Thursday, October 30, 2014
Health Insurance for Your Pet
Last week my 10 and 1/2 year old kitty, Abbey, started breathing abnormally and I knew something was very wrong, it was late at night, my vet's office was closed, so I grabbed my phone and started video taping her so that I could show my vet the next morning what was going on. Once we got to the vet's office he told me that it looked like she had pleural effusion- a build up of fluid in her chest cavity which could be a sign of heart disease. We did some imaging of her at his office, did some blood work, and the next day I took her to a specialist to do an Echocardiogram ( a test that uses sound waves to create images of the heart,) and in less than 24 hours I had spent $1,000 simply trying to figure out what was wrong with her. Don't get me wrong, she's worth every penny and I will continue to work on treating her but this brought up the thought I just recently had about Pet Insurance. I have lots of pets and do not have any form of pet insurance but have often been curious about it to see if it would benefit me or my customers in any way. Since I have had pets all my life I, unfortunately, have also lost them over time and have spent quite a large amount of money giving them the best care possible before it's time to say goodbye. For those of you who have only a few pets I think pet insurance is something you may want to consider. In doing my research I have discovered that there are tons of companies out there and very specific things that you should look for before purchasing a plan to be sure it is the right one for you. Here are a few things that I have discovered, hopefully they will help you when shopping for a plan:
There are two types of pet insurance plans available out there- Lifetime and Non-lifetime. A lifetime plan is exactly what it sounds like, a plan to cover your pet over the course of its life. A non-lifetime plan is on an annual basis that needs to be renewed, the catch with them is that if your pet has had a health issue in the previous year they may not cover it in the future when you renew your plan, think of it as a pre-existing condition, it can be excluded from any future payouts.
When shopping for a plan always be sure that they cover your breed, and if they do, see if they charge extra for one particular breed over the other. Some plans also have age limits, they may not allow a puppy to be covered until it is 8 weeks old and then they may also terminate coverage after a certain age to avoid the costs of elder care.
If you have multiple pets ask if they offer a multiple pet discount, it doesn't hurt to ask. Also see if they have a free trial period or a money back trail period if you are unhappy with what you get.
Most, if not all, plans will have some sort of deductible. Make sure you are clear about whether it is a straight forward deductible or if it is a per incident deductible. I noticed that one plan I was looking at had a $100 per incident deductible so if your pet has multiple different things wrong at the same time they may count those as individual incidents and you may have to pay $100 for each one to be taken care of.
See if the plan you are looking at has a cap on the amount of coverage. Some plans will only pay out so much and then you have to pick up the rest while other plans do not have limitation on spending. Also see if the plan excludes coverage for genetic or hereditary issues. If you own a breed that is known for something like hip dysplasia and the plan doesn't cover that then it may not be the right one for you. Plans also do not cover pre-existing conditions so if my kitty Abbey is diagnosed with heart disease I can't call up and insure her tomorrow and expect them to cover the cost of her care for that.
Check to see if the plan you are considering is one that just covers accidents or illnesses or if it also covers routine care like vet exams, vaccines, dental care, etc. Some plans that only cover accidents or illnesses also offer routine care coverage but it's an extra expense.
Finally see how you submit a claim and how the company handles payment. Some companies I looked at require you to pay the vet out of pocket and then you have to file a claim and wait for them to reimburse you. I would check to see if some allow the vet to directly bill them, and if they don't and you have to pay up front, see what the average wait time is until you get a check back from them.
There are a lot of companies out there with a wide variety of options to choose from. One website that I really liked is: www.petinsurancereviews.com
It gives real reviews and ratings from actual customers on a ton of different plans. It also has links to pet insurance websites so you can take a look at what everyone has to offer. I also found a website called: www.topconsumerreviews.com/pet-insurance
which also gives reviews of the top rated pet insurance companies. Do your research to see what options are out there and also read the customer reviews to see how they feel about the plans.
Here are links to what seemed to be the most popular pet insurance providers:
24 Pet Watch- www.24petwatch.com
Healthy Paws- www.healthypawspetinsurance.com
Pet First- www.petfirst.com
Pet Plan- www.gopetplan.com
Pet Premium- www.petpremium.com
Pets Best- www.petsbest.com
If you love your pets like I do then they are family and having an insurance plan can really help out in a time of need.