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Pet Insurance

Hi everyone, it’s Dr. Christina Martini writing this month about a topic we get frequent questions on – Pet Insurance!

In general, I feel that Pet Insurance is a good idea. However, it is important to understand how it works and how it doesn’t work. Unlike human health insurance, pet insurance does not generally cover routine wellness visits like annual exams, vaccinations, spaying/neutering or dental cleanings. What pet insurance DOES cover is injuries and illnesses – which can become quite costly! Basically you pay a fee each month (usually anywhere from $25-65 per month for a dog) and then your pet is covered if an unexpected expense comes up.

When selecting a plan it is important to know your deductible (amount YOU will pay out of pocket before insurance kicks in) and choose one within your budget. Deductibles usually range from $250 – $1,000. The higher the deductible you choose, then lower your monthly payment.

It is also important to know what percent of the vet bill after the deductible you will be responsible for. Most plans range from 70-90%. Again, the higher the percent the insurance company covers, the higher your monthly payment.

An additional important point about Pet Insurance is that it does NOT cover pre-existing conditions. Therefore, it is best to sign up right when you get your new addition. You can still get insurance on older pets or a pet with an illness; however, the insurance will only cover NEW accidents and illnesses, not any currently existing.

Here is an example of how this works. Imagine your lab, Tucker, gets hit by a car and you have to rush him to the emergency clinic where he has to undergo many tests followed by surgery and multiple days in the hospital. The bill could easily reach $10,000 or more. If you chose an insurance plan with a $500 deductible that paid 90% of the vet bill – your total out of pocket expense would be $1,450 instead of $10,000. Do note however that pet insurance companies do not pay veterinarians directly. They reimburse YOU, not the vet for the total bill. That means you are still responsible for the total bill up front.

There are many insurance companies out there, and I will admit I have not done an exhaustive search of every one. In general it is best to be weary of insurance companies that have exclusions such as “does not cover knee surgery” or companies that list max payouts per condition (ex: foreign body removal surgery  payout = $540). Those of us at SWVH with insurance for our own pets generally pick either Trupanion or Pet’s Best as they have easy to understand policies, good customer service, great track records for reimbursement and do not have unnecessary exclusions.

Please feel free to contact us for brochures or more information!

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