In California, you will seldom return from a hike or a walk without encountering a dog or a cat leading their parents. It is said that pets get to live the good life here. But, to be honest, it is an expensive place. So, the last thing you want is an unexpected bill from the vet. While caring for pets is becoming an expensive thing, a lot is now covered under pet insurance in California even if that really depends on the kind of plan you pick. In fact, it is number one in the USA for pet insurance quotes (and New York is the second). But you need to have a comprehensive awareness of the way in which these plans are designed.
Pet Insurance in California
From San Diego ($57.50 per month) to San Francisco ($47.54 per month), there are a lot of situations that can spell trouble for your four-legged friend. Vet expenses are more than just about caring for your canine when they are sick. You need to think about physical examinations, lab work and surgical procedures when required and hospitalization if it comes to that.
If you pick the right insurance policy, you might be able to completely avoid out of pocket spending.
Pet Health Insurance
To make sure that you are financially equipped to take care of your dog or cat, you must understand the two types of pet insurance in California: accidents & illness and wellness plans.
In the first category, you will get coverage for:
- Accidents and illnesses
- Hereditary conditions
- Pre-Existing Conditions
- Chronic conditions
- Congenital conditions
- Lab work like X-Rays and blood tests
- Surgery and hospitalization
- Prescription medications
- Specialty care
- Preventative care
- Emergency care
- Alternative treatment
- Diagnostic treatment
In the second category, you will get coverage for:
- Pre-existing conditions
- Annual exams
- Behavioral exams
- Blood tests
- Heartworm tests
- Urine tests
- Fecal test
- Health certificate
- Preventative care
It is also crucial to know the things that are not covered under pet insurance in California so that you are not blindsided in an already difficult situation.
- Benefit Limit: Some companies offer unlimited lifetime benefits which is the best case scenario. But when there is a limit, you will have to pay the over and above from your pocket. For instance, if your pet needs surgery that will cost you $15,000 and your insurance has a $10,000 limit, the extra five grand comes out of your pocket.
- Annual per Incident and Annual Maximum: If your insurance offers per incident benefit, you will be reimbursed for each condition or illness in a calendar year. If you have an annual maximum, you get the total payout for the calendar year regardless of what it was for as long as it’s covered under the plan.
The other clauses to read carefully are:
- Lifetime maximum
- Deductibles (annual , per condition annual, per condition lifetime)
- Pricing (your location, type of pet and age of pet)
- Exclusions (usually for wellness plans)
- Pre-existing conditions (check the company’s exact definition for this)
- Hereditary and congenital conditions (check the specifics for the breed of your pet)
- Claims (time period)
- Waiting period (how long before you can claim it)
Best Pet Insurance
Now let’s take a look at three of the best plans for your furry little friends.
Figo is a part of the Tech Hub Network from Google and has been offering insurance services for pets since 2012. Their plan has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau which has got to make you feel good about it.
This coverage is a bit expensive and comes in three levels. This pet health insurance is calculated on the basis of your pet’s age, breed and your zip code. Once you submit the form, you can choose from one of the three plans and customize the quote by picking the reimbursement and deductible rates. You can submit the bills through their app and follow the claims and get paid digitally which makes the whole process paperless.
You also have the option of getting help if you lose your pet. However, only the most expensive package offers unlimited coverage. The others offer spending up to $10,000 or $14,000. There is no per-incident limit like some other plans.
The annual deductible starts at $50 and goes up to $500. And if there is a life-threatening/saving emergency, Figo will waive the annual deductible.
There is a 100 percent reimbursement if you pay for that to be a part of your plan. If you don’t, you have the option of 70 or 90 percent reimbursement after you submit an invoice from the vet.
The monthly premium for dogs starts at $49 and for cats it is $29.
Pets Best Pet Health Insurance
Our second choice is Pets Best which has been around since 2005. It was founded by a vet who launched the first pet insurance company in North America (Dr. Jack Stevens in 1981). They have a rating of A+ and presently insure over 100,00 pets in the USA.
The plans offered by Pets Best can be greatly personalized to suit your needs. Pets Best offers great services like a 5 percent military discount and a 5 percent extra discount if you insure two or more pets. The waiting period is 3 days for accidents, 14 days for illnesses and 6 months for ligament problems. In exceptional cases, they may waive the waiting period if you switch from another insurance company.
You can choose from a range of deductibles from $50 to $1,000 from their three plans: Essential, Plus and Elite.
- Essential: Accidents, illnesses, hereditary conditions, surgeries, emergency care and cancer.
- Plus: Essential + exam fees.
- Elite: All of the above and alternative therapies like acupuncture, chiropractic and rehabilitation. You can also add benefits of prescription medication.
Pets Bets also has wellness plans that allow you to get additional therapy for your little one starting at $15 a month. While they do not have unlimited coverage, you can pick between 70 percent, 80 percent and 90 percent. The annual policy cap is at $2,500, $5,000, $10,000 and none at all depending on your plan.
They also have a 24 x 7 helpline. You can submit your claims digitally with a picture of your vet invoice.
This one has been offering pet insurance since 2002 and provides insurance exclusively to the American Kennel Club (AKC). They offer insurance through the American Insurance Pet Company and the Independent American Insurance Company and also have an A+ rating.
If you have multiple pets, this is a great choice because they give 5 percent discount for two or more pets insured at once. They have insurance plans which cover:
- MRIs & CT scans
- Alternative and holistic treatments
- Nutritional supplements and vitamins
There is a waiting period of two days for accidents, 14 days for illnesses and 180 days for ligament problems. You will be reimbursed for 70 or 80 or 90 percent of the bill depending on your plan.
The annual caps also vary from plan to plan with basic insurance placing a limit of $500 per incident and $1,000 for optional alternatives. If your pet has a hereditary or congenital condition, it will not be insured unless you opt for it.
The wellness coverage plans include vet exams and preventing care like neutering and teeth cleaning procedures. Some other preventive care items can be added according to your needs. You are likely to get reimbursed in about 14 days after the claim is made.
The best insurance policies for your pet provide a comprehensive coverage for most (if not all) expected health emergencies. Accidents and illnesses are a grant but you must also make sure that conditions like diabetes, kidney diseases and cancer are taken care of year to year.
Wellness insurance coverage, on the other hand, takes care of preventive procedures that are less expensive. Some pet owners consider this an add-on to the regular policy to keep their premiums down. Which one works for you? We’ll let you be the judge of that.