Is Pet Insurance Necessary

Pet Travel Center

In this day and age, it’s hard to go places without seeing insurance companies advertising. Some people celebrate insurance as an easy way to get your pet the care they need, but is it absolutely necessary? In short, it’s not something you have to have. But in many cases, it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it—as long as you can afford the premiums.

What you need to know

Pet insurance has come a long way from its early origins. Rather than a single option, you can have preventative care packages included in your insurance plan. If your pet has a catastrophic illness or needs emergency surgery, the costs can add up quickly.

Depending on your deductible and plan requirements, you may have significant cost savings by having pet insurance.

When you have pet insurance, you generally have to pay out of pocket for the treatment that your pet needs rather than the insurance paying directly for it. Then you submit the invoice, and your veterinarian may need to sign off on some paperwork such as outlining the diagnosis. After that, you get reimbursed, less your deductible. So while you’re still having to pay for the treatment, you will usually get paid back quickly. 

Many pet insurance companies have greatly lifted the restrictions that they put on pet owners before, but you’ll still want to read the fine print carefully. Pre-existing conditions may not be covered, and your veterinarian may be asked to submit all of your pet’s medical history before they agree to cover your pet. At one point, many popular breeds had specific breed-exclusions, such as heart disease in Boxers, but in most instances, that’s no longer the case. 

Get your cat checked at the vet for pre-existing conditions to underst and what pet insurance is necessary.
Get your cat checked for pre-existing conditions to underst and what pet insurance is necessary.

Considerations with Pet Insurance

There are a few things you need to discuss with your potential pet insurance companies. Your veterinarian may have recommendations on groups that they have good experience with or even partnered with—so that’s a great option to consider. 

First, find out if pre-existing conditions will be covered. For example, if your pet has torn an ACL—also known as a cruciate ligament—, they may require X-rays, surgery, and even follow-up rehabilitation. Many pets are also going to develop arthritis secondary to the injury. Another consideration is that many pets who have torn one ACL will tear the opposite ACL within a few years. 

Consult with the company to find out what the limits of your insurance plan will be.

In the case of ACL surgery, the procedure and follow-up care may cost thous ands of dollars, and you’ll want to make sure all of that will be covered, minus your deductible and other charges. 

You will need to know the process for getting reimbursed, as well as the time frame the insurance company plans to repay you. Many companies are moving towards electronic claims filing, where you fill out all of the paperwork online, but you’ll need to know if your veterinarian will have to provide anything other than the invoice. Some companies require copies of all notes and lab tests, as well as a diagnosis or condition. 

Alternatives to Pet Insurance

Before you shell out money for pet insurance, you should look at all of your options. Talk to your veterinarian about payment plans well in advance of a crisis, so you know what to expect. While many hospitals don’t offer payment plans, there are some non-insurance coverage options, such as Care Credit or Scratch Pay. You can apply for these to help cover the cost of treatment and care and pay the company back over a set period of time.

For wellness preventative care, many companies are moving towards preventative care packages. With these, you generally pay a set amount per month or year, and certain services are included. Depending on the hospital or package, you may get a heartworm test, intestinal parasite exam, and vaccines, all for a set— and often discounted—monthly price. 

When you’re looking into the best care for your pet, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the options. While you consider your options, you should also consult your homeowner’s or renter’s policy: many can be amended to include pet care at an additional cost per month and take the hassle out of making a decision. 

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