As a pet parent who cares enough to feed your dog human-grade, vet-approved, homemade dog food, you probably see your pet as a member of the family. If that’s true, buying pet insurance is the next logical step.
Consider how Healthy Paws customer and pet parent Michaella, who adopted Rue, a mixed breed puppy from a shelter in South Carolina, benefitted from pet insurance. Rue quickly developed ear infections that were difficult to resolve. Then she showed signs of a skin condition: chewing her legs until the fur was gone and some bald patches on her face.
Then spring arrived, and Rue really started to feel miserable. She seemed to be itching all over, and her anal glands were inflamed. Michaella started trying different foods to see if it was a food allergy. When that didn’t help, she asked her veterinarian to perform allergy testing.
The tests revealed that Rue was allergic to every tree, grass, and type of pollen. Michaella tried daily medication, which brought little to no relief. Then she switched to monthly allergy injections, which finally gave Rue the relief she needed.
The itching stopped, and Rue is again excited to enjoy romps in the woods. Michaella submitted a claim of $1,400 for the testing and treatment and was reimbursed $1,136 by Healthy Paws on a plan with 90 percent coverage and a $100 deductible.
Many people think that their pets won’t face health problems until they’re older, but younger pets, like Rue, are far from invincible when it comes to unexpected accidents and illnesses. In fact, younger dogs are more likely to get into mischief. Among other recent cases involving younger pets at Healthy Paws:
- A French Bulldog puppy who broke his elbow at puppy school
- A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who was seriously sickened by Valley Fever
- A 6-year-old Labrador Retriever who was rushed to the ER after consuming grapes.
Enrolling in pet insurance while your pet is young and without pre-existing conditions is key to being covered when mishaps inevitably happen.
How Does Pet Insurance Work?
Luckily for you and your dog, pet health insurance is a lot less complicated than the human type. Pet insurance covers the unexpected injuries or illnesses that come up with your pet’s health care, such as your dog ingesting something toxic or indigestible, tearing a tendon when playing too hard, or developing a heart condition or cancer. With most plans, you don’t have to stick to an “in-network provider” but can visit any licensed veterinarian.
Most policies don’t cover wellness care (annual trips to the vet for an exam, vaccines, and flea or tick treatment) or dental care. The Healthy Paws plan covers most other medically necessary veterinary treatments. That includes diagnostic testing such as x-rays and blood tests, hospitalization, surgeries, physical therapy, and prescription medications.
As veterinary care becomes more advanced and pets are living longer, vet bills are going up, and many pet parents don’t have the savings they need to cover the thousands of dollars a single emergency visit can cost. A Healthy Paws Pet Insurance plan can reimburse you up to 90% on your vet bills.
Many of our pet parents tell us that not worrying about having to pay the high cost of unexpected bills allows them to make the best health care decision they can for their pets and not just the best they can afford. Some even say that having pet insurance has saved their pet’s lives because they would have had to make the difficult decision to euthanize them without financial help.
Pet parent Aaron was in a horrible car accident earlier this year, where his Labrador Fizban was paralyzed after flying into the windshield. Aaron was determined to save his buddy, who had seen him through the most difficult times in his life. After surgery, stem cell treatment, and weeks of physical therapy, Fizban is able to walk with dog wheels on his hind legs and appears on his way to full functionality again.
“Without the treatments, Healthy Paws is ensuring I can afford, I might have had to euthanize Fizban in that condition. It would have haunted me for the rest of my life,” Aaron wrote.
How to Choose Pet Insurance
There are at least 11 providers offering pet insurance in the U.S. Most pet health insurance plans have a few basics in common. You select a reimbursement level and deductible and can go to any licensed veterinarian you choose. You pay your veterinarian, file a claim, and then get reimbursed. Beyond that, pet insurance plans can vary considerably. It is important to note that no policy covers pre-existing conditions.
Here are some variables to look for when comparing plans:
Look for a plan that covers accidents and illnesses, including genetic and hereditary conditions, and does not exclude conditions based on breed.
Limits on payouts:
Look for providers that have no caps on the dollar amount they will pay to cover your vet bills. If your pet suffers a severe injury or illness, you'll be glad your coverage doesn't top out. Healthy Paws has no maximum limits on payouts; no per-incident caps, no annual caps, and no lifetime caps.
Not all pet insurance providers pay on the actual veterinary bill. Beware of benefit schedules or "usual and customary" policy language, as it may lower your reimbursement amounts.
This is the amount you are responsible for before your reimbursement kicks in. Deductibles can be annual or per incident. An annual deduction is preferable as you usually meet your deductible amount faster and get reimbursed more. Annual deductible options usually run from $100 - $500.
Is the company quick to process claims, do they make it easy to understand, can you manage your policy easily? Find out what current customers say about the company by reading reviews online, or you can compare companies all in one place at PetInsuranceQuotes.com
How do different companies compare?
Different companies offer different types of coverage. When shopping around for pet insurance, check out review sites like Consumers Advocate, CanineJournal.com, and PetInsuranceQuotes.com to see how providers compare. You want to find a policy that offers comprehensive coverage for accidents and illnesses, reimburses you on your actual vet bill instead of a benefit schedule, has an easy claims process, no limits or caps on payouts, and has great reviews. Some variables to keep an eye on:
• Reimbursement level: This is the percentage that you can expect the insurance company to cover (after your deductible has been met and barring any excluded conditions). You can typically choose from 70, 80, or 90 percent reimbursement levels, with higher reimbursement levels resulting in a more expensive monthly premium.
• Deductible: The amount you're responsible for before your reimbursement kicks in. Deductibles can be annual or per incident. Annual is recommended as you usually meet your deductible amount faster and will be reimbursed more. Annual deductible options usually run from $100 - $500.
• Limits on payouts: Look for companies that have no per incident, annual or lifetime caps on the dollar amount they will pay to cover your vet bills. If your pet suffers a serious injury or illness, you'll be glad your coverage doesn't top out.
• Coverage exclusions: Look for companies that cover accidents and illnesses, including genetic and hereditary conditions, and do not exclude conditions based on breed.
Should I start a savings account instead?
While lots of pet parents rely on savings for emergencies, unfortunately, animals with trauma or a sudden onset of illness can wipe those savings completely out. Diagnoses can lead to expensive urgent care including surgeries and follow-up can run well into the thousands. So, for example, let’s say you’ve saved $1,000. One day, your pet has a serious accident and you’re hit with a $3,500 vet bill. With Healthy Paws, you could be reimbursed 90% of that bill which is $3,150 (minus your annual deductible). With a savings account, you would be responsible for the full bill.
For most pet parents, pet insurance saves them money and anxiety when it comes to expensive unexpected accidents and illnesses. Since pre-existing conditions are an across-the-board exception for almost all providers, it’s recommended that you don't wait until your pet has an unexpected trip to the vet to consider pet insurance. By enrolling as soon as you can, dogs and cats can be covered through life’s (mis)adventures.
If you love your pet like family but aren’t financially prepared if the worst should happen, consider pet insurance! You can cover your furry family member and protect your wallet at the same time. Start by getting a free quote.
Are you wondering if pet insurance is right for you? Start by getting a free quote from Healthy Paws. It only takes 30 seconds, and we will donate to help homeless pets for each quote.
Content provided by Healthy Paws Pet Insurance. Healthy Paws is one of the leading pet insurance program providers in the U.S. for dogs and cats, and is ranked #1 by customers on leading review websites
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.