Pet Health Insurance Options Continue to Improve
Years ago there were few companies that provided pet health insurance and the coverage offered was limited. Thanks to the booming pet industry, there are now several companies that provide different types of affordable coverage. As more people purchase pet insurance, the insurance pool grows, which in turn makes it more affordable. As the veterinarian community continues to make medical advances and the treatment options increase, it is easy to incur thousands of dollars in veterinarian bills for relatively simple problems.
We purchased insurance for Xuma through Healthy Paws Pet Insurance for $39 a month. We chose Healthy Paws because they were recommended by a friend, they provide coverage for her lifetime, and we were able to sign her up for coverage even though she is eight years old. The coverage kicks in when we need it most — when there is an injury or illness. Healthy Paws does not cover annual exams, vaccines, dental cleanings, spay and neuter, parasite control, training, behavior modification, medication, and preexisting conditions. Healthy Paws is intended for the unexpected illnesses or accident, such as the chocolate cookies stolen from the kitchen counter, the bee sting, and the neighbor’s cat who skillfully demonstrates who really is the boss. Before purchasing insurance I discussed it with my veterinarian and he agreed that the best coverage for most of his patients is for injuries and illness.
When you shop for pet insurance keep these things in mind:
- What is required to sign up? Healthy Paws required a complete exam within 15 days of signing up. There was also a 15 day waiting period for the insurance to go into effect. Some companies may require proof of vaccinations.
- What is covered and what is excluded? Some companies exclude hereditary conditions such as hip dysplasia so common in German Shepherds, or disc ruptures common in Dachshunds. In the alternative, they may cover those hereditary conditions, but cap the amount they will cover. Read the exclusions carefully and if you have questions, call the company for clarification.
- Do you want coverage for preventative treatments? If you like the idea of spreading the cost of preventative care, vaccines, teeth cleanings over monthly premium payments, please do the math first. The premium should be less than what you would spend for this care, which will depend greatly on the age, size of your pet, and for cats, whether the cat is an indoor cat.
- Does the policy continue for the pet’s entire life? Some policies will only cover the pet to a certain age.
- Do the premiums go up as the pet gets older? Our monthly premium for Xuma was more than it would have been had we signed her up at a younger age. However, the premium will not change during her lifetime.
- Is there a deductible? How much is the deductible and is it an annual or lifetime deduction?
- How do you submit a claim? Healthy Paws is environmentally friendly by being paperless – they have an App to submit claims.
- Does the insurance company reimburse you after the treatment, or does the veterinarian bill the insurance company? Consider if it would be difficult to come up with the funds while waiting to be reimbursed.
- Does the insurance company have an insurance rating? Just like life insurance, the health insurance companies are rated.
The following are links to additional pet insurance information and very helpful comparisons of the different companies and policies: Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, ASPCA, and Pet Health Insurance Reviews.
So often I have heard people say they could not afford medical treatment for a pet, so I highly recommend considering pet insurance. Since there are more options available, there may be just the right fit for you.