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Colorado Insurance Blog

Pet Insurance 101

Many pet owners’ worst nightmare is having to turn down lifesaving treatment for their furry family member because they can’t afford the cost. It’s a scenario that no pet parent should have to face.

In an ideal world, everyone would be able to make the best choice for their pet rather than the least expensive choice. Luckily, pet insurance can help avoid the tragic decision some people make, commonly referred to as “economic euthanasia.”

If you ask me, you shouldn’t get a cat or dog if you aren’t willing to do what is needed to keep them happy, healthy and alive. My husband and I would never decide to put one of our dogs down just to save some money. We would pay whatever it costs to save them as long as they would still have some quality of life. They aren’t just our pets, they are a huge part of our family.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to see the future. You don’t know if something unexpected will happen making it impossible to pay expensive vet bills. Now that we live in a reality with COVID-19, it’s clear that anything can happen.

If you’re not able to shell out thousands of dollars for a lifesaving procedure but you still want a furry companion, pet insurance is a great option. It allows you to pay a relatively low monthly premium and can cover potential costly expenses that could arise if your pet gets injured or sick.

Still not sure if pet insurance is really worth it? Here is some more information to help you decide if it’s right for you and your fur baby.

How does pet insurance work if your pet gets injured or ill?

Most pet insurance requires you to pay the vet bills upfront and then submit a claim for reimbursement. Some vet offices will allow you to defer the bill until the insurance pays their portion. But that is up to the individual vet, so be sure to ask your vet about their policy.

There’s no in-network requirement

Unlike with human health insurance, your coverage isn’t dependent on finding a vet that is in-network. You can keep going to the vet of your choice without worrying about if your claim will be declined as a result.

There is often a waiting period

Most plans will cover your pet immediately for accidents and preventive care, but many have a waiting period for illnesses or other injuries. This is to prevent people from finding out their animal is sick and then deciding to get pet insurance to cover the bills, which is a form of insurance fraud.

Decide what plan is right for you and your pet

There are different levels of plans available with most carriers, which allows you to tailor your plan to fit your needs and budget. Depending on the carrier, each level may vary by covered incidents, reimbursement amount, or annual deductible.

Some basic plans can cost as little as $10/month while the higher-level plans can cost as much as $75/month. You can find options anywhere in-between, so there are options for any budget. If you look at a variety of pet insurance providers, you should be able to find a plan that covers what you’re looking for at a price you can afford.

Pet insurance doesn’t cover all vet care

Most pet insurance excludes coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Some plans don’t cover routine care, like annual shots and well-visits. Many plans are intended to help with unexpected costs, like tests or surgery due to unexpected illness or injury, though there is often an option to add preventive care for an additional cost.

Depending on the carrier and plan you select, you may be able to get coverage for:

  • Accidents/injury
  • Illness
  • Hospitalization
  • Emergency vet visits
  • Diagnostic testing and imagine
  • Surgery
  • Vaccinations
  • Annual physicals
  • Flea prevention
  • Dental trauma
  • Behavioral problems
  • Rehabilitation
  • Some alternative therapies

Reimbursement Amount

With most providers, you can choose the reimbursement amount you want, which is generally a percentage of what you paid for the care. The reimbursement percentages generally range anywhere from 60%-100% of the cost.

Deductible

Like human health insurance, pet insurance has an annual deductible. Once the annual deductible is met, you will not need to pay it again for the remainder of the year. The deductible for pet insurance tends to be much lower than for human health insurance, usually in the $100-$500 range.

Annual Limit

Most plans have a maximum amount they will pay out for care during the policy term. You can usually choose which annual limit you’d like, with the higher limits costing a higher premium. I’ve seen annual limits of $2,500 for the lower level plans, $10,000-$15,000 for the middle tier, and unlimited for the highest level of coverage.

How is the cost of pet insurance determined?

The cost of pet insurance depends on the coverages you select as well as the pet covered.

Your pet’s breed and age will be the biggest factors in determining the cost of your policy, but your location will also play a role. As your pet gets older, the price of pet insurance increases since the likelihood of illness increases with age.

What information is needed to quote pet insurance?

  • Name of your pet
  • Age
  • Breed
  • Sex
  • Your information (name, address, etc.)

Integrity First can help you explore your pet insurance options. Frankly, we don’t really make a living by selling pet insurance, but we are passionate about animals and advocate strongly for their care. We just want to do our part in ensuring the health and well-being of all of the furry friends out there, so we are happy to help you find an affordable care option for your pet!

Fun fact:

Lassie was the first pet in America to be covered by pet insurance!

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