Pet Insurance: An Overview
Disclaimer: Sunnyvale Veterinary Clinic, Inc. and its employees do not receive compensation for endorsing any specific carrier. We do not sell or underwrite insurance policies. All information in this article is subject to change without notice.
Why Buy Pet Insurance?
Pet insurance can help you cover those veterinary bills that are hard to plan for. The field of veterinary medicine has seen tremendous advancement in recent years. From orthopedic surgeries to modern cancer treatments and advanced management of kidney and heart disease, the sky’s the limit ... but this requires highly skilled doctors and staff, and state-of-the-art equipment. Consequently, the cost of veterinary care has gone up substantially.
Illnesses, injuries, accidents, and hereditary conditions are usually covered under most pet insurance policies. This allows you to obtain life-saving care for your pet that you may not be able to afford otherwise. Insurance coverage can also help you choose the best and healthiest option for your pet, instead of having to choose a less-than-ideal option due to financial constraints.
Some things to keep in mind when comparing insurance carriers ...
Unlike human insurance companies, most pet insurance carriers reimburse you directly after a veterinary visit. Some companies (such as Trupanion) have online claim submissions and can reimburse the clinic directly, saving you out-of-pocket expenses. Avoid plans that say something like “set benefit amounts,” “benefits schedule,” or “set average costs.” These determine your reimbursement based on national averages—you usually spend much more on coverage than you could ever get back! The same can be true with wellness reimbursements; they’re often a set amount, which usually does not pay off in high cost-of-living areas like the Bay Area.If your pet has been sick or injured in the past, take a close look at the policy’s pre-existing condition clause. Some won’t cover bilateral conditions (such as TPLO or cruciate ligament injuries if the other knee was already injured). Even foreign body ingestion may be considered a pre-existing condition. Insurance companies will have a specific time period that they’ll look over to see if any signs or symptoms were present before coverage (usually ~18 months to 2 years). Some insurance carriers will exclude sick or older pets from illness coverage when signing up.They may still cover accidents or injuries, but pay extra careful attention when looking into plans for older pets.Avoid insurance companies that can change what your plan will cover from year to year. Premiums may change annually, but coverage should not!
Which insurance carrier should you choose?
With so many available, it's tough to decide. There are more than a dozen pet insurance companies in the U.S. For a good overview of available pet insurance companies, you can visit www.petinsurancereview.com.
Which insurance companies have we worked with?
Here is a brief comparison of three companies we have experience with (we do not receive compensation for endorsing any specific carrier).
With Trupanion, you get one simple plan with a sliding deductible which determines your premium. The deductible is per condition, per lifetime (which is extremely helpful for chronic conditions), and you can change options at anytime. Trupanion has a 90% reimbursement once the deductible is met for that condition, with no payout limit. Rates are based on the pet's breed, age, and zip code. Online claim submissions and direct payment to your veterinarian are available if they participate in Trupanion Express (like we do).
What's Covered: Trupanion covers diagnostic tests, surgeries, hospitalization, medication and supplements, carts and prosthetic devices, hereditary and congenital conditions, specialists, and non-routine dental surgery. Additional riders are available for breeding and alternative therapies.
What's Not Covered: Trupanion does not cover pre-existing conditions, wellness services, examination fees and cosmetic procedures.
Waiting periods: 5 days for accidents/injuries, 30 days for illness. Waiting period waiver available; please see one of our receptionists for details.
For more information or to get a quote visit www.trupanion.com
Embrace is very customizable - you choose your deductible, reimbursement level, and additional coverage. The deductible resets each year. Embrace has a Wellness Rewards plan available for wellness services. Rates are based on the pet's age and/or health status. Embrace offers online claim submissions and will soon have direct payment to your veterinarian available for wellness visits.
What's Covered: Embrace covers examination fees, diagnostic tests, surgeries, hospitalization, medication and supplements, mobility aids and prosthetic limbs, hereditary and congenital conditions, specialists, and behavioral and alternative therapies. Medication and other optional coverage is also available.
What's Not Covered: Embrace does not cover pre-existing conditions, supplements, dental treatments or cosmetic procedures.
Waiting periods: 2 days for accidents/injuries, 14 days for illness, 6 months for orthopedic conditions (can be reduced with physical exam and waiver; please see one of our receptionists for details).
For more information or to get a quote visit www.embracepetinsurance.com
Healthy Paws has one simple plan - you choose your deductible and reimbursement level. The deductible resets each year, and there's no payout limit. Rates are based on the pet's age, breed and zip code. There are no price increases based on the pet's age. Pets less than six years old are required to have a physical exam within one year of enrollment, and pets older than six years require a physical exam within 30 days.
What's Covered: Healthy Paws covers diagnostic tests, surgeries, hospitalization, medication, chronic conditions, hereditary and congenital conditions, specialists, and alternative therapies.
What's Not Covered: Healthy Paws does not cover examination fees, pre-existing conditions, wellness services, cosmetic procedures, or hip dysplasia for dogs and cats older than 6 years at enrollment.
Waiting periods: 15 days for accidents/injuries/illnesses, 12 months for hip dysplasia on dogs and cats under 6 years at enrollment.
For more information or to get a quote visit www.healthypawspetinsurance.com
We hope that this article has been helpful in outlining both the benefits and limitations of pet insurance. In the event of a serious illness or injury, pet insurance can make a huge difference in your pet's life and save you from having to make tough decisions based on finances, so it is definitely worth considering.