How to Choose Pet Health Insurance

by Dr. Amna Plummer, Critter Care Animal Hospital

Wit the rising price of health care in both the human and animal sectors, the demand for health insurance is on the rise. Thankfully, pet health insurance is far less expensive than the human variety and it lacks the administrative complexity. Evaluating carriers is relatively straightforward, but the policies vary significantly in terms of coverage.

When evaluating pet insurers, consumers are advised to apply the same scrutiny that they would to any other insurance policy.

• Determine what the coverage is needed for. Would it be used for wellness and prevention, trauma or unforeseen expenses or a combination of both?

• Compare coverage to actual and probable needs given the animal’s breed and its associated health risks. For instance, Cocker Spaniels commonly have problems with their ears, eyes and skin. Ask if the policy covers these potential problems.

• Know what the coverage limits and more importantly, what it excludes. If your pet has been diagnosed with a pre-existing condition, it may be difficult to obtain a policy.

• Understand the costs. Each company has a slightly different cost structure in terms of co-payments, deductibles and lifetime caps.

• Find out if you are responsible for payment at the time of service or if the veterinarian is billed. Also ask what the typical turnaround time for reimbursements is. With most policies, you can expect a check within four to six weeks.

• Check with your veterinarian to make sure that they accept the insurance that you are interested in obtaining.

• The following are some of the pet insurance providers that I would personally recommend:

Pet Care Insurance is my first choice, but there are a limited number of clinics who accept it. Your only out of pocket expense is the deductible and the remaining costs are paid directly to the clinic by the insurance company.

ASPCA Pet Health Insurance offers reimbursement of 80% of your allowable veterinary expenses. ASPCA Pet Insurance website:

Pets Best Pet Health Insurance offers 80% of your eligible veterinary expenses after your deductible is met.

VPI Pet Insurance is the oldest and largest pet insurer. After a $50 per incident deductible, VPI reimburses up to 90% of your plan’s eligible benefit schedule allowance.

Some food for though – as with any insurance policy that you choose, make sure that you read the fine print and obtain it sooner rather than later.

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