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What is Pet Insurance and Do I Need It?

Man with his dog

If you have a pet, you may want to consider pet insurance. Without it, you may be faced with a large vet bill or a tough decision. Pet insurance is a health insurance policy for your pet. It is available for dogs, cats, exotic birds, ferrets, rabbits, potbelly pigs, reptiles, and certain rodents. As with health insurance for people, you pay a premium in exchange for coverage. You may also have an annual deductible, co-pays, and caps.

Are There Different Types of Pet Insurance?

There are three basic levels of pet health insurance:

  • Basic coverage: This is the least expensive type of pet insurance. It helps cover illnesses, accidental injuries, and poisoning, but it provides the lowest reimbursement for procedures. Typically, a basic coverage policy comes with an annual deductible and places caps on reimbursement for each accident or illness, as well as a cap on total reimbursement for the policy period.
  • Comprehensive coverage: Although it costs more than basic coverage, comprehensive coverage
    provides more benefits. It covers accidental injuries, illnesses, emergencies, office visits, diagnostics, lab fees, X-rays, and prescriptions. Annual deductibles are generally lower than with basic coverage, but reimbursement is capped per accident or illness and for the policy term.

  • Well care protection: Pet well care protection reimburses owners for preventative care with no
    annual deductible for well care. It covers exams, vaccinations, flea prevention, and heartworm prevention. There may be a small deductible for medical services other than well care.

If you choose low deductible pet insurance with a high reimbursement level and high annual maximum, you will pay less in out-of-pocket medical costs per incident, but your monthly premiums will be higher. Most plans will allow you to purchase endorsements to enhance your coverage, for example to cover exam fees or checkups, but this will also increase your premiums.

What Affects the Cost of Pet Insurance?

In addition to the level of pet insurance you purchase, various factors can affect your premiums. These may include:

  • Species and gender: Dogs are more expensive to insure than cats. Insurance companies
    generally charge higher premiums for male animals.

  • Breed: Because they have more health issues and shorter life spans, larger breeds are more
    costly to insure. Some insurers may not cover certain breeds that are prone to hereditary conditions such as hip dysplasia.

  • Age: Generally, older animals cost more to insure than younger animals. Some insurance companies set age limits.
  • Location: Pet health insurance premiums can vary, depending on where you live. Costs tend to
    be higher in more densely populated areas.

What Is Not Covered by Pet Insurance?

Although standard pet insurance will cover most accidents and illnesses, there may be some exclusions with both basic and comprehensive coverage, which may include:

  • Pre-existing or hereditary conditions
  • Dental disease
  • Behavioral issues
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Preventative care
  • Routine checkups
  • Grooming

If you are considering pet insurance, speak with our friendly agent. We can help you find the health insurance coverage you need for your pet at a rate you can afford.

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