Despite the growth of pet insurance as a means to take proper care of pets, there are still only about 20 companies in the pet insurance marketplace in North America.
How does pet insurance work?
Pet insurance is very much like property insurance, and not human insurance. This means you'd be expected to pay up the bills first, then file a claim, and once approved, be reimbursed for the payment.
Depending on your country and insurer, you might also be required to pay co-payment with the insurer taking up about 70-80% of the bill as is common in the US. In some cases, the insurer partners with the clinic, paying them directly while you only offer your co-payment. Some vets in cases of very high bills, even allow you to receive payment from the insurer before remitting it to them.
Factors considered when calculating your premium: age of pet, breed, specie, your location, deductible to be paid, policy interested in, insurer, e.t.c.
Types of Pet insurance
- accident only, or basic coverage: just like the name, this is the simplest and cheapest package.
- accident and illness, or comprehensive coverage: this is usually the most expensive package as it covers for more than one scenario.
- wellness coverage, for preventative procedures: this covers things like grooming, and so cost somewhere between the other two.
These pet insurances could be:
- Lifetime: where the pet is covered for life, no matter how many times a condition presents. Even though there might be limits on amounts, or conditions
- Non-lifetime: this is limited, and usually requires you to remove a condition claimed for when renewing.
Average pet insurance costs
According to data from The North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA), the average pet insurance costs in the U.S. in 2019 for accident and illness coverage was $585.40 yearly for dogs and $349.93 for cats, while for accident only, it was $194.09 for dogs, and $126.08 for cats.
What to look out for in the best pet insurance
Before you purchase a policy, you should ask yourself some questions: Is your pet prone to injuries? Is the species prone to specific conditions? Is this preparation for the rainy day? If any of the answers to this is yes, then you should definitely get a policy.
Pick policies that cover several issues, and pay attention to the premium or deductible you have to pay. Lemonade, Metlife or Petfirst insurance generally offers affordable policy costs, and like most insurers, would allow you to visit any vet so long as they are licensed.
There are common exclusions when it comes to pet insurance:
- pre-existing conditions (ask your insurer what they term as this
- dangerous or banned breeds - well, MetLife pet insurance covers dogs and cats of any age and breeds.
- pregnancy-related issues,
- behavioral issues
- conditions that arise within the waiting period before your policy kicks in. Luckily, PetFirst pet insurance has the shortest waiting period.
- preventable conditions, e.g. those that could have been vaccinated against, or prevented by properly caring for your pet.
However, some of these exclusions might be included if you're willing to pay a higher premium.
You also want to know what the payout per scenario is, as well as the maximum. Since certain factors determine premium, you should know that as your pet ages, an increase in premiums might occur, confirm with your provider before purchase of this will happen, and by how much.
Another thing to watch out for is that while some insurance companies would pay using the actual bill, others would have pre-determined what it'd cost for a specific condition and that's the amount you're entitled to even if the cost is actually more.
Is pet insurance worth it?
The way pet insurance works, the amount spent on premiums or deductibles would be similar, if not more than the cost for bills you'd actually spend on your pet.
So generally, pet insurance is worth it in the occurrence of a terrible accident that racks up so many bills. Otherwise, you'd be better off just saving the premiums and caring for your pet. If you're able to foot whatever bills your pet incurs no matter how much, then there's really no need to get pet insurance.
The major aim is to ensure that money isn't the only factor hindering you from caring for your pet, and if you must get pet insurance, the most important thing is to understand all the laid-out terms, and choose a policy that suits you best.