10 Pet Insurance Do’s & Don’ts

There’s a lot to think about if you’re buying pet insurance for the first time.  You want two things.  One, to provide the best care for your furry, feathered or scaly friends.  And two, to defray as much of the cost of that care as you can.  Please be sure you consider the following before making your purchase.

Don’t Buy The Cheapest Pet Insurance

Even though you all want to save as much money as you can, buying based on price point alone will cost you cash in the long run.  As with all things in life, you get what you pay for.  If the pet insurance policy you buy costs you only $5 a month you can bet it won’t reimburse you for much of anything at all.  Even if it sounds good in the sales literature, dig deep and look at the exclusions and restrictions in the fine print to see if exactly what is and is not covered.

You may find that a policy that costs a little more each month or has a slightly higher deductible will actually save you much more money in the long run because you it covers so many more conditions.

Do Compare Pet Insurance Quotes

Be sure you get quotes from at least 3 pet insurance companies.  Getting 5 would be much better.  This way you’ll know who’s offering what kind of policy at what price point.  Knowing what’s available and how much it costs will empower you to drive a hard bargain.  It will also reassure you that you are getting the best deal possible for both you and your pets.

Don’t Buy Accident Only Pet Insurance

Unless there are extenuating circumstances I don’t see why you’d buy accident only pet insurance.  As the name states it will only reimburse you for veterinarian expenses arising from accidental injury to your pet.  Something like being hit by a car.

This type of pet insurance won’t help you defray the vet costs if your pet becomes ill or needs medical care for any other reason.  If, for example, your dog develops diabetes, with accident only insurance you’d have to pay for all your pets medications and vet visits totally on your own.

Do Shop For Pet Insurance Online

Shopping around for pet insurance online is an incredibly smart move.  The internet makes what was once a tedious chore a breeze.  Almost all, pet insurance companies have an online presence these days.  You can research their company, see example policies, find out what’s covered and what’s not, learn how they calculate reimbursements and even get a quote, all online.

Don’t Expect a Pre-existing Condition To Be Covered

As with any type of insurance, pet insurance will not cover any pre-existing conditions.  Not ever!  The time to get pet health insurance is BEFORE you need it.

Seriously, if you got in a fender bender with your car on Monday.  Then on Tuesday bought auto insurance.  You wouldn’t expect the new insurance company to pay for the damages that happened to your vehicle before the policy was in effect.  It’s the same with pet insurance.  If your cat already has cancer the pet insurance company will not pay for treatment.

Do Read The Fine Print

The devil, as they say, is in the details.  Be sure you read EVERYTHING before you buy.  You want to know exactly what is and what isn’t covered.  What exclusions apply to what situations.  Know how the company calculates reimbursement.  If they use terms like “usual and customary” nail them down to what EXACTLY that means.  It’s no fun paying $150 for a procedure only to find out your pet insurance company has determined the”usual and customary” cost of that procedure to be $20.

Bottom line… If you don’t understand something ASK.  Don’t buy until you do understand and agree.

Don’t Expect Your Vet To Deal With The Pet Insurance Company For You

Because pet health insurance is actually a from of property insurance it works much more like auto or home insurance than the way we have come to expect health insurance to work.  That means you will be responsible for sending in an claim form to your pet insurance company not your vet.  Many veterinary offices will help you fill out the forms if you bring them with you at the time of service though.  Just be sure to have the form with you and ask them.

Do Consider The Age Of Your Pet

The age of your pet will make a big difference to the type of pet insurance you need or if you can get any for him at all.  Thought the exact age varies from company to company, as a rule of thumb most pet insurance companies will insure a pet for the first time that is at least 8 weeks old but under 8 years old.

Don’t Worry About Your Vet Accepting Your Pet Insurance

Virtually all pet insurance policies are usable at any licensed veterinarian in the country in which the policy is issued.  This is the upside to pet health insurance being a form of property insurance.  So you can rest assured you’ll never have to change vets unless you want to.  And if you are traveling when your pet needs medical attention.  No problem.  Just save your receipts and submit a claim as usual.

Do Evaluate Your Need For Pet Insurance

Not everyone needs a pet insurance policy.  Take the time to look at yourself and your financial situation before you buy.  Are you the type of person who is disciplined enough to put money away on a regular basis and leave it there until you need it?  Do you have a credit card you can dedicate to unexpected pet medical emergencies?

If so, a savings account you contribute to on a regular basis may be better for you than pet insurance as a way for you to handle the regular and expected medical expenses you know you’ll have for your pet.

Keeping costs down while providing the best possible vet care for your pets is the goal.  If you do your research and assess your own situation you will negotiate a great deal and find a pet insurance policy that will provide the best possible care for your pets at a price you can afford.

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