Pet medical insurance is a relatively new concept. The first pet insurance policy was issued in 1982, but most pet owners are either unaware or have the least knowledge about pet medical insurance.
This article will take a long look at pet medical insurance, its coverage, types, and benefits.
What Is Pet Medical Insurance?
Pet medical insurance is a type of health insurance policy meant for pet animals and pays the cost of medical expenses and other costs at times. Pet medical insurance plans are usually based on reimbursement.
This means you pay up-front for the veterinarian’s bill and submit a claim to the insurance company. A few insurance companies may offer to pay the vet directly, which is an excellent way to keep out-of-pocket expenses low.
However, there is usually an annual deductible you need to fulfill before your pet coverage starts. For instance, you may have to pay around US$ 50 in vet bills before the insurance company begins to pay coverage.
Additionally, even after the deductible is met, the pet insurance may only cover part of the bill amount. Usually, pet insurance companies let you choose your reimbursement level, which is commonly around 70%, 80%, or 90% of the vet’s total bill.
What Does Pet Medical Insurance Cover?
The extent of any pet medical insurance policy coverage will depend on the type of plan you choose. Pet medical insurance plans are usually available in 3 types:
- Accident-only plans
- Accident-and-illness plans
- Wellness plans for routine requirements
Accident and wellness plans are the most common type of pet medical insurance, while wellness plans are usually offered as an add-on. Accident-and-illness plans usually cover injuries and illnesses, including fractured bones, cancer, genetic and congenital conditions, and much more.
Accident-only insurance plans cover accident-related expenses, such as fixing broken bones. You can also include a routine wellness plan in most pet medical insurance policies. This way, you can offset the cost of annual pet wellness visits, heartworm treatment, vaccinations, etc.
Pet medical insurance plans may not always cover pre-existing conditions. So, if your pet suffers from any health or medical condition before the medical insurance policy comes into effect, it will not be covered under the plan.
What Does Pet Medial Insurance Not Cover?
Some of the most common issues that most pet medical insurance providers do not offer coverage for are:
- Pre-existing health conditions – If a pet is diagnosed with, or shows signs of, an illness or injury before the insurance cover comes into effect, then the insurance will not cover its treatment cost. However, some insurance providers provide coverage for what is considered “curable” pet pre-existing conditions.
- Preventive or Elective procedures – Pet medical insurance plans typically do not cover the cost of preventive or elective veterinarian treatments, such as ear cropping, nail trimming, tail docking, etc.
- Examination fees – Some pet medical insurance providers do not include examination fees under the coverage.
- Grooming – Pet medical insurance does not cover the cost of pet grooming.
- Breeding expenses – Pet insurance plans do not cover costs related to breeding.
- Non-vet expenses – This includes the cost of taxes or administrative fees charged by a veterinarian.
- Foods and supplements – Pet medical insurance does not cover the cost of regular pet food, but some plans cover prescription pet food costs.
Pet owners need to understand that some insurance policies do not extend coverage if the pet owner maintains a level of recommended care from the veterinarian.
How to Find the Best Pet Medical Insurance in 2023?
No single pet medical insurance plan is suitable for all. The extent of coverage, exclusions and pricing variations tend to make it difficult to evaluate or compare each plan. However, there are some things you can do to ensure that you buy the best pet medical insurance in 2023.
The first step to finding ideal medical insurance for your pet is choosing the most suitable insurance policy. Some pet medical insurance plans have extensive coverage and add-ons, while some help lower treatment costs, such as accident-only plans. You may even want a pet medical insurance plan that balances the two.
Comprehensive pet insurance plans with extensive coverage are obviously more expensive, but they might work well, considering their vast coverage.
The second step to finding the best-suited pet medical insurance in 2023 is determining the annual maximum, deductible and reimbursement level according to your pet’s specific needs.
When it comes to annual maximum coverage, you normally choose an annual maximum payout level. This is the limit on how much the pet insurance plan will pay yearly. Most pet medical insurance plans offer around US$ 5,000 to unlimited payout.
If you choose an unlimited payout plan, this will raise the cost of monthly premiums but removes the worry about exceeding the annual maximum limit in case your pet needs expensive veterinarian treatment.
Additionally, the deductible is another important factor in selecting the best-suited pet medical insurance. You can lower the monthly pet insurance bill by choosing a higher deductible. Normal deductible rates are between US$ 100, US$ 200, and US$ 500. Once you meet the deductible, you can submit the vet bills to the insurance company and claim reimbursement for the cost of treatment.
Besides this, the reimbursement percentage is another important factor to consider when buying pet medical insurance. Remember, the lower the reimbursement level, the less you will have to pay pet insurance premiums. The most common choices of reimbursement levels are 70%, 80%, and 90%.
Last but not least, you should also check the insurance waiting periods. This is the time between buying the policy and the policy coming into effect (beginning of coverage).
If you buy pet medical insurance, you will normally have a fixed deductible amount. You will need to pay the veterinarian out-of-pocket and then submit the vet bills to the insurance provider for reimbursement. The insurance company will pay the reimbursement until it has reached the maximum benefit level allowed under the particular pet medical insurance plan.