Everything you need to know about pet insurance in 2020
Why are a dog and other pets insurance so important?
Like us, pets can get sick or get an unexpected injury at some point.
Pet insurance helps owners plan unexpected charges related to veterinary services. This is one of the main reasons why owners decide to insure their pets.
Pet insurance policies can also cover many other high-risk cases, including the pet’s owner’s civil liability, compensation in the event of death or loss of the animal, where the owner is sick, and several other scenarios, which will be explained later.
What factors affect the cost of a policy for a pet?
The five key factors affecting the insurance price and the type of insurance are:
- Breed – Some breeds are more prone to certain injuries than others.
- Location – where you live will determine the cost of veterinary help.
- Sex – as in the case of humans, also in pets there is a significant difference in the risk of getting sick and the costs of treating the male and the female.
- Age – older pets are more susceptible to external factors and have an increased risk of getting sick because of the ageing process.
- Vet cost – the more restrictions there are in your pet’s insurance contract, the less the insurer will probably want to pay.
Choosing dog, cat and pet insurance in 2020
- Insure your pet as soon as possible – your pet can be happy and healthy now, but your insurance reduces the waiting time for help in the event of illness or injury.
- Make the right choice. Think about what you are really looking for and what you expect from your insurer. Check if the insurance amount is sufficient to cover the costs of the treatment if the animal is sick or injured and requires hospitalization. Add in the vet fees you expect now and in the future when your pet gets old.
- Always read the small print – carefully read the terms and conditions of the policy. They are usually available on the website or on request. The insurer is required by law to provide accurate data and information about what accidents are covered by pet insurance. Check if the policy covers the cost of visiting a veterinary institution or animal clinic, as well as the costs of examinations, medicines, dressings, procedures, narcosis and cremation.
- DO NOT GO ONLY FOR THE PRICE! – Animal insurance policies don’t always work the same way. The way you pay for veterinary care is the biggest difference between policies and it influences the price. The main types of protection will be explained below.
- DO NOT CHOOSE INSURANCE WITH THE HIGHEST COMPENSATION – The amount of compensation is important, but a high payment does not necessarily mean better protection. Be sure what type of insurance the company offers, as it will determine the conditions and the duration of the policy.
- If in doubt, ask! If you are not sure if specific pet health insurance will meet your requirements – call the agency and just ask. Sometimes this is the easiest way because the information provided on pet insurer websites or brochures from the vet are unclear.
How does animal insurance work?
What type of insurance is right for my pet and me?
Some policies, often the cheaper ones, offer more strict protection conditions for which they will be able to pay and/or how long they will pay. That is why it is extremely important to understand the terms of the contract before signing it and that the policy chosen by you will meet your needs now and in the future.
There are four main types of dog or pet insurance that are available. To help you choose, we list them below with a detailed description.
- Life insurance. This policy is designed to protect the life of the animal and the subject of which is the animal’s life. The cash limit is renewed each year. What does this mean? As long as the policy is renewed and premiums are paid, you will be able to claim full compensation every year for any accident, for the rest of your pet’s life.
- Animal health insurance. Under the terms of this insurance, the insurer provides coverage for treatment costs up to a certain monetary limit for each diagnosed separate animal condition. As long as the policy is renewed, you can receive compensation up to the amount specified in the contract until it is exhausted, after which the money will no longer be paid.
- 12-month temporary insurance. These (often cheaper) policies provide coverage for a specific amount of treatment for 1 year for each separate diagnosis. The most popular is usually a 12-month policy, which, after reaching a certain amount or exceeding the end date, is ceased.
- Accident insurance – this pet insurance is usually much cheaper and less popular because it doesn’t cover the cost of treating a disease.
REMEMBER: Not all pets (or dogs) insurance policies are the same!
Pet insurance – what to look for?
It is often worth buying additional protection as an extension of the basic package. An additional form of security is the accident policy for your pets.
What are the age limits in pet insurance?
Most insurers have introduced maximum age limits above which you cannot insure your pet. However, if your pet was insured before this age, most companies will offer a renewal policy every year, until the end of the life of the pet.
Past diseases and chronic diseases.
Previous medical conditions and injuries that the animal suffered before purchasing the policy are not refundable. Your insurance for pets, including dogs, does not cover existing injuries. In the event of their recurrence, you will not be able to claim any compensation either. In short, the younger your pet is when you insure it, the less likely medical problems will occur.
Birth defects in your pets.
If your animal was born with a disease or is a breed genetically predisposed to diseases such as eye cataracts or diabetes, it may be excluded from the list of returns. However, some insurers allow some innate terms as an additional option.
REMEMBER – if you start applying for additional compensation and decide to switch to another insurance company, remember that poor animal health or chronic illness before signing a new contract will be automatically excluded from the new policy. That is why choosing the right pet insurance the first time is extremely important.
Payment waiting period.
This is the number of days that must pass before claims for insurance (including the death of a pet) qualify for payment. Usually, this period lasts from 10 to 30 days.
Costs of diagnosing your pet.
For many insurance policies, services such as x-rays and MRI scans are only covered in the form of injury insurance. Remember to confirm this, because they can be very expensive procedures.
Medical research in the laboratory.
Laboratory tests – in many cases, laboratory tests are needed to determine the appropriate treatment. Contact your insurer to confirm if your pets laboratory tests are covered by health insurance of your choice.
Medications for dogs, cats and other pets.
The cost of pet medicines can add up, so it’s important to see how they are covered by the policy. Some of the best pet insurance policies also include reimbursement for medicines, while other companies offer them as an option.
Pet surgeries, including dogs, can be very expensive and qualified differently by different pet insurance companies. For some policies, this may be an additional or limited option.
Additional benefits for dogs.
Most pet owners, including dogs, insure their pets to protect themselves against the costs of unexpected veterinary treatment. Many companies also offer additional options.
For some companies, these benefits may be optional.
- Liability insurance – necessary and recommended for all dog owners. This option covers any costs if your dog injures people or property.
- The reward, in the event of a missing animal – the policy covers the cost of local announcements and the reward offered for finding a dog, up to a certain monetary limit.
- Theft insurance – if your pet is not found or is abducted, the company reimburses the policy after a certain period of time.
- Death of a dog – in an unfortunate event of your pet’s death, this option allows you to apply for a refund of the original purchase price up to a certain amount. Insurers usually do not pay in the event of death due to ill health or due to illnesses held at a certain age, detected prior to signing the contract.
- Fees for meals and a stay at a veterinary clinic – in the event of an unexpected visit to the hospital or hospitalization, the policy covers the costs of caring for your pet.
- Holiday interruption – some companies offer the option of refunding cancellation or shortening of holidays if your pet unexpectedly falls ill and urgently needs medical help or surgery.
- Travel insurance – when you travel abroad, an additional protection service is needed. It is important that the country you are in is a member of the “PETS Travel Scheme” program, which authorizes you to extend the package with third party liability insurance outside your country of residence for a specified number of days.
- Pregnancy in dogs – some companies may provide coverage for veterinary fees for follow-up visits and complications during the pregnancy and childbirth.
- Alternative therapies – For animals that do not respond to traditional treatment, some veterinarians use alternative methods such as CBD oil treatment, acupuncture and hydrotherapy. Most standard policies do not include alternative therapy, so if you think you will ever need it, you can add it to the basic insurance for an additional fee.
- Dental treatment for a dog – some insurance companies cover the costs of dental treatment which is a consequence of an accident, others also offer reimbursement for it as a result of illness.
Owning a pet brings a lot of joy! You definitely want your pet to have a long, happy and healthy life. It is almost inevitable that your pet will need veterinary treatment at some point.
If you are like most pet owners, there is nothing you wouldn’t do for your pet when it is sick or injured. Hospitalization or a visit to a veterinarian’s office is justified, but can also be very expensive.
Would you even consider whether to pay $3,000 for the operation, when your pet is already on the table?
And what if you don’t have $3,000?
What would you do?
Is pet insurance worth buying?
There is no simple answer, and each animal owner is different. You can pay several thousand dollars for one of the best pet life insurance policies and never use it. Of course, the same can be said for home or car insurance. The basic principle of pet insurance is the same as for any type of insurance – to transfer financial risk that we cannot afford.
Return on investment
According to a study by Consumer Reports in the US, pet insurance is probably not worth buying if you use it only during regular visits to animal wellness facilities.
If your pet has never suffered from a serious disease and has not suffered a serious injury, it would be better to pay for the veterinary visits out of your own pocket. Given this, you never know if you will need such a policy.
In the same study, consumer reports showed that in many situations requiring serious emergency treatment, where the cost exceeds $8,000, pet insurance is a good return on investment. When the costs are $3000 or less, your pet insurance is still profitable.
Dog treatment costs
Most owners are willing to cover the cost of periodic visits to the vet along with x-rays. However, sudden surgery involving the removal of a foreign object from the stomach, which is a typical situation for dogs, can cost over $1,500.
If your dog eats toxic plant leaves, emergency treatment (including several days in the intensive care unit, drugs and intravenous fluids) can cost over $3,000.
If your pet clumsily jumps off the couch and sprains an ankle, you can pay over $2,000 for the surgery to fix it. Cancer treatment can reach over $6,000.
Why do you even buy insurance for something?
The question you need to ask yourself is – would I be willing and able to spend over $4,000 to save my pet in a life-threatening situation? If you answer YES, pet insurance can be a good investment. This would provide the safety cushion you need for such a big expense.
If you have no money but are willing to indebt yourself to save your pet’s life, dog insurance may be a better alternative. Either way, you shouldn’t expect big pay unless your pet is seriously ill or injured.
Remember, however, that you will receive emotional support and peace of mind knowing that you will be able to look after your pet.
Pet insurance – summary
With any type of insurance, years of paying premiums suddenly become worth it when as a disaster strikes. If you never have to use pet insurance, you may consider yourself lucky. However, animals now live longer too and the chance of experiencing a serious illness or injury increases with age.
If you treat animal insurance as a protection against a catastrophic financial loss, the best solution is to choose a reasonable premium you can afford.