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What is Pet Insurance?

By Colleen Williams
May 25, 2016 • 2 min. read
What is Pet Insurance?

What is Pet Insurance?Our pets are part of the family, and we want to keep them healthy, happy, and safe. But sometimes it’s impossible to protect them from an accident or illness, and with the rising cost of veterinary care, bills can quickly add up to thousands of dollars. Many pet parents are not in a position to cover these unexpected costs—that’s where pet insurance comes in.

Pet insurance is for those unexpected mishaps, catastrophes and illnesses that you just can’t plan for—like when the dog accidentally eats something he shouldn’t. Bottom line: if you have pet insurance, you could be reimbursed for up to 90% of your vet bills.

Who Is It For?

Is your cat in the family photos? Does your dog sleep in bed with you? If you answered ‘yes’ to either of these questions, it’s safe to assume you consider your pet a member of the family. You should probably consider pet insurance.

What’s Covered?

Different companies offer different types of coverage. Some variables to watch out for:

  • Deductible—The amount you’re responsible for before benefits kick in. Deductibles can be annual or per incident (annual is usually recommended).
  • Reimbursement Level—The percentage of the remaining cost (after the deductible) you can expect the insurance company to cover. You can typically choose from 70%, 80%, or 90% reimbursement levels, with higher reimbursement levels resulting in a more expensive monthly premium.
  • Limits on Benefits—Look for companies that have no annual or lifetime limits on the dollar amount they will pay to cover your vet bills. If your pet suffers a serious injury or illness, you’ll be glad your coverage doesn’t top out.
  • Coverage Exclusions—Look for companies that cover all accidents and illnesses, including genetic and hereditary conditions, and do not exclude conditions based on breed.

What’s Not Covered:

Most policies don’t cover wellness care (those annual trips to the vet for an exam and necessary vaccines). Some companies do offer wellness care, but often the cost can be as much as, or more than, paying the vet directly for those services. For most people, pet insurance is best for unplanned, unexpected accidents and illnesses.

It is important to note that no policy covers pre-existing conditions. Don’t wait until your pet has an unexpected trip to the vet to consider pet insurance.

What to Look For:

  • A policy that allows you to use any vet. Pet insurance differs from human health insurance in that you typically you pay the vet directly and get reimbursed by the insurance company.
  • Pet insurance that reimburses you based on the actual vet bill, as opposed to a benefit schedule that only reimburses you based on what is considered the “ordinary” cost of a procedure.
  • An easy claims process. Healthy Paws has an app for iPhone and Android that allows pet parents to snap a photo of their vet bill and submit that as their claim—no forms to fill out, mail, or fax.

For an unbiased look at pet insurance, check out this recent Consumer Reports article, Is Pet Insurance Worth the Cost?. If you’re ready to explore plans, start with a free quote from Healthy Paws.

colleen williams
By Colleen Williams

Over the past decade, Colleen has written about health, wellness, beauty, and even pets for The New York Times, The Cut, Refinery29, xoVain, Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, and Seattle Met Magazine, as well as many beauty brands. She has a BFA in Art History from the University of New Mexico and an AAS in Fashion Design from Parsons School of Design in New York.

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