Are you looking to find out What Is Pet Insurance? You are not alone, over 63 000 searches are made a month on Google from people trying to find out more about pet insurance. I know I am one.
So let’s take an in depth look at pet insurance, and why you might need it.
Brief History of Pet Insurance
In 1890 the first pet insurance policy was written by Claes Virgin, focusing initially on horses and livestock. Britain sold its first pet insurance policy in 1947, and up until 2009 Britain had the second-highest rate of pet insurance in the world. Only Sweden was in front of them.
Did you know, in 1982, the first pet insurance policy was sold in the USA, and this was issued to Lassie, from the television program, sold to them by Veterinary Pet Insurance.
How Do Pet Policies Work?
Pet insurance is often believed to be a variation of human health insurance. This is not true, it actually is a form of property insurance. So what this means for you and me is that the pet insurance company will reimburse the owner after your pet has received the covered care. You would normally be required to pay the bill and then submit the claim to the insurance company.
Pet insurance primarily covers dogs, cats, horses and, in some cases, more exotic species of animals can obtain coverage.
What Do Policies Typically Cover?
Pet Insurance normally falls under two categories, non-lifetime and lifetime.
Non-lifetime will usually cover policy holders for most conditions suffered by their pets during the course of a policy year. However, this is the factor to note, on renewal the next year, anything that has been claimed on in the previous year, will not be included. So if your pet needs additional treatment for the claimed ailment, you will have to pay for it yourself.
Lifetime policies, is as the name states, meaning your pet will be covered for ongoing treatments throughout their lifetime. Unfortunately insurance cover is never this straightforward. Lifetime policies also have their limits and conditions. Some have limits per ‘condition’, others have limits ‘per condition per year’ and others ‘per year’ You really want to make sure you understand what you are buying so that you can make an informed decision. The best way to do this is to ask as many questions as you can when you are looking at the different policy options.
Companies will also often limit coverage for preexisting conditions, this is in order to eliminate fraudulent consumers. This give owners an incentive to insure very young animals, who are not expected to have high veterinary costs while they are young and healthy.
Additionally, there is normally a waiting period of no more than 14 days from the start of the policy before you can make a claim. This is to prevent claims for illnesses that had begun before the policy, but only had symptoms appear after the coverage had begun. So if you know your animal is sick, rushing to buy a policy before you take them to the vet, is not going to work.
If you are after a wider range of coverage, it is worthwhile to shop around. Some pet insurers now cover for options that are not directly associated with pet health. These can include travel cancellation if an owner needs to stay with a pet who needs urgent treatment or are dying. You can also find coverage for boarding costs for animals whose owners are hospitalized, and even costs associated with retrieving lost pets, such as rewards or posters.
In Britain some policies offer a third-party liability insurance. So if your dog causes a car accident that damages a vehicle, the insurer will pay to rectify the damage for which the owner is responsible. My brother once had a dog that was a master at escaping the yard, and boy could he run and dodge you, I think this would have been a very necessary insurance for them to have.
General Guide To The Fee Structure & What Treatments May Be Covered
United States and Canada – these two countries have policies that either pay off a benefit schedule or pay a percentage of the vet costs. This could be 70-100% after reaching a deductible, this is dependent on the company and the policy. So if you have taken your pet to the vet, you usually have to pay the bill and then send in a claim form and receive reimbursement. Some veterinarians may allow you to put off payment until the insurance claim has been processed, especially is the bill is very high. Occasionally some insurance companies may pay the veterinarian directly, however, this is not the normal practice. In America and Canada most policies will require you to submit a request for fees incurred.
United Kingdom – Pet Insurance policies can differ here, in that UK policies may be 100% of the vet fees, again this is dependent on the company and your policy. A number of companies will offer a discounted policy and you are asked to pay the “excess”, this is similar to motor insurance.
Some insurance companies are now starting to offer comprehensive coverage. Previously most insurance plans did not pay for preventative care, including vaccinations, or elective procedures, such as neutering. Now you can get these covered under the comprehensive coverage, and they could also include such treatments as prescription drugs, dental care, physiotherapy and even acupuncture.
Pet insurers are becoming more flexible and are starting to offer the pet owner a wider range of options to draw up an insurance plan that is better suited to them. There are now options to choose your own level of deductible or co-insurance. What this means is you may get to choose how much out-of-pocket expenses you are prepared to pay, this could reduce the cost of your policy.
Typically, dogs and cats are covered, however, if you do have other pets, you may have to look around for insurance companies who will cover them.
Another factor to consider when looking for suitable insurances is whether congenital and hereditary conditions are covered. These include conditions such as heart defects, eye cataracts, hip dyslplasia and diabetes.
Do You Have A Better Understanding of Pet Insurance?
Pet Insurance and what is covered is a diverse and growing industry. When you are looking for cover a number of factors will come into play. These include the type of pet you have, for dogs, if they are a certain breed, the age of your pet and certain congenital and hereditary factors. What type of cover you are after, and where you live all determine your options.
While this is a general guide to Pet Insurance, I hope it will help you to gain a better understanding of what pet insurance is and how to go about looking for the correct policy for you and your pet.
Any further insights and comments can be left below. If you would like a further explanation, leave a comment and I will try to help you.
“Money can buy you a fine dog, but only love can make him wag his tail.” – Kinky Friedman