DESIGNER BREED REGISTRY
Pet Health Insurance
Some of the pet health insurance companies are not approved in all 50 states, so if you decide to purchase pet health insurance, make sure that the
policy you buy is valid in your state.
The Designer Breed Registry
recommends the following
Questions you may want to ask when looking for pet health insurance
1. Discount plan VS comprehensive insurance plan?
These can differ. With discount fee plans one would pay an annual fee and get discounted veterinarian and related pet services. A pet health insurance plan would
look similar to health insurance for people.
2. Can I choose my veterinarian?
Again, since pet health insurance plans are similar to the one's you and I utilize, different plans have different rules. Check to see if your vet is included as a provider
for the pet insurance you are interested in.
3. What are the waiting periods?
Like all insurance, there may be a waiting period in order for the policy to take effect and it is important to be aware of exactly when your policy starts and ends.
4. What is excluded?
Pet insurance exclusions can vary depending on the policy chosen. Common exclusions are pre-existing conditions and hereditary defects. Coverages for common
exclusions can usually be covered at an additional cost.
5. Will routine wellness care be covered?
If you are looking for a comprehensive policy then you will want to find one that covers routine visits such as immunizations, dental care, and heartworm testing.
6. How about neutering and spaying?
Making sure you are able to control the pet population is important for you and everyone around you. Spaying and neutering coverage is great to have since almost
all pet owners utilize this service.
7. Does it include prescription coverage?
Prescription coverage is just as important since technology and care for pets is increasing, the possibility your pet will need a prescription medication is probable,
and like all prescriptions, they can sometimes be costly.
8. Do I have to pay a deductible?
Just like human insurance, different plans require different deductibles. The deductible is what you pay first before services are rendered so you will want to find a
plan that carries a deductible that is affordable to you. Remember though, that the smaller the deductible the higher the premium.
9. Are there any illness and incident caps?
Usually in pet insurance, there will be variety of "caps" or limits on how much the insurance company will pay for a specific incident. A broken leg may have a
different cap than spaying so be aware of policy limits.
10. Is the company reputable and providing me with all my answers?
Make sure you feel comfortable with the company you are interested in. Since they will be handling your claims, it is important you are choosing a company that is
willing to answer your questions thoroughly, as this will give you insight on how they will handle your future policy. Also, make sure the company is reputable.
Pet health care insurance isn't a new idea -- it has been around for many years, but many people haven't been aware of it until recently in the United States.
Additionally, the availability of pet insurance plans been limited and the policy restrictions have been prohibitive in many cases.
The last few years have seen changes in the pet insurance industry. Some say for the better. Pet owners with insurance are now able to provide levels of care that
previously were cost prohibitive. Others aren't so sure. Some fear that adding insurance to veterinary medicine will follow the path of insurance red tape and
problems found in human health care fields.
Veterinary medicine is one of the few health care professions that is not financially based on insurance. Unlike most medical, surgical, dental, and pharmacy cases in
human medicine, veterinary patients (the owners thereof) are responsible for veterinary costs incurred -- including preventive/routine care, emergency and disease
Pet health policies are similar to human insurance policies; annual premiums, deductibles, and different coverage plans based on what the owner chooses. Plans are
based on species, age, pre-existing conditions and in some cases, lifestyle of the pet.
Most companies start policies at age 6-8 weeks, some have no age limit, and of the others I researched, one had a limit of 27 years, others had a limit of 8 years of
age (if the animal was insured when less than 8 years, coverage would continue beyond 8 years).
As for pre-existing conditions, some companies will allow coverage if the animal is stable or controlled (usually after a waiting period of 3 to 12 months), other
companies will refuse animals with current conditions or terminal disease. Some insurance plans will not cover breeds prone to developing diseases common to the
breed (i.e. hip dysplasia in German Shepherds).
The current overall average for annual deductibles is around $100.00. The policy costs vary widely, depending on the animal and the different packages that the
owner can choose. Some packages are comprehensive, including such things as: annual checkups and vaccinations, routine care, preventive medications (like
Heartworm preventive) and spay/neuter surgeries. Other plans cover only accident and illness. Most plans offer immediate coverage for accident claims, and 30 days
for illness claims on new policies. Additional pets are usually covered at a reduced rate after the first policy-holding pet.
16 More Important Questions To Ask
1) Company Stability
Pet health insurance has been available in the United States for more than 25 years and over the last decade has grown to become a strong, viable industry - but very
few companies have longevity in the market. When researching a pet insurance company, it is important to know how long it has been in business, and if it is
financially stable. What is the rating of the company's underwriter, and how long has it been with that underwriter? Ensure that the statements the company is
making regarding strength and longevity apply to its business in the United States. Some companies are franchise operations from Europe and other parts of the
world, and thus, have far less actual experience doing business in the United States.
2) Certified and Trained Professionals
Does the company have in-depth veterinary knowledge? A quality pet health insurance provider should have thorough knowledge of the veterinary and insurance
industries, and it should have trained veterinary professionals on staff.
3) Veterinary Recognition
Is your veterinarian familiar with the pet health insurance company he/she recommends, and does your veterinary office staff recommend it? Inquire if the person
making the recommendation is receiving financial incentives for suggesting a particular company.
4) No Provider Networks
Policies should allow pet owners to visit any licensed veterinarian and not require them to visit a specific network of hospitals or practitioners.
5) Immediate Coverage on Effective Date
All policy coverage should be available on the effective date of the policy. Some companies delay coverage of illnesses and wellness procedures for an additional
amount of time beyond the effective date.
6) Wellness Coverage
Preventive care is critical to the long-term health of a pet. In order to encourage and remind pet owners to take their pet to the veterinarian on a regular basis, the
company should offer coverage for common preventive treatments and procedures: wellness exams, vaccinations, heartworm protection, spay/neuter, teeth
cleaning, prescription flea control, etc.
7) Broad Coverage for Illnesses
Policies should include coverage for prescription drugs, dental illness and chronic conditions such as allergies and diabetes.
8) Continued Coverage for Chronic Conditions
Does the company consider conditions treated during your pet's policy term to be "pre-existing" upon renewal? Do benefit allowances renew with each new incident
throughout the lifetime of your pet's policy? Is there a lifetime maximum benefit? Companies should continue to cover conditions as long as the policy remains
continuously current, without charging you additional premium.
9) Coverage Away from Home
If your pet is injured while straying away from your home, or is treated by a veterinarian while you are traveling, is this covered? A pet insurance policy should be
effective whether your pet is in your home, at the neighbor's house or accidentally lost. Also, as previously noted, you should be able to visit any licensed
veterinarian anywhere while traveling.
10) Full Transparency Regarding Reimbursements
Does the company use a schedule of payments, such as a benefit schedule, or does it use a usual and customary fee list? It should be clearly communicated to
policyholders which of the two payment programs is being used, what is covered, what benefits are available and how the list is developed.
11) Transparency in Coverage
If the company claims to cover hereditary and congenital conditions, are the benefit limits for these conditions enough to cover treatment? For example, a company
may claim to cover hereditary conditions, but then only offer a $200 lifetime maximum benefit.
12) Physical Exams
How often does the company require physical exams? Some companies, for example, require a physical exam every year in order to maintain coverage.
13) Preauthorization for Treatment
If a condition or treatment is covered under the policy terms, no preauthorization for treatment should be required.
14) Claims Submission
Companies should allow policyholders to fax or mail claims, and there should be a reasonable time limit on submitting claims. If a claim is denied, there should be a
review process in place available to the policyholder.
15) Premium Increases
Premium increases should be based on your pet's age and not on the amount or number of claims filed.
16) Policy Cancellation Penalties
There should be no penalty for canceling your policy, whether because of choice or loss of the pet. Companies should reimburse the policyholder all unearned
16 points were submitted by Veterinary Pet Insurance- full use permission granted.
So what if an insurance policy isn't for your pet? What are the other options?
1.Check with your veterinarian -- some hospitals offer wellness packages, which are discounted prices on vaccinations, spay/neuters, and the like. Some also offer
geriatric health checkup packages. This is definitely worth looking into for preventive health.
2.Check out discount programs such as Pet Assure. This is a national program that offers 25% savings on veterinary services and up to 50% on pet supplies and
services. You must go to participating Veterinarians and pet vendors to take advantage of this. It is not an insurance program.
3.Some humane organizations and non-profit groups offer financial aid to pet owners in need. Also, some veterinary offices keep an 'emergency fund' for pets in an
accident or other emergency situation. This is not an option that one can plan on though -- pet owners should plan on providing their own financial coverage for
Each pet owner will have to evaluate pet health insurance and decide if it is right for their pet(s), but it is definitely becoming something to consider.