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What to Look for When it Comes to Pet Insurance

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If you’ve recently started to shop for pet insurance, it can seem like an ocean of options with not a lot of distinction between them. While the companies may not seem distinct, their policies will certainly have a large degree of variance in them.

The best way to find the best insurance company for your needs is to start right there with your needs, and more specifically, identifying what your needs and the needs of your pet are. Be sure you give significant thought to what your vet needs may be in the future.

Enrollment Criteria

When you begin looking for your best pet insurance, you will need to determine the eligibility of the pet in question. In most cases, the younger they are, the better health they are in, and the more affordable it will be to insure them. 

Ideally, you will want to insure your pet as soon as you can, once they pass about 8-10 weeks of age. You will have the widest options for coverage and treatment, and the premiums will be relatively low. 

However, if you are looking to insure an older animal, while not impossible it can be more challenging. There are many companies that will provide insurance to pets in the later stages of life, though. 


Coverage & Treatment

After a long talk with your vet, you should know what type of care your pet is in need of now as well as what they may require in the near future. You should also know the approximate amount that you spend per year on your pet’s preventative checkups and wellness exams. You will need all of this.

Begin to evaluate the potential insurance policies with regard to the type of services and treatments you will need in the near future or are in need of currently. 

If your dentist mentioned that your pooch’s teeth aren’t the best, find a plan that will cover any extractions or other dental work they may need. If you are just looking for emergency accident coverage, on the other hand, you won’t need a plan with extensive wellness coverage.


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Alternative Treatments

Another thing to consider that is becoming much more popular in recent years is the coverage for non-standard treatments, otherwise known as alternative treatments. Alternative treatments can take the form of chiropractic treatments, acupuncture treatments, or other holistic-style treatments. 

Normally these would not be covered, so if they are important to your pet’s health you should make sure your provider covers at least a portion of those expenses. If you can find an insurer that will pre-authorize and arrange payment directly with your vet, they can reduce your stress level and make vet visits incredibly simple. 

Deductible Options

You will have several deductible options, but you will also need to pay close attention to how the deductibles are applied. Deductibles can apply per visit, per incident, per year, or even per pet lifetime.

The deductible will generally be anywhere from $0 to $1,000 and would be set in your policy. If you choose a higher deductible you can often drive your premiums down. However, the opposite is usually true as well, and choosing a low deductible can result in much higher overall premiums. 

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Reimbursement Rate

All pet insurance operates on a basic reimbursement model where the policyholder pays the initial cost of the treatment or medicine and submits a claim for reimbursement after the fact. This means the reimbursement rate is an important metric by which to evaluate potential insurers.

The reimbursement rate can range anywhere from 70% to 80% and even 90%, even among covered services by the provider. This means it is crucial to research the reimbursement rates on the treatments, procedures, features, and benefits that your pet will be using. 

Limits, Pre-Existing Conditions, & Exclusions

Other incredibly important things to look at include the policy payout limits, the potential coverage for any pre-existing conditions, and any procedures or treatments that are specifically excluded. 

The limits will be applicable to all treatments that your pet receives. Once the limit is reached, the insurance policy no longer covers or reimburses further expenses. These limits can reset the next trip to the vet, next year, or never.

In the event of specifically excluded treatments or procedures, no claims can be made for reimbursement. These are often very basic things like spay & neuter, microchipping, and other “first week home” health that are usually completed with new litters or recently adopted pets.