The human-animal bond between pet owners and their pets is stronger than ever, as evidenced by 91% of pet owners who consider their pet a part of their family and a total spend of $58 billion a year on pets. While a portion of that spend is on medical advancements in veterinary care that are helping pets live longer, healthier lives, these increases in veterinary costs often present pet owners with a dilemma that weighs the cost versus the best care for the pet. Trupanion, a company that offers medical insurance to cats and dogs, today released the ABCs of Pet Insurance, a simple tool to help pet owners navigate pet medical insurance to decide if it’s the right fit for their family, plus tips on what to consider when it comes to choosing a provider.
“As advanced veterinary care becomes more available and costs increase, medical insurance for pets is rising in popularity and becoming an essential part of responsible pet ownership,” said Dr. Kerri Marshall, Chief Veterinary Officer at Trupanion. “However, with so many different types of insurance, companies, policy options and add-ons, choosing the best policy can seem overwhelming.”
Medical insurance for cats and dogs should not be mistaken with liability or property insurance. The concept of pet medical insurance is fairly straightforward—pay a monthly premium in order to be covered for unexpected, costly veterinary expenses— but every provider is different and offers varying coverage with differing plans, pricing options and limitations.
This simple guide outlines key factors that should go into deciding whether insurance is the right fit for your family.
- Age – Many times, the age of your pet will influence the cost to insure them. Some companies will increase the price of the premium as the pet ages, while some only price based on the age at the time of enrollment. Insuring your pet as a puppy or kitten does have benefits—it is often less expensive and more likely that a pre-existing condition will not already exist. But if your pet is middle-aged or older don’t think that they can’t be insured, some plans allow dogs and cats to be enrolled until age 14 and help with treatments costs needed as your pet ages.
- Breed – Certain breeds are predisposed to costly conditions, such as luxating patellae in Yorkshire Terriers, chronic lower airway disease in Siamese cats and cancer in Golden Retrievers. The right medical insurance coverage will protect your animal even if they are prone to hereditary or congenital conditions.
- Coverage – Each company will offer varying degrees of coverage, and some have coverage schedules and limits. Look for a provider that covers the largest portion of your veterinary bill, offers coverage for congenital and hereditary conditions, and has no limits to the amount they will pay out.
- Deductible – Choose a deductible that fits your budget and pay attention to how they are applied. Deductibles can help you control your premiums while still making sure that you see coverage before you hit your budget limit. Some deductibles must be met yearly, and some only apply once per condition. Some companies offer adjustable deductibles that allow you to adjust the premium cost that best fits your budget.
- pre-Existing conditions – No pet medical insurance company currently covers pre-existing conditions, but each company identifies pre-existing conditions differently. Make sure you understand how each company identifies a pre-existing condition and how they may decide if it relates to a future claim. Even if your pet has a pre-existing condition, like allergies or chronic ear infections, they still may be a good candidate for insurance if they develop an unrelated condition down the road.
- Flexibility – Look for a policy that does not lock you into a long-term contract and gives you the freedom to adjust your deductible or premium payments to fit your changing financial needs. You also want a policy that gives you the freedom to go to any veterinarian or specialist you choose.
In addition, Dr. Marshall recommends every pet owner read reviews and do their homework. It is important to understand what is and what is not covered before you enroll. Dr. Marshall suggests you ask the following questions to help compare features to find the right policy for your pet.
- Is the policy and information easy to understand and readily available on the company’s website?
- How will your pet’s age influence the cost and coverage of the policy? Does your pet meet the age requirements to enroll?
- How will your pet’s breed influence the cost and coverage of the policy? Is your pet more prone to certain health conditions? Will those conditions be covered?
- How much coverage will each company provide? What percentage of the veterinary bill will they cover?
- Does the company set limits or have a benefit schedule where they determine when and what they will payout rather than just pay the bill?
- Is there a deductible? What are the options for the policy? Is it flexible? Will it fit your financial situation?
- When is a condition considered pre-existing?
- What flexibility does the company offer? Will you be locked in a contract? Will you be able to use your coverage at any veterinarian in any state?
- Does your veterinarian recommend them?
If you’re still not sure if pet medical insurance is right for you, your veterinarian can help provide insight. They have extensive knowledge of your pet’s breed risks and health history. Ultimately, it is up to you as the pet owner to decide if insurance is right for your cat or dog. It is not for every family, but with rising veterinary costs it is something that should be considered to keep your finances in check.
To learn more about choosing the right coverage plan for your pet and for more information about Trupanion, please visit Trupanion.com.
Founded in 2000, Trupanion (NYSE: TRUP) offers medical insurance for cats and dogs in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico through its affiliated entities. With over 218,000 total enrolled pets as of 12/31/2014, Trupanion is one of the largest pet medical insurance companies in North America with the mission to help the pets we all love receive the best veterinary care. The Trupanion pet medical insurance plan is simple, fair and comprehensive that pays 90% of the actual veterinary costs for illness and injury claims with no payout limits per incident, per year, or over the lifetime of the pet and with few exclusions. Trupanion policies are underwritten by the American Pet Insurance Company in the U.S. and the Omega General Insurance Company in Canada. For more information please visit Trupanion.com