Comprehensive coverage for pet care

As treatment options for our pets’ health broaden, as to the costs associated with caring for an animal. Pet insurance options have become more readily available to help mitigate out-of-pocket costs for consumers, which can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars annually. A recent project by analyzed leading pet insurance providers to find which ones truly offer plans that are comprehensive and user-friendly. Here are some of the most important factors they considered when finding what worked the best:

What is pet insurance?

Pet insurance is similar to human health insurance in some ways, though it differs in others. Policies work on a reimbursement model, where the owner will have to pay bills out of pocket and then wait to receive funds in the future to compensate them.

Unlike human insurance, pet insurance does not have a provider network. The reimbursement may be based on one of several maximum payouts:

  • Payout per incident – a limit to the amount of money the policy will reimburse for each new illness or injury. After you hit the cap, there are no more funds to cover that incident.
  • Payout per body system – a limit placed on the coverage for a particular system of the body (nervous, cardiovascular, etc.). After you hit the cap, there are no more funds to cover issues with that particular system.
  • Payout per year – a limit placed on coverage for the year.
  • Payout per lifetime – a limit placed on coverage for the pet’s lifetime.
  • Payout per benefit schedule – a limit based on a cost structure. The provider determines the cost of treating a particular illness, incident or service (typically taking into account the geographical location as well), to determine what they’re willing to reimburse.

Coverage should be comprehensive

There are many options out there for pet insurance, but some plans are more friendly for expensive emergencies and lifelong care than others. If you have an exotic or unusual pet, make sure the coverage applies to them, as smaller animals can be among the most expensive.

  • Look for a “continual” policy: Your policy should cover all of the things that might happen to your pet throughout their life. So in addition to sickness and injury reimbursement, it should also cover chronic and hereditary conditions. Coverage should be continual — if its not, then coverage will disappear when the policy year rolls over even if the condition does not 
  • Choose a reimbursement model that fits your pet: All coverage is capped to a certain extent, but some are more limiting than others. What if your animal is in a serious accident requiring extensive care at the beginning of the coverage year? An annual plan will quickly be used up, leaving you to cover a discrepancy. Similarly, per-incident and per-body system may leave you high and dry and may ultimately leave you to decide between caring for your animal and other expenses. Opt for a per-lifetime or per-benefit plan to avoid this situation.

Don’t get hung up on premiums

Unfortunately, the recurring cost of pet insurance is pricey, but insurance premiums are one thing that you don’t want to skimp on. Lower recurring payments typically means less comprehensive care, so avoid skimping on this expense as much as you can. A great policy will save you money in the long run when your animal does end up needing costly care. If you have a policy that takes shortcuts to charge lower premiums, you could be facing a tough situation wherein you have to choose between your animal and paying your other bills.

At the end of the day, the best plan for you will come down to price, coverage, but also your individual pet’s needs. These factors will help point you in the right direction. For more information about choosing a great pet insurance plan, you can read the full article here: