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What Is Pet Insurance?
Pet insurance is a health insurance policy for your pet that pays for medical expenses and sometimes other costs.
Pet insurance plans are typically reimbursement-based, meaning you pay up-front for the pet’s vet bills and submit a claim to the insurance company. A few companies can pay the vet directly, which helps keep your out-of-pocket payments low.
There’s usually a deductible before coverage starts. For example, you might pay the first $500 in vet bills before the pet insurance starts to pay.
Even after your deductible is paid, the pet insurance may not pay 100% of vet bills. You can typically choose your reimbursement level. Common reimbursement options are 70%, 80%, or 90% of your vet bills.
What Pet Insurance Covers
What’s covered by pet insurance depends on the type of plan you buy. Pet insurance plans are generally available in three varieties:
- Accident and illness plans
- Accident-only plans
- Wellness plans for routine care such as vaccinations
Accident and illness plans generally cover injury or sickness such as broken bones, cancer, hereditary conditions and congenital conditions, and more.
You can add a routine wellness plan to many pet insurance policies. This will offset the cost of the annual vet wellness visit, vaccinations, and heartworm treatment routine care costs that help keep your pet healthy.
Pet insurance may not cover pre-existing conditions, meaning conditions your pet had before the policy went into effect, including any waiting period.
Comprehensive pet insurance policies will be the most expensive plans. If you don’t want a policy that covers a wide range of problems, you can buy a policy with fewer benefits. For example, you can buy a pet insurance plan that covers only accidents.
Some pet insurance plans include pet dental insurance, which covers problems like dental illnesses (such as gum disease) and dental accidents (such as broken teeth).
Buying a pet insurance plan with less coverage can be significantly cheaper. But keep in mind, with an accident-only policy, you’ll bear the full cost for any non-accident-related medical expenses such as skin problems, ear infections, and cancer.
What Pet Insurance does not cover
- Pre-existing conditions. When a pet is diagnosed with or indicates signs of injury before coverage begins, pet insurance generally won’t cover it. However, some pet insurers extend coverage for what they consider “curable” pet pre-existing conditions. For example, Embrace Pet Insurance will re-establish coverage for a curable pre-existing condition if the medical records illustrate no indications of the condition for at least 12 month
- Preventive or elective procedures. Plans won’t cover preventive or elective procedures such as nail trimming, ear cropping, declawing, or tail docking.
- Exam fees. Some insurance companies exclude exam fees from coverage
- Grooming. When you take your pet to the spa for a bit of pampering, it won’t cover grooming or shampooing.
- Breeding costs. Costs with breeding aren’t covered.
- Expenses not related to veterinarian care. This includes expenses such as taxes or administrative fees charged by the vet.
- Food and vitamins. Regular food isn’t covered, but some plans cover prescription pet food.
“It’s also important to point out that some policies exclude coverage if a pet owner does not maintain the level of recommended care from the veterinarian,” says Beth Wymer, a spokesperson for Pumpkin Pet Insurance.