If you’ve ever had your pet experience a major medical emergency, you’re all too aware of the cost of an emergency veterinary visit, especially if it involved a surgery. Not many people have thousands of dollars sitting in their savings account to cover something like this, and many pets end up being euthanized because their owners can’t finance a $2000 vet bill on a Sunday night. It would be nice to have insurance that would cover these emergency visits, and there is pet insurance! While it won’t help you during an emergency when you don’t have a policy, it can be a literal lifesaver down the road. With monthly premiums and payment caps, is an insurance policy for your dog worth it?
Weigh the Monthly Cost of Insurance: Is It Worth It If You Never Have an Emergency?
How much you pay every month to have your pet covered depends on how much the deductible is, your dog’s age, and their overall health. Like human insurance, it can be more expensive if your dog is older or has some sort of medical condition. Some insurance companies deny coverage because they have a progressive condition like hip dysplasia. If you pay $50 a month for insurance on the off chance you dog might need an expensive surgery, but it never happens, you’ve spent thousands of dollars over their lifetime on almost nothing. Are you willing to spend that to have a possible emergency situation covered, or can you completely cover the emergency when it occurs?
Read the Policy!
Not thoroughly reading and understanding your policy is the single biggest mistake you can make. Canine insurance policies have limits on how much the company covers and what they cover. Most companies don’t cover congenital or hereditary conditions, and others won’t cover your dog if they have a preexisting condition like diabetes or kidney disease. Some things you need to ask are:
What percentage of the bill does the company pay after the deductible? It’s unlikely any company will cover it 100%.
Are there payment caps? Will they cover 70% of a procedure with a $3000 cap? If your dog has a $6500 abdominal surgery and hospitalization, you’d only have $3000 paid versus $4500 (70%) because of that cap.
Do they pay for chronic or recurring problems?
Does it cover medications?
Is your dog covered if you travel out of state?
Know When the Insurance Company Pays!
So many owners think that because they have insurance, that the initial out of pocket costs are going to be what the insurance doesn’t cover. This is rarely true. Most insurance companies reimburse you after you’ve submitted your claim and they’ve approved it. Remember that pet insurance isn’t like human insurance. Human doctors bill your insurance company. Veterinarians don’t bill your dog’s insurance; it’s your job to submit the paperwork to the insurance company, and your vet wants payment before your pet is discharged. They won’t wait until the insurance company decides to pay out because the insurance claim could be denied.
Most people pay for pet insurance because they don’t have thousands of dollars to throw around, but they’re shocked when they have to even with insurance. If you buy insurance, find out what the company’s claim process is. There are many stories of people waiting months for reimbursement because the company fought with them about whether a procedure, medication, or hospitalization was necessary.
Does the Company Cover Medical Care from Your Vet?
There are some companies that don’t cover certain veterinarians. For example, there’s an insurance company that won’t cover a surgery done at a hospital that isn’t part of the AVMA. It’s unlikely your vet knows much about pet insurance, so this is information you need to know before you have a veterinary emergency. Clarify with your insurance company if your primary vet’s care is covered, and it’s a good idea to make sure they cover care at your local emergency vet, too.
Pet insurance is helpful in some cases, and in others, your pet was healthy for their entire life` and it was “wasted” money every month. Deciding if pet insurance is right for you depends completely on your personal finances.