Our pets are part of our family, and we want to give them the best of everything. From food to toys, even outfits, our pets are often a reflection of who we are as humans. Unfortunately, just as with other members of the family, sometimes emergency medical care is needed.
This can create a tough situation for a great many pet owners. If we are forced to make decisions for medical care for pets on a “what can be afforded right now” basis, many owners can be put in an excruciating position.
Pet insurance can often eliminate this financial strain or significantly reduce the impact of emergency veterinary care. Choosing the top pet insurance, however, can sometimes be challenging with the number of options out there. These tips should help you evaluate a potential pet insurance provider.
Start with a general comparison
Before committing any research time to anything, make a general, high-level comparison of the popular providers. You can often get the top 6 to 10 companies nationally with a few simple internet searches. Set these all on equal footing and compare them side-by-side to see which ones are options and which aren’t.
Some companies will not offer what you’re looking for. Some may advertise rates that are well outside of your range. This high-level review should give you a few potential insurers based on your needs for premiums, plans, deductibles, copays, and more.
What’s the buzz?
If you have narrowed it down to a top 3 or less, it’s time to get more severe research done. Start scouring the internet for any information, good or bad, that you can find about your potential insurers. It’s essential to look at both good and bad information to help avoid confirmation bias.
Be sure to look at platforms that do not allow companies to remove unfavorable reviews. Look back several years as well, so that you have a well-rounded picture of their company’s overall health. If you choose an insurer that is extremely new, make sure there is plenty of positive feedback regarding the claims process.
Get coverage specifics
After you’ve narrowed down your search even further, you will need to start exploring the coverage. It sounds counterproductive, but many insurance companies have policies in place that limit the help you can get for hereditary, congenital, or pre-existing. Find out as much as you can about these limits.
Some providers may even have restrictions regarding the coverage levels available for specific breeds. Be sure that your pet will be covered, and if your furry friend tends to need coverage, be sure multiple claims in a year won’t affect your premiums.
This may even necessitate a conversation with your vet. Occasionally they will have found success with working with specific insurers regarding specific breeds or conditions. Their input can be invaluable.
Evaluate plans and reimbursement options
Once you know what will be covered in any number of situations with your specific pets, it’s going to be time to make some more structured decisions. You will need to start looking at the specific plan options and reimbursement types your potential insurer offers.
Some plans may cover regular visits for routine care, often called wellness visits, while some may not cover them or may require a copay. Others may only cover emergency care costs, like after-hours clinic visits, sudden hospitalization, and more, while some may have limited coverage for unexpected expenses. Some complete care plans will cover both types of costs to a large extent.
The reimbursement options will frequently be limited to two choices. Some plans cover percentages of allowed expenses beyond set annual deductibles. Some plans use a benefit schedule of allowances, detailing everything covered and the reimbursement amount for each.
Check for potential discounts and review your cost
Be sure you take advantage of discounts, like those for multiple pet families and more. Then review your total cost, both annually and monthly, and weigh that against the benefits. If the benefits don’t significantly outweigh the price, you should keep looking for another plan.
Enroll in pet insurance
When you find a great plan with affordable premiums and excellent coverage and benefits, the only thing left to do is enroll. Enroll your pets as young and as healthy as possible to take advantage of low rates, and set them up for a lifetime of good health.