Pet insurance is similar to health insurance. When you get a policy for your pet, you pay premiums and deductibles. When your pet receives a treatment covered by the policy, you must pay the bill and submit a claim to be reimbursed for the cost.
Pet insurance does not cover pre-existing conditions and usually has a waiting period before benefits begin, so do not wait until your pet is ill to purchase pet insurance.
Determine Need for Pet Insurance
You may need pet insurance for your pet if you are concerned about paying large, unexpected vet bills. You can't predict whether your pet will be diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, such as cancer or heart disease, or be injured. Pet insurance allows you to get the best treatment possible for your pet without worrying about cost. If you have enough money saved to cover treatment in the worst possible scenario, you may opt not to get pet insurance.
Types of Coverage
Decide what type of coverage you want for your pet. Some policies may only cover accidents while others cover illnesses. A comprehensive policy will cover both. Check to see if the policy covers cancer, hereditary diseases and heart, kidney or liver disease. Determine what illness coverage you need by researching common health concerns for your pet's breed.
Some plans may include wellness coverage. In other cases, you might have the option to add this coverage for an additional fee.
Requirements and Exclusions
Check the policy for any exclusions, or conditions that aren't covered. For example, some policies do not offer coverage for hip dysplasia. In addition, some policies will not continue to insure your pet or pay claims if you don't meet certain requirements such as annual exams or follow a recommended vaccination schedule.
Evaluate Costs and Benefits
If you cannot afford the monthly premium for pet insurance, do not purchase it. Check the maximum payout amounts on the policy and note whether these are lifetime limits or annual limits. If the maximum payout won't cover complete treatment when your pet is seriously ill or injured, it may not be the best policy for you.
Evaluate additional coverage, such as wellness programs to determine if the added cost to your premium justifies the coverage. Depending on the fees your vet charges for routine exams and vaccinations, it may be less expensive to pay for these visits out of pocket.
Ask the company if they raise premiums and how they decide to increase costs.
Before purchasing you selected policy, research the company to ensure they are reputable and pay claims. Research the insurance company using sites like the Better Business Bureau, your state's Department of Insurance or the Pet Insurance Review.