Pet insurance is continuing to become more common as pets gradually transition from the role of employee (guard dog, rat hunter, flock herder) to family member. Just like we would with a family member, we want to be able to give our pets the best health care possible when they are sick or injured. But with the wealth of pet insurance options on the market today, how does someone who is shopping for a plan know where to start?
One of the most important factors to be aware of is payout and there are essentially two types:
- Plans that pay claims based on a percentage of the actual vet bill and
- Plans that pay claims based on a fee/benefit schedule.
Some pet insurance companies pay a certain percentage of the actual bill while others have fee/benefit schedules. A benefit schedule is a long list of possible conditions and treatments that your pet might get, along with a predetermined dollar amount assigned to each condition/treatment that states how much the pet insurance company will pay. These amounts do not take into account your personal situation or whether or not you live in an area where veterinary care is more expensive. In some cases, these set fees are enough to cover your bill, but in others, it may only cover a small fraction.
In a recent Claim of the Week blog post, Trupanion featured a claim for acute renal failure whose original invoice was $4,948.97.
- Trupanion (which pays based on percentage of the actual bill) repaid $4,373.07.
- But if the policyholder had chosen to insure with a company that uses benefit schedules, they would have only gotten back at most $950. That’s less than 20% of the original bill.
This is something that many pet owners don’t realize until it’s too late and they are faced with a costly veterinary bill.
When selecting a pet insurance company for your furry family member, it’s important to do thorough research. After determining which companies pay claims based on your actual vet bill, it’s easy to quickly weed out the plans that are essentially like discount plans, so that you are only considering options that will offer your pet (and your wallet) the most help in times of need.