If you're getting ready to bring home a new dog or cat, you probably have a list of items you want to purchase, such as a bed, treats, and toys. While these are all things you'll surely need for your pet, there is something more important that you'll want to add to your list — insurance. Getting coverage for your pet may not be the first thing on your mind when you welcome a new dog or cat into your home, but it really should be. Here’s what you should know about why and when to get pet insurance.
Why get pet insurance?
Did you know that the average cost of emergency surgery for a pet who has been hit by a car or that has swallowed a foreign body is about $1,500 to $3,000 for a cat and $1,800 to $5,000 for a dog? In fact, the average cost of treating a pet with cancer can be $10,000 or more.
It's not just major incidents or emergencies that can drain your wallet. Take allergies, for instance. Many dogs and cats develop allergies, which can cost owners thousands of dollars in veterinarian bills and medication over the lifetime of their pets.
The good news? Pet insurance will typically cover a substantial portion of the bill for these (as well as many other) medical issues.
When to get pet insurance
If you're like many new owners, you probably have many questions about pet insurance. When is the best time to get pet insurance? Should you get pet insurance before going to the vet for the first time, or after? The answer is the sooner you can get insurance for your dog or cat, the better. Here are several reasons that's true:
To avoid having a condition labeled as pre-existing
Insurance companies won't cover pre-existing conditions. So, it's important to insure your pet before he or she can be diagnosed with any medical issues.
Here is an example of why this is true:
Owner A purchases a puppy and insures her immediately. A few weeks later, a veterinarian diagnoses the puppy with allergies. Owner A's insurance policy covers allergies, and so the insurance company will pay for most of the cost of the treatments, medications, and, in some cases, allergy tests.
Owner B also gets a new dog but wasn't sure when to get pet insurance for a puppy. So, Owner B decides to wait a few months before getting a policy. A few weeks later, the puppy begins scratching and having skin issues. Owner B's veterinarian diagnoses the dog with allergies. Now Owner B's puppy has a preexisting condition. So, if Owner B does decide to get pet insurance, the cost of any allergy medications, treatments and tests will not likely be covered.
At Figo, we do cover pre-existing conditions that are considered "curable". For more info on curable conditions, you can read our FAQ here.
In a perfect world, our pets would never get sick or injured. The reality is dogs and cats, especially when they're young, have a way of finding trouble. They'll chew on electrical wires, scarf down a box of chocolates (toxic for dogs), or run into the road and get hit by a car. If you don't have pet insurance, all these situations could result in costly emergency bills.
There is a waiting period
There are few pet insurance companies that will provide immediate coverage; most have a waiting period. Even if a company does not have a waiting period, it will still need to review your pet's medical records before providing coverage, which could take a few days.
In most cases, the waiting period for illness-related claims is about 14 days. For accidents, it's an average of two to three days, but it can be as much as two weeks. In addition, the waiting period for certain conditions — such as hip dysplasia and cruciate ligaments — can range between six and 12 months. So, the sooner you can get your dog or cat through this waiting period and covered with insurance, the better. At Figo, our waiting periods are just 1 day for accidents and 14 days for illness. Nevertheless, it's still smart to get insurance as soon as possible. To learn more about Figo's waiting periods, you can check out our FAQ here.
It costs less to insure a young pet
Because older pets are more likely to develop certain types of medical conditions — such as cancer, glaucoma, or pancreatitis — many insurance companies will not enroll a dog past a certain age. That cutoff age is typically between seven and 14 years. It's also more expensive to insure an older dog. That's why many experts typically recommend that you start insuring your pet when they're still a puppy or a kitten. At Figo, we recognize that older pets are deserving of coverage too! That's why we have no upper age limits. You never know when your dog or cat may need emergency care, and we never want you to choose between your beloved pet and your wallet.
Insurance for reassurance
When your pet is sick or injured, the last thing you want to worry about is whether you can afford to pay for any medical treatment they may need. Having your pet covered by a health insurance policy will allow you to make medical decisions based on what is best for your pet rather than on what you can afford.
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.