Making a trip to the veterinary clinic can often times be stressful, not only for your pet, but for yourself as the owner. One of the most nerve-wracking parts can be the dreaded bill after everything has been said and done in the appointment. But there are definitely ways that can make you more confident when it comes to the financial aspect of the trip.
Pet Insurance exists for these reasons. But- should you buy pet insurance to cover your pet and your bank account? Unfortunately, like many things in life, there is no clear “yes” or “no” answer. Like all insurance, pet insurance, at even its most basic is a gamble. Some people are comfortable and can afford to wager their money in these cases, but some do it just so they are able to sleep at night. If you’re wondering if pet insurance is right for you, here is some information you should consider that can help you come to a conclusion.
Some breeds (Labs, Spaniels, Shepard’s, brachycephalic etc.) are genetically inclined to have health issues arise throughout their lives, so it is encouraged that people who have, or want these breeds should consider getting a pet plan. So before purchasing a specific breed opposed to a “mutt”, read about the breed or ask your veterinarian about what potential health expectations can be.
Another great place to start when it comes to pet insurance is looking at all the different companies you can choose from, and the next step would be to compare companies and what they offer. All companies have different levels and premiums so it is good to shop around to see which one might suit your needs for you and your wallet the best! They have different plans to try and meet all levels of income. When looking at information on each company, whether it be online or in a brochure, it is good to know their terminology. Some corporations have different definitions and terms and it’s good to know the language. Learning pet insurance lingo can help you read and understand their website better, and it so extremely critical that you read the fine print and policies extremely close, and most of all, READ REVIEWS! This is your money on the line, so you want to make sure that you’re getting the quality you and your pets deserve. Keep in mind that sometimes bad online reviews are from people who failed to completely understand what is covered and what is not, so- to avoid being that person, call and consult with someone from the companies because they are there to answer as many questions as you need to.
Ask about premiums. Premiums can vary on where you live, your pet’s age, the co-pay and deductible you select, your pets breed and species and the amount of medical coverage you select. Remember that pet insurance companies are businesses too, and they want to meet your needs but they also have to meet their own. One of their priorities is profit, so with that being said they CAN and may change your rates and terms to meet their priorities.
If you have decided that you are interested in pet insurance and have come upon a company that makes you feel confident, than you can investigate even further. Ask the business for a list of exclusions. Typically, you have to purchase a policy first to receive this information, and this will include sending away medical records to the company. Also not all insurance companies offer this option, but if they do, they will list exclusions you can expect based on your pets prior history and other exceptions. If you are not pleased with what they have listed, you can cancel the policy within the money back guarantee period. Also, ask them about waiting periods and when your coverage is activated and becomes “use-able” and keep in mind that some medical conditions may have different waiting times as well.
Last but not least, do NOT wait until your pet is sick to get pet insurance. If you wait, it will be considered a “pre-existing” condition and that is something that insurance companies do NOT cover. And because you do not know how long it can take to have your insurance activated to be used, your pet’s health can seriously decline in that amount of time.
If pet insurance is not for you, then you should still consider having an alternate way of being confident when it comes to paying the vet bill. Some people’s idea of “insurance” is simply putting money into a savings account and not touching it. With this alternative, if your pet has only minor or any health issues within its lifetime, than you still have the money left over afterwards whereas if you were putting your money towards pet insurance, you would not be able to receive a refund or have any access at all to the money you had put towards the insurance. The only problem with this source of security is that you might not have enough money saved up in time for an emergency which can set you back in unwanted debt.
Written by Brianne Stewart, ACA