Your pet is a member of your family, so of course, you want to do what’s best for them. Unfortunately, the price of vet care can add up over the years, and even a single accident or injury can lead to costly bills. There is, however, a way to protect yourself from the financial risks that come with pet ownership. Pet insurance, sometimes known as pet health insurance, can be a wise buy for the owners of furry companions. And the earlier you buy pet insurance, the less you’ll pay.
Why You Should Buy Pet Insurance Early
The best time to buy pet insurance, from a cost perspective, is when your pet is young. There are a few reasons for this.
First, insurance companies assign premiums based on risk. When your pet is young and healthy, your premiums are likely to be lower because your pet is at a lower risk for disease and injuries. If you were to wait to seek pet insurance until your pet is older, they may develop some underlying medical conditions that make them riskier to insure, leading to higher premiums. For example, it will cost less to insure a healthy, 8-month-old puppy than an 8-year-old dog with early arthritis.
Buying pet insurance early also gives you the most protection. You might think your pet is healthy and impervious to disease, but that could change at any time. Your dog could become injured while playing in the yard, or they could develop diabetes. The longer you wait to insure your pet, the greater the chances of them developing a costly medical condition in the meantime.
Some pet insurance companies will not cover pre-existing conditions. Others will enroll these pets, but they’ll exclude care related to the pre-existing condition. So, if you enroll your pet early when they have no known health conditions, you will have more insurance companies to choose from, and your coverage will also go further.
What Pet Insurance Covers
Most pet health insurance policies pay for vet care related to injuries and illnesses. However, some policies also cover routine veterinary care, such as annual exams and vaccines. It’s important to talk to an insurance broker about the type of coverage you want, and what’s most worth paying for. You will pay more for a policy that covers routine care, of course, but if you’re in an area where veterinary costs are high, this coverage may be worthwhile.
What Vets Accept Pet Insurance?
Pet insurance is different from human health insurance in that you don’t need to seek care from vets who accept your insurance policy. You can take your pet to any vet you prefer. You’ll pay for their services out-of-pocket, and then you’ll file a claim form with your insurance company. Shortly after, you’ll be reimbursed for your expenses, minus any deductible.
This setup makes pet insurance very convenient for pet owners. If your ordinary vet is not available, you never have to worry whether your insurance will cover care from a different vet. If you travel with your pet, you have the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’ll be covered if they become ill while away. And if you ever want to switch veterinarians, you can do so without consulting your pet insurance company beforehand.
Deductibles and Reimbursement Rates
As you shop around for insurance for your new pet, it’s helpful to know the meaning of a few terms often used in the industry. The first of these is “deductible.” As with any type of insurance, the deductible is the amount you pay, out of pocket, before your insurance kicks in to pay for a claim. With pet insurance, you often have the choice between policies with low monthly premiums and higher deductibles, and those with higher monthly premiums and lower deductibles.
If you think your pet may see the vet several times throughout the year, then it’s often wise to choose a plan with a lower per-incident deductible, but higher monthly premiums. On the other hand, if you think your pet will only see the vet once or twice, it may be worth choosing a lower-premium plan and paying a higher deductible on your rare vet visits.
You should also consider the reimbursement rate when selecting a pet health insurance plan. A reimbursement rate is the percentage of eligible expenses the plan covers. For instance, if you purchase a policy with a 90% reimbursement rate, your plan will pay for 90% of eligible costs submitted in your claim, after your deductible.
Here’s an example. Suppose you have a plan with a $100 deductible and a 90% reimbursement rate. You submit a bill for $1000. Your insurance plan takes out the $100 deductible, leaving you at $900. Then, they calculate 90% of $900, which is $810. With this plan, insurance would cover $810 of your $1000 vet bill, and you’d pay $190. This is a perfect illustration of why pet insurance is so helpful. It’s a lot easier to face a $190 emergency vet bill than a $1000 bill.
Choosing Pet Insurance
As you consider plans to insure your new pet, there are a few key things to look for in a plan. First, you want to make sure the insurance company presents your deductible and reimbursement rate up-front, so there are no surprises when you do need to file a claim. Second, you want to check whether the plan covers preventative care and well checkups. If it does not, can you add a rider to provide this coverage?
For your peace of mind, it’s often best to work with an insurance broker who offers personalized, in-person services. When your pet is ill or injured, it’s refreshing to be able to talk to your insurance agent on the phone directly and have your questions answered promptly.
Don’t wait to buy pet insurance for your newest furry family member. The sooner you purchase coverage, the lower your monthly premiums will be. If you’re looking for a friendly, customized insurance experience in Florida, contact Flagler County Insurance. We can help you find the perfect pet insurance plan along with great customer service and the option to bundle.