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Pet Insurance vs Wellness Plans: Which Is Right For You?

What would you do if your pet needed a $5,000 surgery to survive?

As intimidating as this sounds, it happens with unfortunate frequently. Pets owners are suddenly put in a difficult position of evaluating what their pet’s life is worth. In many cases they must also evaluate what their pet’s life is worth to their family. Do you have the cash on hand? Would you max out a credit card? Or would it be an easy no? Asking these questions and doing the research now is in your best interest, regardless of your decision.

Last year, Americans spent 29.3 billion on veterinary care for their pets, and that number is estimated to increase to 30.2 billion next year. The rising cost of veterinary care can put a financial strain on a family when they are caught in the position of taking care of their pets needs with only the cash they have on hand.

Gone are the days of being left to take care of our pets on our own!.. financially that is. If done right, you can protect your pet and family against life’s accidents, tragedy’s, and eventualities. You can obtain a reliable and reasonable support system from the experienced professionals of the combined insurance and pet world. Thankfully, your pet has you, who is considering their health, who wants to provide the best care possible. Chances are, if you are reading this, it’s a good time to research and consider pet insurance coverage (or wellness plan) for your pet.

What Is Pet Insurance?

Pet insurance helps to cover the cost of unexpected veterinary care, care that pets need in order to stay healthy.

It is important to note that pet insurance is not the same as health insurance. Pet insurance coverage more closely resembles a property insurance policy. As much as we love our pets as family, legally they are seen as our property and insurance treats them as such. So technically, pet insurance is property insurance. In fact, the adjusters at pet insurance companies are licensed as property insurance adjusters.

Why is this distinction important for pet owners to understand? The answer has to do with enrollment and coverage.

Think of it this way: If you own a car, you must have car insurance. If you don’t have insurance and you are involved in an accident, then it is too late. You will be financially responsible for any damage that was caused by the accident. You can’t sign up for an insurance policy the next day and make a claim – the claim will be denied.

The same rules apply to pet insurance. If you sign up after your pet is injured or becomes ill, the insurance policy won’t cover that situation. This is why it is important to sign up for pet insurance as quickly as possible.

Things To Know Before You Buy Pet Insurance

Like any other insurance, policies vary widely from company to company. Before purchasing a policy be sure to read over all of the terms and conditions. Here are the questions you should be asking:

Are There Enrollment Rules?

Every insurer has enrollment rules. This might involve the age of the pet – for example, pets under 6 or 8 weeks of age may not be eligible for coverage. The same applies to older pets. Some insurance agencies will insure a pet of any age while others have cut-offs.

Enrollment rules also address when a pet needs to be examined. Many insurance companies will require that a pet be examined within a few weeks of being insured if they haven’t had an exam in the past year. This exam provides a basis, meaning that any pre-existing conditions will be determined at that time.

What Is Covered?

Every policy is different. Some policies will cover any illness or injury while others will exclude certain medical conditions based on breed, and some will cover everything except rehabilitation, behavioral, and chiropractic work.

Knowing exactly what your insurance policy will pay for can help you to make financial decisions comfortably in the future.

In general, most insurance companies will cover medical conditions such as:

  • broken bones
  • gastroenteritis
  • pancreatitis
  • kidney disease
  • dental disease
  • hypothyroidism
  • pneumonia
  • auto-immune diseases

Just one of these medical conditions can cost a pet owner thousands of dollars to treat. Chronic medical conditions require ongoing care for the rest of a pet’s life, greatly increasing the cost of care.

Are There Waiting Periods?

A waiting period is the time period between when the policy is purchased and when the coverage actually starts. A typical waiting period is 24 hours before accidents are covered and 2 weeks before illnesses are covered.

What Are The Payout Limits?

Also known as yearly benefits, different pet insurance companies offer different yearly benefits. Typically, various policy limits are offered, which impacts the overall price.

It is wise to do research about common ailments that could impact your pet’s health. Determine how much you think you can afford out of pocket if the benefit limits are reached.

Thankfully, many policies offer unlimited yearly benefits once the deductible has been met so that pet parents will never have to decide between debt and their pet’s health.

What Are The Deductible Options?

A deductible is the amount that you will have to pay before the insurance provides coverage. Deductibles typically range anywhere between $50 and $1000.

It’s also important to determine if deductibles are per condition or per year. If a pet becomes injured or ill several times a year, you’ll end up paying more out of pocket with a per condition deductible than a yearly deductible.

Is There A Coinsurance?

Coinsurance is the percentage of the veterinary bill that you will be responsible for. While some policies offer 100% coinsurance, which means the company will pay for everything once the deductible has been met, others may only offer a 50% coinsurance.

How Does Reimbursement Work?

The majority of pet insurance companies require that pet owners pay the bill up front and then the claim will be paid by check or through direct deposit. There are a few, however, who will pay the vet directly.

By asking the above questions you’ll have a clear indication of the type of coverage you can obtain for your pet.

How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost?

Pet insurance policy prices can vary widely and are based on:

  • Zip Code
  • Pet Species
  • Pet Breed
  • Pet Age
  • The Type Of Coverage
  • The Deductible and Coinsurance

On average, pet insurance can run anywhere between $12-$70 a month.

It is always a good idea to shop around for the policy that is right for you and your pet. Even if your pet is already covered, you might find a better deal a few years down the road! Just keep in mind that if your pet has pre-existing conditions, those conditions likely will not be covered if you switch insurance companies.

Is Pet Insurance Really Worth It?

Yes, for the majority of pet owners, pet insurance is worth the cost. It is true that some pets will be perfectly healthy for years but ultimately, all pets are injured or ill at some point in their lives.

The average American only has about $1,500 to contribute to unexpected medical care before they have to go into debt. The right pet insurance policy can eliminate the loss of savings and literally save a pet’s life.

Are Pet Insurance And Wellness Plans The Same Thing?

No, pet insurance and wellness plans are not the same thing. Although many pet insurance companies do offer the additional purchase of a wellness plan, they work differently.

Pet insurance only covers injuries caused by an accident or illnesses. Insurance does not cover routine or wellness care. However, pet insurance companies may offer wellness plans that are part of a package. Other companies will offer wellness plans exclusively.

Because insurance and wellness are different, a pet owner who exclusively obtains insurance coverage may be responsible for the costs of things like:

  • yearly exams
  • vaccines
  • routine bloodwork
  • flea and tick preventatives
  • routine dental cleanings
  • spays and neutering

Wellness plans can be beneficial depending on the price and what is covered. To determine if you might benefit from a wellness plan, consider the amount you spend on routine care each year and compare that amount to the yearly price of the wellness plan and the coverage available.

When’s The Best Time and Who Should I Pick?

The only best time is before you need it. There is a long list of pet owners who wished they had looked into it earlier.

As for who’s the best? Check back with us soon! We are reviewing several of the best plans out their and will break down our suggestions in our next post! If you are already a client of ours, give us a few weeks after this post and check in with us. We are working to obtain our clients discounts on the best plans!

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