If you have recently adopted a pet, it’s only natural that you want to keep your new family member safe, happy and healthy. But do you have the thousands of dollars required to get your pet the needed care if they become seriously ill? 

How Pet Insurance Works

Pet insurance is administered much like human health insurance plans. You pay premiums to maintain coverage. There are deductibles and co-pays, and most policies limit the amount the insurance company will pay. Payments take two forms: a direct payment to the veterinarian or a reimbursement to you for qualifying claims. The benefit of the “reimbursement” option is you can choose the veterinarian who will treat your pet. 

Even though most pets are covered, some pure breeds or animals prone to hereditary health issues may not be insurable. Pets with pre-existing conditions may also be excluded from coverage. 

Provider and Coverage Options 

Pet insurance has become popular; thus, there are a variety of pet insurance providers to consider. Check out these lists of the Top 10 best pet insurance companies: https://www.consumersadvocate.org/pet-insurance/ or https://www.top10petinsurancereviews.com/. The lineup is different for each, but the information provided is helpful. And if you’re a member of USAA, they also offer pet insurance!

Selecting the right insurance for your pet can be as confusing as choosing a personal health policy. Therefore, it’s important to carefully review the plan options from several insurers to pick the best coverage for your pet. Some of the common plans include:

  • Pet Wellness Plan – Typically covers routine exams and treatments, including vaccinations, flea, and heartworm prevention.
  • Accident Only – Pays benefits if your pet is injured due to an accident. This policy will not reimburse you for the cost of care related to illness.
  • Basic Coverage – Helps pay for care and treatment related to an injury or health issue, including cancer. These policies provide lower reimbursement and often place a cap on the amount paid per accident or illness. 
  • Comprehensive Coverage – Helps pay for almost any type of care or treatment your pet may need. The insurance company will reimburse you for costs stemming from allergies, illness, accidental injuries, and emergencies, including office visits, prescriptions, and x-rays.
  • Time-Limited Policy – Covers treatments up to a specified dollar amount and a specified term for reimbursement (e. g., $2,000 or 12 months). Once one of these parameters is met, the policy stops further payments.
  • Maximum-Benefit Policy – Covers treatments up to a specified dollar amount but for an unlimited term.

Cost of Pet Insurance

The cost of pet insurance policies will vary based on the benefits provided—the more extensive the coverage, the more costly the policy. In addition, your pet’s breed, age, and health will also impact the price. Depending on these factors, the monthly premium could range between $10 and $100+.  

Pet insurance will rarely cover every health issue your pet might encounter. And remember that in addition to the premium, you are also liable for deductibles and co-pays, as well as expenses exceeding the policy’s limits.

Best Time to Buy 

To avoid exclusions for pre-existing conditions, it’s best to buy pet insurance when you bring your new little friend home. The longer you wait, the more expensive the coverage will become. 

If you still need to insure your pet, don’t wait! It’s best to apply for coverage before the weather gets warm. Pets spend more time outdoors and are exposed to various potential dangers that increase their chances for illness or injury – plants, heat, other animals, bikes/vehicles.

Summary

Our pets are family. It’s best to be prepared to get them the best care should they become ill or seriously injured. Pet insurance is a great way to do so without breaking the bank. When shopping for coverage, consider how much you can afford to spend on your pet’s potential medical needs, then look for a policy that will pick up the remaining expense – or the best policy that works with your budget. It may save you from making a tough decision in the future.

Kathy Hower, CFP®, is a Senior Wealth Advisor with Bedel Financial Consulting, Inc., a wealth management firm located in Indianapolis. For more information, visit their website at www.bedelfinancial.com or email Kathy at khower@bedelfinancial.com

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