The question of whether or not to purchase pet insurance is one that weighs heavily on almost every pet parent’s mind. When you have a healthy pet, it may seem not worth the investment... and no judgment there, when just a simple trip to the vet can be so costly! But on the other hand, you don’t want to get caught in an unexpected and frightening scenario without protection.
Recently, our beloved Bazzy suffered from a torn CCL (similar to a torn ACL in humans). Thankfully, we had already invested in pet insurance. However, we do have some regrets when it came to the pet insurance we opted for. Our number one regret is not doing enough research beforehand! We didn’t realize there was so much to consider when choosing the right pet insurance, and ended up missing out on more coverage because of it.
So, we at Bazzy’s Kefir want to save you from the same hassle and help you understand more about pet insurance and what to look for to help you decide what’s right for you and your pet family.
Every pet family has different needs, so here are 10 questions you should ask when identifying the right pet insurance plan for your family:
- Is it a Pet Health Discount Plan or Comprehensive?
We didn’t even know there was a difference! What you should know, first and foremost, is that a pet health discount plan is one in which you would pay a yearly fee and receive discounts for various veterinarian and pet-related services. A comprehensive plan works much like health insurance for humans and involves partial or complete coverage.
- Do I get to choose my veterinarian?
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, you should always be free to choose your own veterinarian. That means, if the plan you’re looking into does not allow for that, it may not be the right plan for you. Be sure you have the freedom of choice—this is the one area in which pet insurance should not act the same way as human health insurance by having “in-network” providers.
- Is there a waiting period?
There may be a waiting period before your policy takes effect. Be sure to understand when exactly your pet insurance coverage starts and ends, and determine whether or not your pet can wait (fortunately, most companies will cover accidental injuries within days). But if your pet does not currently have an immediate need, this question may be of low importance, and perhaps the plan has other benefits worth opting for.
- What is covered by this plan?
This is probably the question you’re already asking and the most obvious one! For instance, you’re probably already asking what kinds of surgeries this plan covers. But be sure you’re also asking about:
- Routine check-ups: if the policy is comprehensive, ask if it covers routine veterinarian visits, immunizations, dental care, and heartworm testing.
- Preventative care: does this policy cover services such as spaying, neutering, and other preventative services?
- Prescription coverage: veterinarian technology is continuously developing, which is great, but costly. Many pets need prescription meds and can be the bottom line when determining your plan.
- Are there any exclusions?
Or, in other words, what does this plan specifically not cover? Are there any instances in which this policy eliminates coverage? Common pet insurance exclusions are pre-existing conditions like hip dysplasia, dental disease, or hereditary conditions. Look closely at the policy in question for any exclusions that may apply to your four-legged friend.
- Is the policy reimbursement based?
Almost every pet insurance policy works by reimbursement: you pay upfront for veterinarian costs and your pet insurance company will either send a check or reimburse you via direct deposit. Still, this is an important convention to keep in mind when moving forward with pet insurance. We recommend that, when possible, you separately budget for vet costs or even set up a special fund beforehand for your pet’s needs if and when the time comes.
- Is there a deductible?
Deductibles and premiums go hand-in-hand. Deductibles are what you must pay out-of-pocket before your policy is put into effect (see question 3!), and premiums are what you pay monthly or yearly for the insurance plan. For example, you may have to pay $500 or $700 before your pet can be covered by his or her plan. You can determine what amount is right for you and your budget, but keep in mind that in most cases, the lower the deductible, the higher the premium.
- What are the caps?
This is a big one and one we wish we had figured out before Bazzy needed his surgery! Usually, there are various limits on how much your pet insurance will cover for a certain incident, illness, or treatment. A knee surgery, for instance, may have a different cap than preventative care. Make sure you ask what, if any, the policy limits are, and if there are other options under the insurance company before selecting your specific policy.
- How transparent is this company?
When considering a pet insurance company, you should definitely take time scouring the internet for reviews from reputable online sites. Get an idea of how the company treats its customers and clients. How do they communicate? Are they easy to get a hold of? Will they provide you with all the answers you need? This is also a great way to find out about potential roadblocks or issues you may encounter later, even after you thought you’ve asked a sufficient amount of questions.
- What do other pet parents recommend?
Usually, big pet insurance companies are popular for a reason. If you have a super unique pet with special needs, you may forego advice and do what’s right for you and your pet, and that’s okay! But it’s also okay to reach out to friends and family and ask what companies they recommend. We recommend Healthy Paws, which has a #1 customer rating for the last 10 years, and high customer satisfaction is important to us!
Bazzy’s Kefir isn’t just here to deliver the yummiest and healthiest frozen treats your pup can find—our mission is to be as helpful as possible to as many pet parents as we can reach! We’re always looking to improve the lives of pets, whether it comes to insurance, food, wellness, or lifestyle. Join us @BazzysKefir and let us know which pet insurance company you love, and why!
Speaking of which, if you want some advice on how to help your pet recover from surgery, we’ve got you covered.
Otherwise, stay tuned for more blog posts, like…