Your dog is a part of your family and, as with your other family members, you may decide that the best way to keep him or her healthy is to invest in pet health insurance.
Although only a small minority of dogs in the U.S. are currently insured by their pack leaders, pet health insurance is becoming an increasingly popular option for people who don’t want to face the tough decision of either paying a steep medical bill out of pocket or euthanizing their beloved canine companion.
There are currently eleven major companies that offer dog insurance, and most of them have different levels of coverage with different caps and premiums. What that means for you as a Pack Leader is that you’ll have to do your research to find the policy that best meets the needs of you and your dog.
Here are a few of the things that you’ll need to take into consideration.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Dog Insurance
Just like with human health insurance, plans with a higher deductible will cost you less in monthly payments, but they will also require you to cover more of your own vet bill if your dog needs an expensive treatment or surgery. You’ll need to determine just how much you can afford to pay out-of-pocket if something serious should happen.
If your dog already has a diagnosed health issue, this is considered a pre-existing condition and, unfortunately, is not currently covered by any major health insurance provider. Even if your dog does not have a pre-existing condition, you should read through the available policies carefully, because some insurers will not continue to provide coverage if your dog develops a condition and the policy lapses.
Read the fine print carefully. Some policies will not cover dogs who are over a certain age, or explicitly state that their coverage will be cancelled if you don’t keep up with your dog’s vaccinations. Be sure you understand the conditions of the policy, and look for insurers who offer lifetime coverage.
Veterinarian and treatment choices
Some plans will have benefit schedules, which will limit from whom your dog can receive treatment and what kind of treatment they will receive — for example, some plans don’t cover alternative treatments like acupuncture. Look for policies that offer you more freedom, including the option to visit any licensed vet, an emergency clinic, or veterinary specialists.
How to find the best dog insurance policy
There’s no one dog insurance policy that is the best for everyone. Rather, the best policy will depend on your dog’s needs and your budget. In order to find the ideal policy, you should:
Do your research
Don’t just go with the first pet insurer you hear about. Take the time to read up on different insurers, comparing their policies and premiums along the way. You should also look for insurers that have a good reputation for customer service, a fast claims processing time, and fast reimbursement.
Make sure the pet insurer is registered with your state
It’s important with any pet insurer — especially the smaller ones that you may not have heard of — to confirm that they are registered to operate in your state.
Consider your dog’s breed and any exclusions in the policy
If your dog belongs to a breed that has a history of certain medical conditions, such as hip dysplasia, read over pet insurance policies carefully to make sure a condition that your dog may someday face isn’t excluded.
Ask your vet for recommendations
Your vet most likely sees other patients who are covered by pet insurance and can recommend insurers to you based on personal experience.
While some pack leaders decide that they’d rather pay their vet bills out-of-pocket instead of paying a monthly premium for pet insurance, others believe that the coverage is well worth the peace of mind they get from knowing their pet’s medical expenses will be covered. If you’re in the latter group, take the time to familiarize yourself with different policies to find the best fit for you and your canine family member.