It is no secret that people all over the world love their pets. In the United States, pet owners spend nearly $20.6 billion on food for them, almost $12.6 billion on their over the counter drugs and supplies and about $14 billion. If you are one of the millions of people who has at least one animal in your home, you may be interested in learning how pet insurance works.
What is pet health insurance?
Pet health insurance is similar in a lot of ways to the health insurance people get. It is there to help defray the costs of treating illnesses and injuries your pet may suffer. It is important to research all of your options before you buy any pet health insurance plans. How pet insurance works is not exactly the same as human healthy insurance.
How pet insurance works:
- Pay a monthly premium to get coverage. Different pet insurance plans have different price tags associated with them. They also have different sized deductibles and levels of coverage, this is similar to your own health insurance. The deductible, like for your car or your own health insurance, is the amount you have to pay out of pocket before the insurance company will pay anything.
- After enrollment, most pet health insurance plans impose a waiting period. This waiting period is the time between your enrollment and the time when you can take your pet in for any kind of medical treatment. Should Fluffy or Fido get injured, you cannot buy a pet insurance policy and then run them over to the local veterinarian. That is just not how pet insurance works. This waiting period can range from just a few days to a full month.
- You pay for the treatment and then the insurance company pays you back. That is a difference from your health insurance where you pay a copayment at the doctor. Again, that is not how pet insurance works. Generally, you take your pet to the veterinarian, they treat your animal and you file the claim. You should bring the paperwork with you to your pet’s appointment so you can fill it out and get that signature then.
- It can take a few weeks to get your reimbursement. Once you have mailed your claim to the insurance carrier, the pet insurance process begins. They will receive and process your claim. The amount they send you will depend on your plan and can vary a lot from one policy and company to another. When you are looking into different pet insurance policies, ask about their reimbursement rates.
- What does your plan cover? When you are looking into your pet insurance options for your animals, you should make sure you ask a lit of questions about what the company and policy will and will not cover. The conditions and injuries that are covered is very different when you go from company to company. Routine care and pre-existing conditions are two that are often not covered by pet health insurance, this is another example of how pet insurance works and is different from human health insurance, where routine care is both covered and encouraged. Wellness exams, teeth cleaning and operations to spay or neuter pets fall under the “routine care” umbrella.
- What is considered “pre-existing?” If a pet has symptoms of an illness during the waiting period, sign up process or before enrollment, it can be considered to be “pre-existing” and may not be covered. Some companies say that any problem with a pet that is discovered up to 18 months before you get them a pet insurance plan can be considered to be a pre-existing condition. If you have a pet, you should start looking at pet health insurance as soon as you can.
It is important to note that some breeds have certain medical issues. You should look into pet health insurance sooner for those animals. Make sure the insurance carrier you talk to about your pet does not have exclusions for these conditions.
Pet health care can get to be very expensive as almost any treatment that is available to people, can be available for animals as well. Getting your pet their own health insurance may be good for both of you.