You may have heard the term “pet insurance” being bandied about more and more these days but what exactly is pet insurance and is it something that you should be considering getting? Here’s everything that you need to know.
Pet insurance is most simply defined as “health insurance for pets”. That is, if your pet gets into an accident or falls ill, you can claim all or part of the vet costs on your insurance plan, so that not as much money comes out of your own pocket. Pet insurance premiums are paid monthly or yearly as you desire and the small cost that you incur can save you from struggling to pay vet bills that can quickly reach into the thousands, depending on the severity of the problem. In many cases, pet insurance can save you from having to put your pet down due to a lack of funds to pay the vet bills.
Pet insurance, just like the human equivalent, will cover different things, depending on the level of cover that you decide to take out. There are four main types of pet insurance cover – accident, illness, comprehensive, and comprehensive plus. Accident insurance will only cover your pet if they get into an accident of some kind, while illness insurance will only cover your pet if they fall sick. Comprehensive pet insurance will cover both accidents and illnesses, while comprehensive plus will cover all of this and give you further rebates and benefits if you vaccinate, worm, and flea your pets regularly.
Don’t forget to check out the rebates and sub limits that are included as part of your pet insurance cover. Many pet insurance providers will pay a maximum of 80 percent of the vet bill, so you pay for the other 20 percent yourself. Some providers will pay half of the bill and you will be required to pay the other half. Other insurers will pay 100 percent of the bill, though be mindful that you may need to pay a higher premium for this. It's also worth bearing in mind that some insurers will reduce the cover when your pet enters old age. As with anything, it's worth contacting a few providers to compare coverage options and choose the one that best suits your needs and budget.
A sub limit is how much the insurance provider will pay out for a certain thing. For example, they may only cover $100 worth of x-rays or medication each year. This is fine if your pet isn’t on regular medication or doesn’t need very many x-rays but if you are paying out several hundred dollars on these things, you will want a policy with a higher sub limit, to reduce the amount that you are paying out of your own pocket.
Most pet insurance policies will have some kind of exclusions. For example, they may not cover your pet for a pre existing condition or for tick paralysis if you are known to live in a tick prone area. The age of your pet will also affect the coverage that you can get.
If you have decided that pet insurance would be beneficial to you, there are some steps to take to ensure that you have the right pet insurance for you. The first is to check out what type of cover that you need exactly. Once you have done this, you can look at the inclusions and exclusions more carefully and determine if they meet your needs. It is a good idea to assess your pet carefully when doing this. For example, if you have an accident prone pet, it might be an excellent idea to get pet insurance that covers accidents right from an early age. If your pet is generally healthy, you might prefer just to get peace of mind insurance that will cover you if your pet falls sick unexpectedly. Don’t forget to look at how old your pet is too. Generally speaking, the younger you insure your pet the better. You will find that pets over a certain age (generally 8) will be very difficult to cover, if you can find a provider that is willing to cover them at all.
Another important factor that you should look at is the cost of the insurance. Is it a monthly premium or can you pay yearly for a slight discount? Will you get special rates if you have more than one pet with the same insurer? You also need to find out if the premium is all that you need to pay or if you will be required to pay an excess if your pet does go to the vet. An excess is the additional amount that you pay upon a vet visit in order to use the insurance coverage but it generally makes your premiums cheaper. Make sure you know how much the excess is! Another factor that you have to look at when comparing the costs of pet insurance is if your premiums will increase when you make a claim, and if they do, how much by.
The final thing that you will have to look at is who you will get pet insurance through. You have two main choices – through a specialist pet insurance provider, or through one of the major insurance companies.