Deciding to sign your pet up for pet insurance is an important decision—for both you and your pet. However, if this is your first time enrolling your cat or dog in a pet insurance plan, the process may initially seem a bit overwhelming
To help you make an easier and less stressful decision, read through this step-by-step guide—from research and enrollment to usage.
Beginner’s Guide to Pet Insurance
Before you sign up for any type of insurance, whether that be auto, home, or even boat, it’s essential to research which option will best fit your budget and needs. The same is true for pet insurance. Not every insurance company or plan is the same, and pets often have different healthcare needs.
By better understanding each step of the insurance process and what the various terms mean, it’ll be easier for you to select a pet insurance plan.
If you’re wondering where to begin, competitor comparison is a wonderful place to start. One of the best ways to ensure that you receive quality pet insurance is to look into all of your options. Read company reviews online, ask your friends and family which pet insurance company they are enrolled with, and look into each company’s history.
You can also investigate the company’s online presence—do they have a user-friendly website, and are they on social media? Another crucial characteristic of a helpful and trustworthy pet insurance company is if it’s easy to find their contact information. You shouldn’t feel as though you are jumping through hoops just to get ahold of someone or find answers to your questions.
Perusing around on a company’s site is a great way to get some of your questions answered. Many companies try to be proactive with their customer service and provide an ‘FAQ’ section on their site—saving you the time of contacting someone.
Of course, one of the more essential items to consider when researching are the plans offered.
- Extensive. Anything from accidents, illnesses, chronic conditions, and even routine checkups can be covered.
- Accident and illness. Accidents covered can include cuts and illnesses such as genetic conditions.
- Accident-only: Accidents can still include a broad range of issues such as broken bones or accidental ingestion of toxic substances.
- Wellness plans/preventive care. This is typically an add-on option that some providers offer for an additional cost and can help cover the costs related to preventive care, such as vaccinations and regular examinations.
When considering which plan to choose, be realistic about your pet’s health and lifestyle.
Along with looking at plan options and their prices, you will also want to look at the customization options. These can include your premium (how much you pay for your insurance policy), annual limit (the total amount you can get reimbursed during one year), deductible (the amount you need to meet before getting reimbursed), and reimbursement percentage (how much the insurance company will pay you).
Be sure to check if your insurer offers an annual or per-incident deductible. With an annual option, you will only need to meet it once a year, but with a per incident, you have to meet your deductible multiple times throughout the year, based on when your pet has health issues.
Although you can customize your policy to have a lower premium, keep in mind that you don’t accidentally want to have a plan that won’t cover most costs. You will also want to look at any exclusions a provider has for their policies—a major one is pre-existing conditions.
Before you officially sign up for a plan, don’t hesitate to reach out to the insurance provider you are considering. They can answer any additional questions you may have. Some companies also allow you to get a free quote for your pet before you sign up, providing transparency on how much insurance will cost.
Although your monthly cost can be customized through your chosen plan, your pet’s breed and age can also affect your price, as can your ZIP code and where you decide to get your pet treated.
When you are in the process of enrolling for a specific plan, most insurance companies will require your pet’s health records and a recent, thorough physical examination of your pet. Insurance companies will use this information to determine any pre-existing conditions and the cost of your coverage. Though not a typical situation, insurance companies can deny your pet, depending on what these medical documents reveal.
After this part of the process, whenever you are enrolled in a plan, most providers have a small window between signing up and when you can submit your first claim. This is generally referred to as a waiting period. It is in place to ensure that individuals are not signing up for insurance plans only because their pet is already sick.
How to Make a Pet Insurance Claim
Once enrolled in your insurance plan and your waiting period is over, you can begin filing claims. After visiting a veterinarian, emergency clinic, or specialist, you can submit your claim to your insurance provider. You can typically do this through an app, online, mail, or even fax—the specifics will vary by company
Many companies have a user-friendly and step-by-step guide on how to submit a claim. For instance, with the My Pet Insurance app, all you have to do is select ‘Claims,’ include a brief description of what happened and a photo of your invoice. With the app, you can additionally stay updated with the status of your claim.
There are a few ways the claim and reimbursement process can be handled. After your veterinary visit, the most common procedure is that you immediately pay the bill and then fill out and submit your pet insurance claim. Your insurer can reimburse you once your claim is approved, typically via direct deposit or check.
Some insurance providers are able to pay the veterinarians directly after a claim is approved. This method doesn’t require pet parents to wait for a reimbursement, but it may be worth double-checking that your veterinarian accepts this type of payment.
Pet Insurance: End of Life How-To
There’s no doubt that one of the most difficult parts of being a pet parent is watching your best pal continue to age and, one day, having to say goodbye. While some pets may pass away due to natural causes, others may reach a point where euthanasia becomes the most compassionate option.
Depending on your insurance plan, you can file a pet insurance claim for death and may have some of the cost of euthanasia covered. However, many insurance companies will only help pay for these costs if a veterinarian deems euthanasia medically necessary.
Benefits of Pet Insurance
Even after plenty of research and learning about the cost of pet insurance, pet parents often can’t help but wonder, “Is pet insurance worth it?” The answer to this question can vary from one pet parent to another, but there is a lot to gain from enrolling your pet in a plan.
One of the many wonderful benefits of covering your pet is that you won’t find yourself having to choose between the best treatment for your pal and the treatment cost. Of course, most pet parents will do anything to provide the best care for their best buds. Unfortunately, accidents and unforeseen health issues are a part of a pet’s life—and they can often be costly.
Without pet insurance, pet parents will have to use their ‘pet savings account’ or their own if they don’t have money set aside expressly for their cat or dog. Though this can be a decent system for some incidents, if something occurs and the bill ends up being more expensive than you thought, just one veterinary visit could use up most, if not all, of the money you had set aside.
With pet insurance, you can feel more at ease that you will have financial assistance covering your veterinary costs.
Unlike human health insurance, which requires you to find in-network doctors, you can visit any licensed veterinarian, including specialists and emergency animal hospitals, with pet insurance.
An additional benefit of pet insurance is that you can enroll your senior cat or your puppy that’s only a few months old—any age can benefit. With that said, it’s typically encouraged that you consider signing your pet up soon after bringing them home. Puppies and kittens are adventurous (maybe more like mischievous), and you never know what they may get into. Plus, by enrolling your pet at a younger age, you can better avoid pre-existing issues.