Pet insurance and what to avoid

Question:

After talking to my vet and looking at several pet insurance company web sites I am confused!  What should I definitely avoid in picking a plan for my pet?

Answer:

Most of the pet health insurance plans are good and provide value. But here are five things to avoid or watch out for:

Benefit schedules

That is, a method of reimbursement for claims which has set limits for each diagnosis and each diagnostic test your pet may require. The problem for you is the set limits may not be realistic for where you live, your veterinarian’s fees, or the medical problem that your pet has. After the deductible, you may be out of pocket much more than you think. In fact, on average near 50% of the medical cost may not be covered.

Chronic care

Will the plan continue to allow for chronic care after each renewal? And if so, how much? Plans have limits and if you select a low limit plan and then you’re pet acquires a chronic costly condition, you may run out of benefits. And remember, any condition present would not be eligible for switching to another company or plan.

Turnaround time for payment

In most situations with pet insurance, you will pay your veterinarian and then seek reimbursement for your pet expenses. How quickly you are paid will be very important to your budgeting. Seek a company that has a reputation for paying their claims fast, offers Direct Deposit into your account for payment, and accepts claims via fax or emailed, not just mailed. Otherwise, despite promises, you may be waiting 30 days for your payments.

Company reputation

Ask your veterinarian, the front office staff, or pet friends which companies are the best. It is easy to have a nice web site, but ask around about a company’s reputation and customer experiences. Avoid unknowns or where other veterinary clients or friends have had bad experiences.

Non-insurance options

There are clubs, plans, and discount groups that come and go and offer little value and longevity. Make sure the company you choose is licensed and admitted in your state to provide insurance.