Pets—as a part of our families, they provide comfort, companionship, and reliable conversation topics at dinner parties. Being a pet owner consists of hilarious adventures and stories that make everyone laugh. But just like any living creature, pets have medical needs. These bills can add up, so there are hundreds of insurance policies out there to help cover and sway the expenses of veterinary visits.
Insurers like ASPCA, Nationwide, Petplan, and Pets Best all advertise their policies in big fancy fonts, colors, and symbols. With green check marks, five stars, and a heart-warming mission statement, these companies appeal to owners’ hearts. It can be hard to think clearly and rationally when the phrase, “They’re one of you,” is advertised at the front of the website.
Though this rhetoric is powerful, it is crucial to under the policy’s fine print and what exactly the policy covers and provides. There are three key questions to ask when looking through pet insurance policies:
- Will my premiums actually make my expenses cheaper in the long run versus going without the plan?
- Does this plan cover preexisting conditions?
- Will my pet ever be dropped for any medical conditions or situations?
Premiums and Costs
Often, pet insurance plans may not actually make veterinary expenses cheaper in the long run. Between a small increase in premiums every year, co-pays, and deductibles, the cost of the insurance policy may cause a bigger dent to the wallet than going without the policy. Combing through the policy at the very beginning provides the best way to really understand the overall benefits.
If a pet insurance policy seems appealing (which there can be many benefits with a reliably healthy pet), it is highly suggested to insure the pet when it is very young and with little chance for immediate health problems.
The Issue with Preexisting Medical Issues
Across the board, most policies do not cover preexisting conditions or conditions that develop within the first year of the plan. In many cases, this means the most costly medical expenses in the pet’s life is not covered by the policy, thus making the actual needed coverage close to null.
Asking for a medical record review will also help in deciphering through all of the jargon to find out the extents of the policy’s coverage. This will show what conditions, procedures, and visits are covered or not covered. Many companies encourage this request because the owner can make a more informed decision, thus cutting the risk of losing customers soon after signing them.
Can They Drop a Pet?
Even with careful consideration of the policy and its benefits, accidents and incidents happen. Pets need expensive procedures—possibly several—throughout their lifetime. The emotional toll this can have on pets and their owners is stressful enough, without the factor of money (hence the point of pet insurance).
But what if the expenses are too high? Will the insurance company drop the pet from the plan?
Most companies, like Nationwide, say never—except under certain circumstances. These can include the age of the pet’s enrollment and the reliability of the client’s payment and loyalty to the plan.
Nationwide says, “As long as your pet is enrolled before age 10 and you keep your policy continually in force (translation: don’t let it lapse or expire), we promise not to drop your pet. After all, we’re pet lovers, too!”
This kind of policy is consistent throughout many other companies. With certain restrictions, they promise never to drop pets on their insurance plans. While this may seem relieving, life happens and sometimes income fluctuates or situations change. It’s all about the need for the insurance policy, the pet itself, and the unknown future.
The First Steps
Making decisions like these can be incredibly intimidating with a lot of factors and moving parts. After all, how is anyone supposed to know the status of their pet’s future health? How can one make a large financial decision, like insurance, without having all of the facts?
At the end of the day, pet insurance is a gamble. As a pet owner, one is gambling already by adding another little lifeform to the circle. Things may or may not go wrong. Pet insurance may help minimize the damage, or it may cause more.
Researching many different companies, many different policies, and reading reviews people post online are three points of focus when thinking about investing in an insurance policy. This will help in clearing some of the fog; knowing the actual coverage of the policy, what is included in the coverage from day one, and reading the fine print in the terms and agreements helps in making a final decision.
Also Read: Pet Insurance and Wellness