Pet insurance plans can be difficult to compare exactly. coverage, exclusions and price variations make it difficult to calculate the potential value of each plan. Here’s how to find the best pet insurance for you.
choose the best type of pet insurance plan for you
Do you want pet insurance that goes the extra mile every time, or do you want to keep costs down with an accident-only plan that pays nothing for pet illnesses? or something in between?
Comprehensive pet insurance plans that cover a wide range of health and wellness-related issues are often the most expensive, but may be worth considering if you want comprehensive coverage.
Pet insurance can generally be divided into these types of plans:
- comprehensive coverage. sometimes called a “nose to tail” policy, typically provides coverage for accidents and injuries, including serious or chronic illnesses, hereditary conditions, diagnostic tests, surgeries , treatments, and wellness, such as routine vet checkups and vaccinations.
- accident and illness coverage. This type of policy typically covers vet bills for accidents (such as a broken lca) and diseases, including common diseases, inherited conditions, and serious illnesses (such as cancer). You won’t have coverage for wellness exams like routine veterinary visits, flea and heartworm prevention, or vaccinations, but you can often add a wellness plan for comprehensive coverage.
- accident- coverage only. This type of policy covers vet bills only if your pet is injured in an accident and you will not be covered for medical bills related to the illness.
- wellness coverage. This type of plan covers wellness-related medical expenses, such as routine veterinary checkups, flea and heartworm prevention, and vaccinations. you can often add wellness benefits to an accident and illness plan.
find the level of coverage you feel comfortable with
When you buy a pet insurance policy, you typically select an annual maximum, deductible, and reimbursement level.
- Annual Maximum Coverage: You will usually be able to choose a maximum annual payment level. this is the limit on how much the pet insurance plan will pay per year. Many pet insurance plans offer options between $5,000 and unlimited payments. choosing an unlimited payment will increase your premium, but you won’t have to worry about exceeding your annual maximum if your pet needs a very expensive treatment.
- deductible: choosing a higher deductible high will lower your monthly pet insurance bill. typical deductible options are $100, $250 and $500. once you meet your deductible, you can submit the vet bills to your pet’s insurance company for reimbursement. trupanion offers a single lifetime deductible per condition: you’ll pay a deductible once for each new condition, with no reset every year.
- reimbursement percentage: you’ll choose a reimbursement level when buy the plan, and the lower the reimbursement level, the less you’ll pay in pet insurance premiums. the most common refund options are 70%, 80%, or 90%.
check the pet insurance waiting periods
A waiting period is the time between the date the policy is purchased and the start of coverage. every pet insurance company has waiting periods. make sure you find one you feel comfortable with. For example, Hug has a waiting period of just two days for accident coverage. other plans, like aspca pet health insurance, have 14 days.
Also, beware of special waiting periods for certain conditions, such as cruciate ligament problems. for example, hug has a six-month waiting period for orthopedic conditions for dogs, but the aspca plan does not have a waiting period for orthopedic conditions or any other specific problems.
pet insurance discounts
Pet insurance discounts are a great way to save. Here are some common discounts:
- multiple pet discount. Many insurers offer a discount if you insure more than one pet.
- spay/neuter discount. Some insurers offer discounts to pet owners who have their pet spayed or neutered.
- annual payment discount. You can often lower costs by paying your annual premium in one lump sum. sum.
- military discount. some insurers offer discounts for military and veterans.
- group discount at work. some employers offer pet insurance as a voluntary benefit, which could give you a 5%-10% discount.
- bundle discount. you can get up to a 10% discount when you bundle a pet insurance with a lemonade renters or homeowners insurance policy.
other pet insurance comparison factors
Here are two more factors to consider when shopping for a pet insurance plan:
- exam fees. When you take your pet to the vet for an accident or illness, you pay an exam fee, which costs $100 or more, depending on the vet and the type of visit. make sure the policy covers these exam fees because not all of them do.
- Benefits. Look for additional benefits like a 24-hour veterinary helpline in case your pet get sick at night. As another example, pet insurance members nationwide have access to preferred prices on pet prescriptions at any Walmart pharmacy.