Generally, shopping for pet health insurance is easier than shopping for your own health coverage. Still, there are many similarities when it comes to choosing a provider, comparing coverage options, and finding a policy you can afford. Finding the best coverage depends on your pet’s health needs, your financial situation, and the convenience the plan can offer.
Determine whether pet health insurance is the best financial option. Paying for pet insurance might be more expensive than covering pet health care costs out of pocket. This is especially true if your pet is young, has no diseases, and needs only annual vet visits. Having a policy for emergency care is convenient, but usually emergency care isn’t frequent enough to offset the costs of an insurance policy. On the other hand, if your pet is older, has an illness or is prone to poor health, or needs to see a veterinarian more than once a year, it might make more financial sense to purchase pet health coverage.
Compare a variety of pet health insurance providers. You want an insurance company with a good reputation as well as one that is likely to be around for a while. Gather this information by checking with organizations in your region that provide unbiased reviews of businesses. For example, in the United States and Canada, customers can refer to the Better Business Bureau. Also talk with other pet owners about their experiences with certain pet health insurance companies, and ask your current veterinarian if he can recommend any providers.
Learn about the kinds of pet health coverage each policy offers. If your pet has a pre-existing condition, look for policies that not only cover pre-existing conditions but also cover that specific condition. Ask about illnesses common to your kind of pet, too. For example, you might want a dog health insurance plan that covers cancer treatment, or a cat health insurance plan that provides coverage for feline leukemia care. Also find out about coverage beyond veterinarian appointments, such as coverage for medications and other medical supplies.
Find out if the pet health insurance plan covers your veterinarian. Similar to human insurance plans, pet insurance plans might provide coverage only if you take your pet to a certain veterinarian. If you already have a relationship with a veterinarian, make sure he is included in the plan’s network of care providers before purchasing that plan. Otherwise, you must be willing to choose a veterinarian from the network. It’s also wise to look for veterinarians away from home if you travel a lot and bring your pet.
Once you narrow your pet health insurance policy options to one or two that meet your pet’s needs, you can compare insurance premiums as well as options for deductibles, co-pays, and discounts. Many of the same money-saving strategies for human health insurance are applicable to pet health insurance costs, too. For example, choosing a higher deductible can help lower your premiums. Paying your premiums in one or two lump sums throughout the year, rather than smaller payments each month, could get you a discount. Also, if you already do business with an insurance provider that also sells pet health coverage, that company might offer a discount for purchasing another line of insurance.