So you have a new pup and you’re looking into what pet health insurance to get? Or perhaps you’ve had a dog for a while but are just now learning about pet insurance. Whether you’re a first time pet parent or seasoned dog whisperer, finding the best pet insurance for your dog can feel like a daunting task.
Asking yourself a few simple questions can help provide direction…
What coverage do I want to be sure my dog gets?
How much am I comfortable paying for a premium vs paying for potential vet emergencies?
With these answers in mind, you can start looking into providers and plans.
Compare Pet Insurance Providers
While most pet health insurance providers offer an accident and illness product, what’s included in these base plans and what supplemental coverage options are available varies.
As you look at different providers, make sure you get a good idea of what is included in their coverage options. Some providers don’t cover exam fees and some don’t cover microchipping expenses. Once you get clear on your must-haves, you can easily eliminate providers that don’t have the options you want.
I partnered with SPOT Pet Insurance, and they offer a wide range of inclusions. You can view their side-by-side coverage inclusions for top providers, which can help you get an idea of what’s available.
Routine Wellness Coverage
Routine care coverage is an optional add-on to your base coverage. It provides a lump-sum per year to be used on routine care like vaccines and teeth cleanings and may be referred to as “preventive care,” “wellness care,” or “routine care.” Not all providers have optional preventive care plans and those that do offer it use different models and pricing plans.
Adding this type of coverage helps you to get reimbursed for more than just emergency vet visits, and there is no deductible. It can also be helpful if you have a puppy that is not yet spayed or neutered, as some preventive care packages help cover those costs, too. If you’re interested in adding preventive care,* make sure you view a full list of inclusions and allotments as these vary by provider.
Alternative Treatment Coverage
You also want to consider what type of treatments you may be interested in pursuing if your dog has an illness in the future. If you want to have the option to treat future concerns in your dog with alternative treatments, therapeutic diets or behavioral training, you should scan coverage inclusions as not all providers cover these methods.
Pro Tip: All insurers should have a sample policy you can view on their site that will show and explain exactly what is covered with each type of plan
Number and Age of Pets
Be sure to consider the age of your dog (or dogs) when shopping providers. If you’re looking to insure a senior dog, you’ll need to find an insurer that has no upper age limit. And, if you’re insuring more than one pet, go with an insurance that’s going to give you a discount on the second pet. Many insurers will give a 5% discount on the lower premium, and some companies like SPOT give a 10% discount.
In addition to coverage, what benefits do you get from the insurance provider? For example, some insurers provide customers with access to a 24/7 pet helpline as part of their coverage.
Take a look at pet insurance websites and, of course, reviews, to see if they are providing any other resources or pet health information to customers. I have enjoyed working with SPOT to provide education about maintaining healthy human-dog relationships outside of the vet office, too.
Customize Your Plan
Once you select a provider that suits your needs, you will still have flexibility in plan offerings to help you get the best pet insurance for your dog AND your budget.
Accident and Illness
Consider what type of vet visits you want your base plan to cover. If your dog is generally healthy and you rarely visit the vet for sickness, you might consider an accident-only plan for a lower premium. If your dog is illness prone, exposed to other dogs frequently, or a breed that might develop a hereditary condition, you may get more mileage out of an accident and illness plan.
Like human health insurance, pet health insurance plans have a deductible, annual limit, and reimbursement percent. With many providers, you can customize some or all of these options. In doing so, ask yourself again what your priorities are…
- Are you looking to cover catastrophes only? Choose a high deductible for a lower premium.
- Are you looking to pay less out of pocket on any emergency visits? Choose a high reimbursement rate.
- Is your dog often needing medical attention? Set a higher annual limit.
Adjusting these variables will change your premium, too, and helps you get the best pet insurance for your dog’s needs and for your budget.
Pro Tip: Make sure to look at the deductible model used in your plan. Some companies require you meet your deductible every time you take your pet to the vet, while some only require you meet it annually.
There’s a bit of research that goes into understanding what’s covered and what’s customizable in a pet insurance plan. But when you 1) Get clear on what type of coverage you want 2) Understand which plans best fulfill those needs and 3) Customize your variables, you’ll be on your way to having the best pet insurance for your dog.
And if you’re still not sure where to start, take a look at SPOT. It’s who I trust to protect my pack.
*Preventive care pet insurance coverage is an additional cost on top of the base plan.