Pet Insurance: What Is It and What Does It Cover?

Pet Insurance: What is it and what does it cover?

We have insurance for our houses, our cars, our health, and even our lives — but what about our pets? You might have heard about pet insurance but learning about the details of what it is, what it covers, and what it doesn’t cover can be a daunting task.

If you have a pet chances are you treat them like one of the family — you would be heartbroken if something happened to them. Is it worth buying insurance for your beloved fur baby? Read more about what the entire process entails below.

What Is Pet Insurance?

Pet insurance plans typically cover accidents and illnesses regarding your pet; some plans even offer accident-only plans. Other policies will even pay out if your pet passes away or is lost or stolen. Proper research will need to be done to look for providers that offer these different types of insurance policies.

Pet insurance generally helps to cover the veterinary costs and treatment in the event of your animal getting sick or injured during an accident. It is possible that some plans will even cover any injury to a third party or a third party’s property.

Insurance is often not limited to just cats and dogs; many providers will cover many species. The insurance policy you choose for your pet will be determined by your personal situation — the current health condition of your pet, their age, their species/breed, etc. There are many providers and policies to choose from so research is key.

Types Of Policies

injured stuffed dog that needs pet insurance

Accident-Only Policies

This type of coverage is generally the most affordable or “cheapest” policy available to pet owners. Sometimes this may be the only type of coverage your pet is qualified for — some insurance providers will only provide accident coverage for dogs and cats over a certain age (usually 15) or if your pet has pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or Cushing’s disease.

As the name suggests — accident-only coverage would help cover costs of veterinary bills if your pet is involved in an accident. Accidents may include but are not limited to: poisoning, cuts, getting hit by a car, or foreign body ingestion. Accident-only policies do not cover illnesses such as cancer, allergies, kidney failure, etc.

Some animals and breeds are at a higher risk for accidents or injuries. For example: dog breeds such as Beagles, who are known to be great escape artists, might have an increased chance of injury. If you live in a rural area your pet may be at risk for snake bites or other encounters with wildlife.

Even if you are constantly keeping a watch over your pets — accidents can still happen. According to Pet Guardian Angels of America the most common injuries/accidents among pets are: lacerations or bite wounds, torn nails, insect bites, abrasions, seed pods, punctures and snake bites.

This type of policy is best for people who are on a tight budget, are concerned about major injuries/accidents, have an elderly pet, or want to insure multiple pets at a lower cost.

Time-Limited Policies

Time-limited policies will allow the owner of a pet to claim for eligible conditions, up to a specified amount of money, in a 12-month period of time. After that time — no further insurance payouts would be made. Essentially — this would mean that you could renew your policy at the end of 12-months, however, that particular condition would not be covered. If your pet would need further treatment regarding that specific condition — the owner would incur the cost of all vet treatments and fees from then on. In addition, the pet would would be liable to cover all costs for the specific condition once the pre-determined financial cap would be reached.

In addition to vet fees, this particular type of policy might include other benefits such as: third party liability, theft or straying, and possibly even costs towards finding a missing pet.

This type of insurance coverage is a good option for people who want to cover their pet for accidents or short-term health issues — it is also another “cheaper” option for pet owners to consider. Keep in mind that if this type of policy is taken out while your animal is young and healthy it may be difficult to find coverage in the future as they may have pre-existing conditions.

Maximum Benefit Policies

A maximum benefit policy is somewhat similar to a time-limited policy in that it will have a certain financial cap or limit to the coverage provided. However, the difference is that it will not have the 12-month time limit.

Illnesses and injuries will be covered until the maximum amount of financial coverage has been reached. Once this amount has been reached, the treatment of the illness or injury will not be eligible for coverage again. If your pet has received treatment for a particular illness and the same type of illness reappears in another part of the body later in life — for example: a different leg or eye — many maximum-benefit policies will not cover this treatment as it will be considered as the same condition as before.

A pet with long-term conditions or illnesses is not a good candidate for this type of policy because once the coverage limit has been reached — your pet is no longer eligible to be reinstated for coverage for that same condition or illness.

Once again — this type of coverage is best for owners of pets that want peace of mind for short-term health conditions, accidents, or injuries.

Lifetime Benefit Policies

Lifetime coverage pet insurance policies, also known as covered-for-life policies, are by far the most comprehensive form of coverage for your pet, however, this is the most expensive option. This type of coverage provides a set amount of coverage for veterinary fees and renews every single year. This means that as long as the coverage is active, your animal will be covered.

People who own pedigree dogs, rabbits, or cats might opt for this type of coverage as well as people who own pets prone to long-term illnesses or conditions. Long-term conditions that a pet owner might be concerned about are: arthritis, hip dysplasia, severe allergies or diabetes. These types of long-term conditions can rack up hundreds or thousands of dollars in veterinary treatment. Although more expensive, having the comprehensive coverage of a lifetime benefit pet insurance policy can provide peace of mind for the pet owner.

Average Cost Of Common Pet Conditions & Illnesses

Cute dog holding money for pet insurance

Figuring out what plan is best for you can be a bit confusing at first. Using a pet insurance guide is a great place to start. There are also many pet insurance comparison tools available as well.

To help you gauge what amount of coverage your pet might need, we’ve compiled a list of common accidents, conditions, and illness along with the average cost of treatment for each to help you get an idea of how much coverage would be needed.

You can see more examples of actual pet insurance claims by visiting Trupanion.

Is Pet Insurance Worth The Cost? 5 Factors In Determining Your Cost Of Coverage

Injured dog that needs pet insurance

As you’ve been reading, the amount of coverage can vary depending on many different scenarios. It’s up to you to do your research and determine if pet insurance is the right way to go for you and your furry companion.

How much your pet insurance will cost will depend on 5 major factors: where you live, breed of pet, age of your pet, the coverage you choose, and which company is providing your coverage. Let’s look at each factor a bit more in depth.

  1. Where You Live: The average cost of pet insurance coverage in the U.S.A. is around $492 per year. Surgery and treatments in major cities such as Los Angeles or New York can be much more expensive than in smaller cities like Des Moines or Omaha. For example: the average cost of cat insurance in Alabama can be approximately $27 per month versus $38 per month in Massachusetts.
  2. Breed Of Your Pet: The cost of your coverage can also be influenced by the breed of your dog, cat, or other type of animal. For example: purebred dogs may be more expensive to cover than mixed-breeds due to the fact that purebreds are more inclined to suffer from certain hereditary conditions. The same goes for cats as well.
  3. Age Of Your Pet: One thing humans and pets have in common is that the older we get, the more prone to injuries and illnesses we are. Pet insurance coverage is available for pets of any age, however — the older the pet, the more expensive the coverage will most likely be.
  4. Type Of Coverage Chosen: We went over the 4 basic types of pet insurance that most companies offer (above) — the policy you choose will have a great influence on the cost of your coverage. The deductible and reimbursement amount you choose for your policy will also have a major impact on the overall cost. If you choose a higher deductible amount (amount you pay out of pocket before coverage kicks in) then your insurance monthly cost would be lower. If you choose a lower reimbursement amount (such as 60-70% versus 80-90%) then your total insurance cost will be lower. It’s up to you to find the policy that is right for you and your pet.
  5. Which Company Is Providing Coverage: There are about 12 major pet insurance companies offering coverage in America. There are also 7 companies that provide wellness only plans (such as routine check ups.) During your research you’ll find that some companies offer broader coverage while others have hidden exclusions. Keep an eye out for companies that offer multi-pet discounts as well! Again — it will be up to you to find what company is the best fit for you and your pet.

All of these factors combined will determine how much it will cost to keep your beloved pet covered in case of accident, injury, or illness.

Some Facts To Help Determine If Pet Insurance Is Right For You

Before you set off on comparing pet insurance policies — we wanted to leave you with some facts regarding pets and insurance as food for thought.

  • Every 6 seconds a pet owner is faced with a veterinary bill of over $1,000
  • A pet receives emergency treatment every 2.5 seconds in the U.S.A.
  • Zero pet insurance companies cover pre-existing conditions
  • There are approximately 171 million dogs and cats in the U.S.A.
  • Approximately $15.42 billion was spent on veterinary care in the U.S.A. during 2015 (estimating a 3.6% increase in 2016)

Choosing a pet insurance company or the amount of coverage needed can feel overwhelming and complicated for many pet owners. We hope that this guide was helpful in answering any questions you may have had regarding policies, types of coverage, and costs. There are many online tools to help pet owners determine if pet insurance is the right choice for you and your animal companion.

Our pets mean the world to us and it’s important to make sure they are happy and healthy — pet insurance might be a great option for you to ensure their prosperity. Others may not find that it is a necessary option — it’s up to you to determine what’s best! Do your research, stay informed, and as always — keep your pet healthy!

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