Thinking of Pet Health Insurance?

Ani the Surgeon


These days pets are an important part of the family.  They sleep in our beds.  We cook for them.  And pet health insurance is becoming more and more commonplace.  And why shouldn’t your baby be covered?  When purchased wisely, it can be invaluable.  Here are a few things to consider before you commit to a plan.

Watch for the difference between a medical plan and a wellness plan.  These are usually 2 separate products.  Medical plans will cover the unexpected things like illness and injury while wellness plans will cover routine care like vaccinations.  Be sure to check where cancer, prescription diets and dental care and fall, including advanced procedures like dental x-rays and extractions.  These items may only be covered under special plans or additional riders.  Also if you have a purebred dog, especially a brachycephalic (flat-faced) breed, be very careful to ask if hereditary conditions are covered - they usually aren’t.

Premiums vary based on the kind of animal being insured, the type of plan selected, the deductible/coverage level chosen and where you live.  Sometimes discounts are available if more than one pet is insured.  Remember that your annual premium will probably not be your only cost.

It’s very standard to pay a deductible before your coverage kicks in.  While humans usually have annual deductibles, your pet’s deductible will probably be applied per incident.  Usually higher deductibles mean a lower annual premium.  If you want to save money on the monthly cost, make sure you have enough set aside to cover the deductible first.

With pet insurance, policy holders are free to visit any veterinarian they choose.  Policy holders pay the entire bill at the time services are rendered.  Receipts are submitted to the company and a reimbursement check is returned to the policy holder.  The amount reimbursed is based on the conditions of the specific plan.

But which pet insurance company should you choose?  Ask friends and family what their experiences have been like.  Read reviews.  Call the company and ask questions - how to they respond to your questions and concerns?  How many claims to they deny/accept a year?  Watch for the term “reasonable and customary”.  Some plans say they will cover 90% or even 100% of the bill.  Other plans will only cover a set percentage for what they deem “reasonable and customary” - you’ll want to know how each company defines this term.  Also ask about lifetime maximums and payout limits per illness or injury - these are common.

Think about your pet’s personality.  Does she chew and swallow things that she shouldn’t?  Hello, intestinal blockage.  Is he flat-faced?  Does he have respiratory issues?  Even healthy bulldog puppies can develop serious breathing problems as adults.  Is he a large or giant breed dog?  Some policies will not cover conditions like hip dysplasia.  And of course, pre-existing conditions are usually excluded.  This is important to remember because even at the first examination, if the veterinarian detects a loose kneecap, a heart murmur or some other abnormality, this will be documented on the pet’s record that day.  Any records that the insurance company requests will state this finding and it will likely be considered a pre-existing condition.

Health insurance, whether it’s for your pet or yourself, can represent peace of mind and that’s definitely worth the consideration.  For other pet parents, that peace of mind comes in simply saving a set amount of money each month.  Some of our clients have literally opened a savings account specifically for their pet(s).  Whatever the method, it never hurts to be prepared for the unexpected.  Bottom line: when considering pet insurance, know what you are buying before you buy it.

Does pet health insurance seem right for you?  The veterinarians and staff at DTLAvets are always happy to chat with you - give us a call to schedule an appointment today!

(DTLAvets does not endorse any one particular insurance company, but we do find it valuable to explore the idea with each owner.)