cash in your wallet while you support your pet’s health and wellbeing. Our team at South Shores Pet Clinic is here to help you choose the right plan, and we’ve put together some questions to ask when considering pet insurance.
How does pet insurance work?
Pet insurance helps reduce the financial risk of unexpected veterinary costs. Often, riders are available that may cover routine wellness and dental care for an additional cost. Most plan premiums are paid on a month-to-month basis. Each policy will outline what services are covered, the deductible cost, and the maximum payout (or annual limit).
How are pet owners reimbursed?
If you have insurance, and your pet is treated for a condition covered under their policy, you can submit a claim for reimbursement for the services. However, most pet insurance plans have a 14-day waiting period before you can file a claim, and conditions that arise during that period likely won’t be covered. For covered services, pet insurance companies offer one of two claims payment methods.
- Direct pay — The pet insurance company makes payments directly to the veterinarian, so you do not have to pay out of pocket or file a reimbursement claim.
- Reimbursement — Policyholders pay their provider in full and submit a reimbursement claim to the insurance company, which processes the claim and transfers the reimbursement to the policyholder via direct deposit or check.
What does pet insurance cover?
Pet insurance coverage varies by policy, but most companies offer the following plan types:
- Accident-only coverage — This plan type covers injuries or conditions considered accidental (bite wounds, cuts, broken bones, swallowed objects, etc.) but does not cover routine wellness services, such as vaccinations or medications. Emergency pet care can be expensive, and this option ensures your plan covers the costs of the care your pet will need in case of an accident.
- Illness and accident coverage — This plan type is more comprehensive and often covers the costs of diagnosis and treatment for conditions such as cancer, endocrine disorders, and some orthopedic injuries, as long as the conditions are not considered pre-existing.
- Wellness coverage — Most pet insurance companies offer wellness riders that can be added to accident and illness plans. These riders may cover preventive services, such as:
- Annual wellness exams
- Routine blood work
- Flea, tick, and heartworm prevention and testing
Think about your pet’s needs and research each coverage option carefully before choosing the best plan for you and your pet. Contact the insurance company directly to speak with a representative who can answer any coverage or price-related questions.
What is not covered by pet insurance?
Most pet insurance plans do not cover chronic, pre-existing conditions. A pre-existing condition is any health-related disorder that has been diagnosed before the pet’s health insurance coverage takes effect, including conditions that develop before or during the policy’s waiting period. If your pet has a health condition, you may wonder if they can qualify for a pet insurance plan. The answer is likely yes. While chronic pre-existing conditions are not usually covered, some curable chronic conditions may be covered after the pet has been symptom-free for a specific time period. To avoid the risk of your pet’s condition being excluded from coverage, purchase pet insurance when your pet is young and healthy.
Choosing the pet insurance plan that works best for you and your pet will take some time and careful consideration, and our team at South Shores Pet Clinic will be happy to provide recommendations. Contact us with any questions or to schedule your pet’s next wellness appointment.