4 things to know about your pet insurance coverage

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Don’t buy pet insurance without understanding these four crucial facts.


Key points

  • Pet insurance provides important protection for animals.
  • Homeowners need to know how their policies work.
  • Specifically, it’s important to understand the deductible and other coverage rules.

Pet insurance helps ensure that companion animals can get the care they need. But when owners buy policies for their pets, it’s important that they understand how their policies work so they know what they will and won’t cover, and what out-of-pocket costs they’re likely to incur.

Specifically, there are four important things every pet owner should know. This is what they are.

1. The deductible

Pet insurance policies generally have a deductible. That is the amount an owner must pay out of pocket for veterinary care before services are covered. Depending on the policy, the deductible can range from around $100 to around $500, although it is possible to get plans with lower or higher deductible amounts.

Pet owners should make sure they can meet the deductible so they can pay for their share of the care their animals need. It may be a good idea to save the required amount in a special bank account.

Owners should also find out if the deductible is per year or per occurrence. If it is due to an incident, they must contribute the money each time their animal takes advantage of the services of a veterinarian.

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2. Coverage exclusions

Pet insurance policies do not cover all types of veterinary care. Routine wellness care typically won’t be covered under a standard policy unless the pet owner purchases additional optional coverage for routine medical services, such as exams and vaccinations. All pet insurance policies also exclude pre-existing conditions, which are medical problems that an animal is diagnosed with before the insurance is purchased.

Some pet insurance policies also don’t cover various types of hereditary or genetic defects, and owners should be aware of the types of things their plans won’t cover.

3. Coinsurance costs

It is common for pet insurance policies to require owners to pay coinsurance costs. For example, the insurer may agree to pay 80% or 90% of care costs, leaving the owner responsible for covering the remaining 10% or 20% of vet bills.

Higher coinsurance costs leave owners with more potential out-of-pocket costs in situations where their animal gets sick. But policies with lower coinsurance costs generally have higher premiums. Owners must trade off between paying more up front to avoid the risk of large bills later, or paying lower premiums but potentially having to take on more responsibility for vet bills if an animal is sick or injured.

4. Policy limits

Finally, pet owners should make sure they know the limits of their coverage. It is very common for pet insurance policies to have annual limits on the amount of care the plan will pay for. For example, the insurer may offer coverage for up to $15,000 in care during the year, or more.

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While not all policies have these limits, those that do could leave homeowners alone when it comes to paying for expensive treatment. Those who want to ensure their animal receives the best possible care should consider paying higher premiums for higher policy limits or saving for excess care costs.

By understanding these four key details about a pet insurance policy, animal owners can ensure they have the coverage they need to provide their pets with the best veterinary services when something goes wrong.