It’s open enrollment time for many insurance companies, and people are researching their options and coverage, but have you considered health insurance for your pet? Pet owners often are not aware that health insurance is also available for their furry companions. As you make decisions about your family’s health coverage, don’t forget to think about your pet.

What types of pet health insurance plans are available?

Each of the many pet health insurance companies offers different plans to best fit your pet’s needs. If you are concerned about paying for a pet emergency or sudden illness, you can choose a plan that covers only unplanned medical visits, procedures, and hospitalization. However, plans also are available that provide coverage for routine wellness care, such as vaccines, dental care, and spay or neuter surgery. You should research the different plans available, and choose the option that provides the coverage you want for your pet.

Does my pet need health insurance coverage?

All pets require routine wellness care, and if a monthly premium will ensure your pet receives necessary preventive care, then a full-coverage plan that includes wellness services will definitely benefit your pet. However, many owners budget for their pet’s routine medical expenses, and hesitate to pay a monthly or annual premium for services they may never need. If your pet never becomes sick or has a medical emergency, this may be the case, but in reality, almost every pet will need emergency care or hospitalization at some point. Most pets will have several unplanned veterinary visits in their lifetime, and some will develop chronic medical conditions that require multiple office visits and treatments. Most pet owners do not have an emergency fund set aside for their pet, are not prepared to pay a large veterinary bill without advance warning.

Only you can decide whether a health insurance plan is right for your pet, but if you have not set up a fund to cover unplanned medical costs, an insurance plan can ensure that your pet receives life-saving emergency care. Instead of stressing about how you will pay for treatment, you can focus on your pet’s care and recovery. 

What medical conditions can pet health insurance cover?

If your pet suddenly becomes sick, she may need blood work, X-rays, and other tests to diagnose her medical condition. Treatment may involve hospitalization, intravenous fluids, medications, and surgery, and costs for advanced medical care can quickly climb to thousands of dollars. Insurance coverage can provide peace of mind if your pet is affected by an unexpected medical condition, such as:

  • Ear and skin infections
  • Allergies 
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Gastritis
  • Pancreatitis
  • Foreign-body ingestion
  • Thyroid disease
  • Bone fracture
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Kidney failure
  • Liver failure
  • Heart disease
  • Traumatic injuries

How do I choose the right plan for my pet?

The specific conditions covered by individual plans vary, and it is important to research details, such as:

  • Plan premium
  • Deductible
  • Copay per incident
  • Portion of the total bill that will be covered
  • Maximum payout amount
  • Pet breeds and conditions that may be excluded from coverage

The options available allow you to choose a plan that will best cover your pet’s needs.

How does pet health insurance work?

Simply choose the right plan for your pet, register, and pay the premium. After the short waiting period, your pet’s benefits will be available when a medical need arises. Unlike human health insurance, there is no network, and you can use any veterinary hospital you like. A few insurance companies pay hospital bills directly, but most companies require that you pay the bill and submit a reimbursement claim. Deductibles, the portion of your bill covered, and maximum payout amounts will vary between plans. 

When should I purchase a health insurance plan for my pet?

You will get the most benefit from a plan purchased when your pet is young; however, you can purchase pet insurance at any time. Be aware that most pre-existing conditions are not covered, and some insurance companies may not cover breeds with a high disease incidence, such as bulldogs. Some medical conditions, such as cancer, also may not be covered. 

If you have questions about pet health insurance, contact our veterinary team. We will share our experiences to help you choose the right plan for your pet.