The advancement in pet medical care and the rising demand for treatment, poses a financial challenge for loving pet parents. Large veterinarian hospitals and specialty clinics provide a range of advanced treatment options—everything from neurological services to orthopedic surgery— but it can come at a steep price.
Enter pet insurance. Pet insurance provides coverage—up to 100% of veterinary medical costs—for unexpected accidents, injuries and illnesses. For a small monthly premium, pet parents are empowered to make care-based rather than cost-based health care decisions.
As pet insurance has grown in recognition, people wonder: “Is pet insurance worth the cost?” There’s a mixture of information—customer feedback, industry reports, pet insurance reviews, etc.—available online. In my research, I uncovered seven common pet insurance myths discussed below.
1. It’s too expensive.
More pets are being saved by advanced healthcare treatments, and that care can be quite costly. For example: The average cost of care for a dog with hip dysplasia is $7,000. Pet insurance reimburses you for out-of-pocket costs related to unexpected pet injuries and illnesses.
2. It doesn’t cover wellness or preventative medicine.
Most companies do not cover wellness or preventative care in their core insurance product without charging extra. Wellness plans generally cost an extra $20 or more per month, and the total payout is usually capped. (In some instances, the cap is set at $260.) Wellness and preventative care can easily be budgeted each year, while pet insurance is meant to mitigate the treatment costs associated with unexpected injuries and illnesses.
3. The claims process is cumbersome.
The ease of submitting claims depends on the pet insurance company. Some companies require your veterinarian to fill out a claim form, while others provide self-serve options, like paperless claim submission via mobile device. Regardless, it’s worth researching to match your claim filing expectations before choosing the right pet insurer.
4. My dog is young and healthy. He doesn’t need insurance.
Young pets have the most unexpected accidents! They eat dangerous things and run around inside and out. Many claims over $1,000 are the result of young pets injuring themselves (ex. eating harmful objects, jumping off furniture, etc.). Insuring your pet while they are young is the perfect time, as they are the least likely to have pre-existing conditions.
5. Access to veterinarians is limited.
Some companies may limit your access to veterinarians or may require treatment be performed at specific hospitals. Other pet insurance companies differ from human insurance in that they do not limit coverage to a network of providers--allowing you to take your pet to any licensed veterinarian, emergency or specialty hospital. Certain insurers may even extend their coverage to cover licensed veterinarians in other countries, making travel with your pet less worrisome.
6. I can save money for emergency care. (I can self-insure.)
Self-insuring is risky because you need enough time to save and build up a pet fund—but what happens if your pet gets sick before you are able to save enough money? For example, your new puppy may eat a sock next month, requiring $3,000 in veterinary care. The unexpected nature of such injuries and illnesses may find you with little-to-no savings to cover necessary treatment expenses.
Note: Interactive calculators allow you to estimate how much you would pay out-of-pocket for common pet medical issues with and without insurance.
7. There aren’t many options for pets with pre-existing conditions.
As mentioned earlier, pet insurers do not cover pre-existing conditions. This being said, any new conditions that arise in the future—broken limb, cancer, etc.—may be covered, so you can still benefit from purchasing a policy. Not all prior conditions are considered chronic, and some pet insurance companies have a time-frame after which curable conditions may again be covered. If your pet is, or has been sick or injured previously, and you are looking for pet insurance coverage, ask the insurer whether there is a timeframe for previous, non-chronic conditions.
Taking the next step.
Be sure to research all pet insurance products—including customer reviews—before making a decision. Keep in mind, some pet insurance review websites accept membership fees from providers in exchange for placement on their site.
Also, it is important to read the contract terms thoroughly. Epetsure.com offers a useful guide to understanding pet insurance contract language. Often dissatisfaction with pet insurance stems from misaligned expectations or misunderstanding of contract language, so it’s important to do your research and get the true pet insurance facts to find an insurer that meets your needs.
Stephanie N. Blahut is the Director of Marketing for Figo Pet Insurance. Figo is committed to helping pets and their families enjoy their lives together by fusing innovative technology--the first-of-its-kind Figo Pet Cloud--and the industry’s best pet insurance plans.
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