Keeping tails wagging and cats purring can come with many challenges, not the least of which is veterinary care. We all want our beloved pets to have healthy, long lives, which makes trips to the vet’s office — and the ensuing bills — unavoidable. However, there is a way to ease the burden and give the power to the pets (and their people).
Pet insurance is a means of easing healthcare costs, whether you have a new puppy, senior cat, or a multi-pet household. Pet medical coverage can help you financially plan for unexpected trips and emergency visits, providing extra peace of mind.
We won't lie, veterinary care can be expensive. In recent years, pet healthcare has grown to an over $10 billion dollar industry annually, and billions more are spent on supplies and over-the-counter medicines. From torn ACLs to cancer, the costs of diagnostics, surgery, and specialty care for your pet can add up fast. We never want someone to have to choose between their beloved pets and their savings.
Hello, pet insurance! What specifically is it and how can it assist with such costs? We often find that it's easiest to compare it to something that most adults have some experience with - human health insurance. That's why we're breaking down the similarities and differences between pet insurance and human insurance, as well as what it can do for you and your dog or cat.
How does pet insurance work?
To begin, it’s important to know that pet insurance is not the same as your own health insurance. While there are some similarities, pet insurance actually works more comparably to car insurance and is based on owner reimbursement. While that may sound confusing, this model helps to relieve the frustration and drama commonly associated with human healthcare plans.
Though plans vary, a common distinction between pet and human insurance is there are no networks or approved providers to limit care. With pet insurance, you can visit basically any licensed veterinarian clinic, emergency animal hospital, or specialist in the United States. And to take it a step further, Figo policyholders (underwritten by IAIC) can visit any licensed vet clinic, animal hospital, or specialist, worldwide! We know our pet parents are mobile, and they want protection that follows them, no matter where they roam.
So how do you get reimbursed for care? At the end of a vet visit, you pay the bill as usual. Afterward, you can send in your claim with the invoice and vet notes. The insurance provider should then send back reimbursement. At Figo, most claims are closed in an average of only 2.6 days! It’s that simple. Of course, not every provider is the same, so it’s vital to carefully weigh the options before choosing a plan.
Key differences between pet insurance and human health insurance
There are a few essential differences that are important to understand. First, while Figo considers pets to be intelligent, emotional, sentient beings with rich lives all their own, pets are considered to be a person’s property under the law. This is what makes pet insurance comparable to car or home insurance, as it covers unexpected injuries and “damages” to the animal. Consequently, most plans may not cover routine care, instead being intended for emergencies or costly, unanticipated situations.
At Figo, we do things a little differently. Pets may be "property" by law, but in reality, they are so much more than that. They provide us with emotional support, unconditional love, and are playful spirits when allowed. They enrich our lives so deeply, we should return the favor by keeping them as happy and healthy as possible. That's why Figo offers our Wellness Powerup for all plans. In essence, we want you to get money back to help pay for preventative care. It's just responsible pet parenting.
Another big difference is that owners are not limited to specific networks or companies with pet insurance. Coverage is not as restricted as it is with humans, making it easier to select the best fit for your needs. Similarly, there are no pre-authorizations. Since there are no HMOs (a type of healthcare plan that limits coverage to care from doctors only within specific organizations), medical decisions are up to the vet and the owner, not the insurance company.
Payments and claims
While it can vary depending on the clinic, it’s usually expected for animal medical payments to be made in full and up-front. This means it may not go through insurance initially, and therefore it is on the owner to pay and then submit a claim form. This is why the speed of claims is so important when choosing a pet insurance company - you don't want to be waiting for months, for most claims, just to be reimbursed for important and expensive procedures.
The final big difference between human and pet insurance involves pre-existing conditions. In the past, humans could be denied coverage due to certain ailments or illnesses. In recent years, progress has been made to make insurance more accessible. However, pet insurers can still (and often do) deny coverage for certain conditions that showed signs or symptoms before policy purchase. At Figo, we may cover pre-existing conditions deemed "curable". For more information on curable pre-existing conditions, please contact our experts via customer experience.
Protecting all members of the family
The joy that pets bring to our lives is priceless. Advancements in care have extended and improved the lives of our cherished four-legged friends like never before, but these innovative treatment options can come at a steep price.
Consider pet insurance to not only provide a safety net in times of trouble but to ease the burden of hard financial decisions.
For more information
Please visit our page on pet insurance or our frequently asked questions page for more information. If you want to know more about the insurance options we offer, our helpful experts are just a click away! Our friends at Canine Journal also have some additional resources showing the benefits of pet insurance including graphics that explain how it works.
Lizz Caputo is a Content Strategist at Figo, animal enthusiast, and owner of a rescued senior American Bully. Her hobbies include checking out new restaurants in her area, boxing, and petting dogs of all shapes and sizes.