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Comparing Different Types of Pet Insurance

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You’re probably used to researching and comparing different types of car, home, and renter insurance options—you may have even looked into boat, motorcycle, or RV insurance. Have you ever compared all the different types of pet insurance, though?

What Are the Different Types of Pet Insurance?

When it comes to pet insurance, there are many options from which pet parents can choose. Anything from provider and plan options to reimbursement rates and add-ons can all be selected with your budget and pet’s needs in mind.

Overall, there are two main types of pet insurance coverage: accident and illness and accident-only.

  • Accident and Illness Coverage

    This plan option typically covers the widest variety of conditions associated with accidents and illnesses. Specific issues include broken bones, swallowed objects, torn ligaments, cuts, cancer, arthritis, ear infections, and urinary tract infections (UTIs), among many others. Accident and Illness coverage options also usually encompass the costs of related services to accidents, such as X-rays, bloodwork, sutures, medications, and hospitalization. In addition, with illnesses, the coverage can help with expenses related to the diagnosis through the treatment of the condition.

    Although each pet insurance provider may have a slightly different list of items under their accident and illness plan, some also include congenital, hereditary, and chronic conditions, behavioral issues, alternative therapies, subscription food, subscription medication, supplements, and microchip implantation under their plan.

    Even though there’s a long list of items covered under an accident and illness plan, pet insurance providers will most likely still have some exclusions. These may also vary but can include cosmetic procedures, breeding costs, preventive care, and pre-existing conditions. However, how a pre-existing condition is defined can vary from provider to provider.

  • Accident-Only Coverage

    This type of coverage does not cover illnesses and only encompasses costs related to accidents. Many pet parents are drawn to this insurance plan since they may find that their cat or dog is relatively healthy but maybe a little more accident-prone. Depending on your provider, some accident-only coverage plans are more budget-friendly.

    It is important to note that accident-only plans also have exclusions, often the same as a comprehensive coverage plan.

In addition to the main plans offered, it is worthwhile to look at any add-on options. For instance, ASPCA® Pet Health Insurance program offers an option to attach preventive care coverage to your current plan for a small additional cost. With this addition, you can get reimbursed for things like wellness exams, vaccines, flea and tick medication, and heartworm preventative, all of which are essential for keeping your feline friend and canine companion in tip-top shape.

If you are the proud pet parent to multiple cats, dogs, or a combination of both, you will also want to look into the various coverage options for numerous pets. Many companies allow you to enroll more than one pet on the same account, but it’s worth double-checking if you can customize each plan. There are even some pet insurance providers that offer the option of adding multiple pets all together on one plan.

One of the best ways to gain more information on how a particular pet insurance provider works is to explore their social media presence and website or even reach out to their customer support group for clarification. When all this content and interaction are combined, you may have a much firmer grasp of the company’s values, mission statements, and how they treat their customers. So, whether you are searching around online or call to speak with someone, here are some questions to ask when choosing a pet insurance provider.

  1. Do you have any waiting periods with your insurance plans?
  2. Are there any plan exclusions based on where I live and my pet’s breed?
  3. Can I get a free quote before signing up?
  4. Is there automatic renewal from one plan period to the next?
  5. What does your claim submission and reimbursement process look like? Are these done through an app, online, or via mail and fax?

Although some of your burning questions about pet insurance may revolve around the cost, it’s helpful to keep in mind that many factors can affect that number. For instance, your pet’s breed and age can affect how often they need to visit their veterinarian. Where you live can influence the price of veterinary care, and of course, the specific plan you choose can also vary in cost.

tan and black dog lay on the floor with mouth open

What To Know Before Buying Pet Insurance

Before you enroll your pet in their pet insurance plan, it can be helpful to follow a few preliminary steps. First and foremost, you’ll want to do a bit of pet insurance research.

Start by comparing pet insurance plans. As previously mentioned, most companies separate their plans into two main categories: accident and illness and accident-only. You’ll want to decide which type of plan will fit your pet’s needs the best, including possible add-on options. You can then research various pet insurance providers. As you compare one provider with another, you’ll notice the slight differentiators such as plan costs, exclusions, add-on options, customization choices, and claim turn-around time. Keep these things in mind and your priorities at the forefront when considering what each provider offers.

As you explore your options, don’t forget to check out online customer reviews for the providers. You can also ask around. The fellow pet parents in your life, whether friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers, may have some glowing recommendations for one pet insurance company over another.

Choosing the Right Pet Insurance Plan for You

Taking your time and adequately looking into all your pet insurance options is sure to pay off when you have a plan that fits your pet’s needs with a plan provider who genuinely cares about you as a customer and pet parent.

Now that the choices of pet plan provider and insurance plan are resolved, you can consider any customization options offered. Plus, it’s beneficial to understand the ins and outs of how your policy can work for you.

For example, you’ll want to look at your annual limit, which is the maximum amount you can get reimbursed during your policy period—for many, this is a 12-month timeframe. For example, let’s say your annual limit was $10,000 for a year. This means that when your reimbursements reach $10,000, any other reimbursements beyond this amount will cease since you have reached your limit for the policy period.

As you learn more about your pet’s plan, you will also come across the term ‘deductible.’ Your deductible is the amount you must meet before your reimbursements can begin. For example, if your deductible is $100 and you submit a claim for $250 in covered costs, your reimbursement would be based on the remaining $150. It is important to note whether your deductible is an annual one or if it has another timeframe. With annual deductibles, you need to only meet them once per plan period and will not have to worry about them again until the start of your next plan year.

Another term you will frequently come across is ‘reimbursement percentage.’ This term describes the percentage of covered costs you will receive after you meet your deductible. In other words, if you have an 80% reimbursement percentage, you will get reimbursed 80% of your covered costs once you’ve satisfied your deductible.

Understanding these terms and having a better idea of how your pet’s coverage functions could help in the long run in case you ever notice a discrepancy on one of your bills or reimbursements. Most importantly, by being familiar with these standard insurance terms and knowing that you selected the best insurance option for your pal, you can have more peace of mind knowing that someone else is helping look out for your pet’s wellbeing.

An ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan can help you with eligible costs for covered conditions like surgery expenses for accidents and help provide peace of mind that your pet can receive the care they need. Check out our online resources to learn more about your insurance options and get a free quote today. The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.

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