Your fur babies are a big part of your family. You love them; they’re among your favorite friends, and they’re always there for you. You give them love, a home, and take the very best possible care of them.
And, much like when a member of your family is sick, you worry about them when they’re not feeling well. Sometimes it’s a tummy ache because your pooch has a few too many treats, but sometimes it’s a lot more serious.
Unfortunately, healthcare is expensive – for pets and humans.
As a result, thousands of pet owners have to make the heart-wrenching decision to have their pets put down. It’s not an easy decision to make, but what do you do if you can’t afford to pay the vet?
That’s where pet insurance comes into play.
It’s like a medical plan for your pet. When you’re worrying about why your pet is ill, you don’t also want to worry about whether or not you can afford treatment for them. With pet insurance, your monetary concerns are taken care of.
Below, we’ll look more closely at what pet insurance is and how it works. We’ll also go through a few of the best insurers in this field.
What Does Pet Insurance Cover?
Just like health insurance for humans, pet insurance can cover a wide range of health-related issues ranging from accidents to illnesses. What’s covered will primarily depend on which type of policy you purchase.
Before you sign anything, you need to know what kind of coverage you’re going to need. You have three basic options:
- Comprehensive Care
- Accident Coverage
- Wellness Coverage
Types of Pet Insurance
Each type of insurance above offers varying levels of coverage for your pet. Let’s take a more in-depth look at each of them to decide which one is best for you.
Comprehensive care is the best out of the lot as it covers the most pet-related medical expenses. It will cover illness, injuries caused by accident, and often some wellness care as well. If you want your pet to have access to the best, this is the best option.
It’s also the priciest option, so make sure you can afford the premiums before signing up. That said, these plans may include less conventional options like physical therapy for dogs.
This coverage is a good idea for pets that may develop problems as they age. Schnauzers, for example, are prone to problems with their pancreas. Larger dogs are prone to develop dysplasia.
This option will usually cover your pet’s visit to the vet, any stays in hospital, and medication that they might need. Our advice is that you find out exactly what the exclusions are so you don’t get caught short when you need to claim.
Comprehensive coverage does not necessarily cover every situation. There might be exclusions based on pre-existing conditions.
The companies may also opt to restrict coverage in certain situations. It’s important to know what those situations are.
If your budget won’t stretch to comprehensive coverage, an accident-only plan offers a good alternative.
The key here is that you’re only covered for emergencies.
So, maybe your dog got bitten by a snake, attacked by another dog, or has eaten something they shouldn’t have.
These plans do not cover you for non-emergency situations or illnesses, so if your dog has cancer, you’ll have to pay for the treatment.
Wellness coverage is going to ensure that you have a healthy dog, but it’s not going to be cheap. This coverage doesn’t include illness or accidents but will cover things like vaccines and annual checkups.
Personally, we’re on the fence about this one. Nine times out of ten, it probably won’t be necessary as a stand-alone product.
You know when your dog is due for his vaccinations or checkups, so you can plan and save accordingly.
We’d consider wellness coverage as an add-on to another plan, as long as it doesn’t push up the premiums too much.
How Does it Work?
That’s going to depend on the company itself, but pet insurance works like human medical insurance in many respects.
Your dog’s age, pre-existing conditions, and breed will all be factored in when determining whether or not your application will be processed.
You’ll need to take your pet to the vet. With most insurers, you’ll have to pay out of pocket for those appointments and then ask to be reimbursed afterward.
The amount of coverage you get depends on the plan that you choose. Some plans impose limits on the benefits you can claim. This makes plans more affordable, but be careful not to select limits that are too low. Vet costs can add up fast.
It’s also important to understand what the sub-limits are and what your overall limit is. You might think, for example, that $50,000 per year is more than you’ll need.
You could very well be right, but sub-limits may effectively reduce that coverage. Say, for example, that your dog’s dentistry care is limited to $500 per year. That’s not likely to get you very far.
It is also worth noting that some policies impose a certain limit per household. So, if you have five dogs that are covered, and all of them need medical care at the same time, this might be problematic. You might also have a limit imposed per incident.
Another area where limits could be problematic is when it comes to lifetime limits. Most companies will provide coverage for your pet over its lifetime.
If they impose an overall lifetime limit, you could get into a situation where you’ve exhausted your pet’s coverage.
Do You Pay a Deductible?
You might also be required to pay a deductible, which could be to your advantage as it could help reduce your premiums.
Deductibles are put in place to prevent people from making frivolous claims. The higher the deductible, the lower the risk for the company.
That said, you’ll need to be able to lay your hands on the money as fast as possible if an emergency strikes. Make sure that the deductible is affordable for you.
With all of these factors in mind, let’s take a look at some of the top pet insurance companies to see what they have to offer.
Best Pet Insurance Companies
This is not an exhaustive list of all pet insurers, but it will give you an excellent place to start.
This is one of the more popular options as the company offers good value and excellent customer service.
The coverage is not subject to limits like it is with other companies. Filing claims is easily done through the company’s app.
Petplan is another of the leaders in the industry. They do offer full coverage and ways to customize your coverage.
The downside is that you’ll need to get a quote on their site. The customization of the coverage makes it difficult to nail down a generic price to put on the site.
What we like most about Petplan is that it doesn’t necessarily exclude pre-existing conditions.
Embrace is a company that has earned the Better Business Bureau’s A+ rating. What we like about this plan is that the payouts are fast, and they cover some unconventional treatments as well.
What we don’t like is that they cap the benefits you receive annually, with no options for unlimited coverage.
Nationwide is a household name in the United States and offers a few different options. You can choose between full, unlimited coverage, or plans that include caps. The latter is less expensive but not the best choice if your pet has a chronic condition.
What we like about this company is that they acknowledge that not all pets are furry ones. So, if you have a more exotic pet, like a parrot, they can be covered as well.
This company is perfect for tech geeks. You can use a cloud-based app to manage your pet’s records, account, file a claim, or upload documents.
It’s a relatively new company, but it does offer some pretty impressive benefits and the opportunity to skip paying a deductible.
PetFirst has been providing quality pet insurance for years. They have unlimited options, with rates varying by the level of the plan. The standard plans are on par with industry norms. The upper-range of plans, though, come in at higher than industry norms.
What we do like is that you get what amounts to a no-claims bonus if you don’t claim for a year. They also allow you discounts if you cover more than one of your pets.
Pets Best is unique in that they don’t impose age limits for coverage and all plans will pay for prescription meds. Their top-level plan offers limitless coverage. All the other plans have caps on how much can be paid out.
They are good at settling claims quickly and have a veterinary hotline. This is a great option if you’re not sure about whether to take your pet to the vet or not.
Our pets are an integral part of our family, and, like with any other family member, you want them to be able to get the right care when they need it.
Pet insurance offers an affordable way to give them the care they deserve.
If you do your homework upfront and partner with the right company, you’ll be able to keep your beloved pets around as long as possible.