Imagine this scenario: Your new puppy, who you brought home only last week, destroyed her fluffy bed, eating large chunks of the memory foam mattress. When she could not keep anything down, you realized she was not going to pass her bedding, and she needed emergency treatment for her vomiting. At the emergency veterinary hospital, they took X-rays, and confirmed that your pup’s bed had wadded in her stomach, and would likely not pass through her gastrointestinal tract. Without surgery to remove the foreign material, she would die. Faced with the choice of a costly surgery and hospitalization treatment plan, or euthanizing your new puppy, you struggled with the finances. The adoption fee and all the puppy essentials had already cost hundreds of dollars and depleted your pet-care fund, and you weren’t sure you could come up with the money for surgery.
With all unexpected expenses, it’s wonderful to have a back-up financial plan. In this case, pet health insurance is an excellent idea for every pet, whether accident and illness coverage only, or for comprehensive wellness care, as well. Insurance is not designed to save you money—it’s there to provide financial security and peace of mind in a crisis. For example, you likely can budget for your pet’s annual wellness visit and monthly parasite prevention, but emergency surgery, chronic disease, or a cancer diagnosis can be costly and deplete your funds, which is where pet insurance is beneficial. If your pet is covered by an insurance plan, you will never have to make the terrible choice between providing the best care available and euthanasia, because of financial limitations.
When you begin your search for the most appropriate insurance policy for your pet, you may be overwhelmed with choices. To help narrow down your options, ask yourself the following questions:
- How much coverage do I want? — Pet insurance policies offer a wide range of coverage, from plans covering only accidents and illness, to comprehensive wellness plans that include specialist care, emergency visits, holistic practitioners, and preventive care.
- Do I want to add preventive care to my pet’s policy? — While some pet owners prefer to budget for their pet’s annual preventive care costs, such as vaccinations and parasite preventives, others want them included in their insurance policy. Preventive care additions can also include dental care, since there’s an excellent chance your pet will need some form of professional dental care in her lifetime.
- What monthly premium can I afford? — Your monthly premium will vary, depending on your coverage and deductible, so investigate the options to find the best fit for your budget.
- How high a deductible can I handle? — A lower deductible will drive up your monthly premium, but can help if you don’t have the necessary funds to cover a high deductible. Research your options before choosing a plan, as some deductibles are per incident, while other plans limit the annual total.
- Does my pet have any pre-existing conditions that may be excluded? — Insurance providers are becoming more lenient with hereditary conditions, but no company covers pre-existing conditions. For example, your 1-year-old, water-loving Labrador cannot stay out of the lake during your summer vacation, and winds up with a double ear infection from the constant moisture. After paying for treatment, you look into pet insurance to cover future ear infections, but they are now considered a pre-existing condition, and will not be covered. To maximize pet insurance benefits, purchase a policy for your furry pal as soon as you bring her home.
- What reimbursement schedule works for me? — Some insurance companies will pay your veterinarian at the time of service, whether it’s an emergency, specialty hospital, or here at Holland Lake Animal Hospital. Also, some insurance providers have an app that allows you to submit a claim easily, and to get reimbursed more quickly.
- Which insurance company provides the best customer service? — As with any company, excellent customer service plays a big part in your relationship. If an insurance provider will not give you straight answers about coverage options and benefits, move on to another company. To help you in your search, check online reviews on customer service.
- Which insurance company offers discounts for bundled policies? — If you have a herd of kitties, look for an insurance provider that offers discounts for multiple pets. Many home and auto insurance providers, such as Nationwide, also offer pet insurance, and will grant you an additional discount if you already have a policy with them.
Choose an insurance policy when you first welcome your new pet home, to avoid having to make impossible decisions between life-saving care and a heartbreaking outcome. If you’re overwhelmed with choosing the best pet insurance option for your furry friend, contact us for advice.