Keeping your closest companions safe from illness and injury
Few things make us feel as good as our pets do, and the statistics prove it. A National Pet Owners survey reveals that 85 million American families own a pet. A massive 91% of owners consider them part of the family. The actual pet insurance (PI) figures aren’t quite so cute. While millions of people don’t think twice about car insurance, only around 1.6 million animals are covered by their owners. With the cost of vet care rising fast, let’s review why PI is as important as any other kind.
How policies work for your pets
It’s surprising to consider that the first PI policy in the United States was only taken out in 1982! Perhaps it’s the relative novelty that has so few taking advantage of its benefits. Maybe it’s the fact that PI isn’t like human insurance. When you visit a vet, you’ll have to pay the full cost of treatment up front and then submit a claim to your PI provider, which in reality is a really flexible system (you can use any licensed vet because there’s no network of insurance providers in place).
The more likely reason is that people view it as too complicated or expensive. It’s just a matter of finding out which option suits you best.
Coverage against accidents
With every household posing dangers for pets and millions of animals injured in road accidents every year, this form of PI offers some peace of mind against domestic and driving trouble. While household chemicals and other toxic ingestible matter are obvious hazards, did you know that such seemingly innocent stuff as coffee, tea or chocolate could be a disaster for your pet? They’re curious creatures (especially the cats) so having accident insurance in place may be very prudent.
Accident insurance will also cover your pet against such injuries as cuts, broken bones, bite wounds, swallowed objects and car accidents. You should also find out if your PI will cover you if your pet is the cause of an accident. Your beloved pooch may run riot on a lawn or even attack another person. Accident insurance is not illness insurance, however.
Coverage against illness
If you want to protect your pet from everything from an ear infection to more life-threatening conditions, then illness coverage is for you. Be aware that a pre-existing condition will make getting this coverage impossible, so it’s better to take it out as soon as you can. Some breeds of animal may be pre-disposed to certain illnesses simply through genetics. If that’s your pet, they should still be eligible for illness coverage as long as it’s in place before any symptoms show up. If the pre-existing condition is curable, some PI providers may take your pet on with some provisions.
Comprehensive PI coverage
Like the name says, this will protect your pet from a wealth of potential dangers. Accident, illness even basic stuff like a tooth brushing or routine vet visits can be covered. It’s the most expensive option but will cover much more in return.
Reimbursement, co-pay, and deductibles
As we covered at the start, you’ll be reimbursed for your vet expenses after you pay first then file your claim (reimbursement is usually a quick process). Exactly how much reimbursement you receive will depend on how high your premiums are. Deductibles on your PI usually cover your bill first and may be dependent on your pet’s condition.
PI deductibles are typically paid either on an annual (which is different from lifetime) or incidental basis. Annuals are often best if your pet has an ongoing condition, at least in the first few years. As the years go by, the costs may be more manageable on an incidental basis. The numbers will depend on your own unique factors. The co-pay parts of your pet bill will of course be divided between you and your PI provider when you’ve reached the limit of your deductible.
To really be savvy about insurance, you have to be aware of the risks. You may be in the habit of taking out travel insurance for humans but pets can need it every bit as much. For them, travel can be a risky time. It’s important that owners recognize the dangers and plan accordingly.
A vital safety tip for travelling with your pet – if you ever have one in your vehicle, always be aware of the dangers to everyone on board if your pet is unrestrained during the trip.
In addition, dental insurance is covered under some policies and not others and may be required as additional coverage. Consult with you PI provider to see whether or not you can insure your pet for travel and dental.
Ready to insure your pet?
If you’re in the market for PI, it’s best to shop around and see which providers appeal to you. You can click here for an up-to-date number from the Top Three dog and cat insurers. Remember to ask key questions such as if your premiums will increase as your pet gets older, if where you live matters, how species and breed affect the policy, or if premiums will go up if your pet requires treatment fairly often.
When it comes to any form of life and health insurance you should always speak to an insurance professional you can trust. Not only will it avoid exploitation of your worries, you’ll receive the right plan to fit your (or your pet’s) unique needs.
Avante Insurance is a South Florida family owned and operated insurance agency providing an array of insurance services to meet the individual needs of our customers. If you need any information on insurance, you can call us at 305-648-7070, request an insurance quote or contact us with any questions or comments.