Pet insurance is something that has been around for quite a long time but is now becoming more and more popular. It is an amazing service that unfortunately, many people do not know about, or take advantage of. When thinking about insurance, many people immediately get nervous and think of times they may have gotten the short end of the stick with other types of insurance (car, home, etc.). There are many great pet insurance companies out there that I have seen help so many animals in need, without causing headaches and heartaches for the owner. Pet insurance is a different service than what a veterinary clinic offers, our clinic is in no way affiliated with the companies, and we receive nothing if you sign up. It is not a scam, and many of our staff pets (including mine) are insured.
For those that don’t know, pet insurance is insurance sort of like what you would get for a car or a house. You pay a monthly premium, then if something happens and your pet requires veterinary care, you pay a deductible, and your pet insurance company will pay you back for the cost of the veterinary care. Some pet insurance companies only require you to pay the deductible once per year, no matter how many times you have to take your pet to the vet. If you’re lucky and have a healthy pet, you may not even need to pay the deductible at all! As pet owners, we all want what is best for our pets, and when they are sick, we want to do everything possible to make them better. One in three pets will need emergency veterinary treatment every year. 75% of all dogs and cats will become ill or injured at some point in their lives. Pet insurance takes the financial worry out of the already stressful situation of having a sick pet.
There are many different companies and many different pet insurance plans out there. Be sure to do your research and ask your veterinary care team which companies they recommend. Two companies that we frequently use ourselves and recommend are Trupanion and Pets Plus Us. Personally and professionally, we have seen great results with these companies. Many pet insurance companies offer different plans, based on what the owner wants. Plans such as accident only, versus accident and illness, are common choices. Accident only plans cover precisely that, just accidents. So they would cover your pet falling out a window (yes, it happens), getting hit by a car, etc. Accident and illness plans cover accidents, as well as illness such as kidney failure, heart disease and many other illnesses. The plan you pick depends entirely on you, your choices and your budget. Accident only plans cover less but do generally have a cheaper monthly premium. But then if your pet gets an illness, which most do at some point, you will have to pay out of pocket.
Many pet insurance companies have websites where you can create an online quote. With this option, you can play around to see how much your monthly premium would be. Many companies allow you to adjust your deductible, payout percentage (most companies reimburse 80%-90% of the vet bill), as well as the amount of monetary coverage (payout limit) per year to find a monthly premium that works for you. Some companies will charge you more based on breed and age of your pet, while others won’t. Feel free to shop around and ask your veterinary clinic which ones don’t. Pets Plus Us does not have an age or breed exclusion, and Trupanion has no payout limits. Many companies also offer free trials; your veterinary clinic can help set you up with this.
As with all types of insurance, pet insurance will not cover pre-existing conditions. So, if your pet has kidney failure when you sign them up for insurance, the insurance will not pay out anything having to do with the kidney failure. This is why we encourage people to sign up as soon as they get a pet, whether from a rescue or as a puppy or kitten. The insurance company will know if something is wrong with your pet, as they request veterinary records as soon as you sign up. Another thing to keep in mind when signing up for insurance is that there are waiting periods. A lot of insurance companies have a waiting period of 48 hours from the time you sign up for accident coverage, and up to a month for illness coverage.
Pet insurance is a great thing, and we cannot recommend it enough. I have seen firsthand how much easier it is on the owner when they come in with a severely ill pet, or a pet who has had something awful happen to like being hit by a car, and they have pet insurance. They don’t have to worry about affording emergency surgery, or days in intensive care at overnight clinics. The pet can immediately get treatment and start to feel better, and the owner doesn’t have to worry about anything other than the pet itself. If you have questions about pet insurance, want to learn more, or want to hear firsthand stories about how pet insurance has helped our staff, please touch base with us today!
Written by Mikaila Cariou, RVT