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What Is Pet Health Insurance

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Daniela Rosgen is a claim specialist at Trupanion Health Insurance

What is pet health insurance?

Emergencies happen extremely often with pets whether they are one-year-old, two months old or twelve years old. We are often not prepared for that, so one thing that does happen unfortunately is clients, pet owners having to surrender their pets because they cannot afford the medical treatments. What we see extremely often and it’s unfortunate for everybody is a foreign body ingestion, that can go from $500 to $10,000 with complications.

That’s where as soon as you adopt a pet you want to enroll him or her. If you’re adopting from a shelter, sign up for a certificate. The earliest you have coverage the less preexisting conditions, you will have, and eventually, you will have coverage for life to all the accidents, illnesses that your pet may have. We want to be able to provide insurance to our clients so that they can provide the best medical care possible to their beloved pets.

What should you know before buying pet insurance?

  • Read the policy carefully so you know exactly what you are covered for and what you are not.
  • If you don’t understand terms or coverage, contact the insurance company.
  • Understand the difference between copays, deductibles, and caps.

Here are some common pet insurance Q&A with Professor Todd Erkis, insurance expert and author of What Insurance Companies Don’t Want You to Know: An Insider Shows You How to Win at Insurance.

The key to pet insurance is to understand in advance exactly what you are purchasing and then weigh the cost of the insurance against what you might collect if your pet becomes sick or injured. If you can pay for the expense out of pocket, it might be best not to purchase the insurance. However, if you would want to give your pet the best treatment possible, but these potential medical expenses would strain the family’s budget, a good pet insurance policy will help pay for your pet’s care.

What are some of the challenges in purchasing a plan? In filing a claim?
Pet insurance coverage is often sold in two parts: wellness insurance for regular checkups and routine shots, and medical insurance for more serious injuries and illnesses. Most types of pet insurance have limits on coverage and some have waiting periods before your pet can be treated. Pet insurance, like human insurance, also has deductibles, meaning you will need to pay some of the claims yourself before the insurance company will pay. Additionally, there are rules that must be followed for the insurance company to pay, like going to a vet who is in the insurance network or getting approval from the insurance company in advance of certain treatments. Make sure you understand your pet insurance and follow all requirements before getting treatment and filing a claim.

How should insurance be approached and viewed?
In general, insurance works best to pay for unexpected, large expenses that would be difficult for a person to afford. Medical expenses for a sick or injured pet can cost thousands of dollars. If it would be a struggle to afford the cost of these treatments, medical insurance on a pet is a good option. It is not recommended to purchase insurance that covers routine expenses, as it is generally cheaper to pay for these smaller expenses outright instead of having the insurance company do it.

What can a consumer do to avoid having their claim rejected?
Before purchasing any insurance policy, such as pet insurance, you should discuss various scenarios with the insurance company to make sure you understand exactly what is covered and what is needed to get a claim approved. It is prudent to ask direct questions, such as “If my pet gets cancer, what treatments are covered? Do I need to get a pre-approval? Can I see any vet or do I need to go to a specific vet hospital?”

Do you believe pet insurance is now better or is it still quite limited in the treatment that it provides?
Pet insurance is definitely better than just a few years ago, with more name-brand companies offering it and more coverage options. Veterinary medicine has also improved leading to longer, healthier lives and where costly procedures like MRIs, cancer treatment, and knee surgery is more common. Remember, pet insurance is there to help you pay for these expensive treatments, but it will likely not cover everything. It’s best when purchased prior to when your pet will need it.

Do the insurance policies cover a broader range of medicines, drugs, treatments, than in the last few years?
Usually, when medical treatments become more common, the insurance policies will cover them. So it depends on how common the medicines and treatments have become.