Every pet owner should plan for accidents and illnesses. Whether your new puppy eats something they shouldn’t or your old cat develops joint issues, one-third of pets will need an urgent trip to the vet for treatment each year. The average cost of emergency surgeries for cats and dogs falls between $800 and $1500–and crises like cancer can potentially send medical costs soaring into the tens of thousands of dollars. Comprehensive pet insurance, by comparison, costs an average of $354.58 per year for cats and $566.34 for dogs, making this investment a wise way to keep your pet healthy without breaking the bank.
However, many owners shy away from pet insurance over fears their policy will drop their pet as they grow older and incur additional vet bills. Thankfully, you can rest assured knowing that most pet insurance policies offer lifetime coverage for your pet, and will never drop your pet for developing an illness.
7 Tips for Choosing a Lifetime Pet Insurance Policy:
Pet insurance is an evolving industry, and plans can vary widely between providers. Before you choose an insurance policy, here are seven tips to keep in mind to ensure your pet will have care for life:
1. Choose a reputable insurance company – Most well-regarded insurance policies will offer you lifetime coverage, but it’s your responsibility to spend time researching which companies these are. Talk with friends, ask your trusted vet, check consumer guides, read reviews and make sure this lifetime guarantee is stated clearly in the policy before making a purchase.
2. Look outside the box for less-common pets –A particular lifetime pet insurance policy may sound excellent until you hear it only applies to cats and dogs. While most pet insurance policies (and most advertising for these policies) focus on these common pets, there are specialty providers who cover rabbits, horses, parrots, hedgehogs and other beloved pets.
3. Keep your pet’s breed in mind – Different breeds of pets are born with different genetic risks. If your beloved pet has a predisposition to hip problems, skin issues or other potentially expensive illnesses, make sure that these illnesses are covered by your chosen policy. Some policies include caveats refusing to cover particular problems if they occur before or after your pet is a certain age, so be sure to learn when your pet’s hereditary illnesses are likely to reveal themselves. Paying attention to the fine print will ensure your pet lives a long, happy, healthy life even after one of these illnesses occurs.
4. Buy a policy as early in your pet’s life as possible – While most owners think it unnecessary to purchase an insurance plan for their perfectly healthy pooch, investing early will save money in the long run. If you purchase a plan while your pet is young and healthy, your monthly rate will be significantly less than if you had purchased a plan later in your pet’s life. Waiting until later also runs the risk of your pet developing conditions that often accompany growing older–and most insurance companies won’t cover a pet’s pre-existing conditions. Investing in a lifetime coverage plan before these conditions develop gives you a less-expensive policy that will prove more reliable for you and your pet.
5. Research policy costs over your pet’s life – Many pet insurers increase their premiums as your pet grows older. Be sure to ask for quotes on insuring your pet at different ages to ensure you get the best value out of your pet insurance–and to ensure you can afford coverage through your pet’s long life.
6. Check what the policy covers – There’s no sense investing in a lifetime guarantee if your policy doesn’t cover anything. Every pet insurance policy is different, so you’ll need to read the fine print to discover whether a particular policy covers accidents, diseases, or vaccinations. You’ll also want to confirm that the policy you’re considering covers the actual cost of the procedure, and not an estimated cost of what the provider believes the procedure should cost. Lastly, many policies include waiting periods between when you begin paying for your policy and when you can make a claim for accidents or illness.
7. Investigate the limitations of the policy – While many pet insurance policies advertise, offer unlimited yearly coverage, some only offer this at higher coverage tiers. Check the specific policy you’re looking into to see if it includes yearly, lifetime or condition caps. While it is unlikely you’ll hit the upper limit of most policies, keep your pet’s likely ailments in mind. If your pet is at risk of developing a recurring or particularly expensive type of health issue, you may need to look for a policy with a higher (or no) cap. After all, you want your pet to be covered for potential health issues for life, not just until your first big scare.
Your pet becomes your family member the second you bring them home. They depend on you to provide them with the love and care they deserve. With the right choice in pet insurance, you can remain confident in knowing you’ll be able to support them in their every need every day of their whole lives!