Pet Insurance

What is pet insurance?

Pet insurance works similarly to human health insurance. If your pet is involved in an accident or develops an illness, and you've already purchased pet insurance to cover them, the pet insurance company you've chosen will reimburse you for part of your veterinary costs. 

Each pet insurance plan varies, but your insurance company should cover a set percentage of your costs (agreed upon in your contract), after you've paid your annual deductible. Depending on the level of coverage, most policies cover between 70 and 90 percent of treatment costs after deductible.

Policies can cover routine exams to accidents and prescriptions. However, unlike health insurance, pet insurance only reimburses you after you've already paid the vet bills. Be sure to read the fine print, as most include exclusions for pre-existing conditions, preventable diseases or parasites.

cat pet insurance

You can purchase an insurance plan for cats or dogs. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Jody M. of Salt Lake City)

What types of pet insurance can I buy?

Most pet insurance companies offer three levels of insurance plans. The most basic plan typically includes partial coverage of veterinary charges in the case of an accident. Intermediate plans usually cover any sudden illness and the bills associated with that, including medication, X-rays, lab tests and surgeries.

If your pet becomes lost, some intermediate plans may even cover the offer of a reward to the person who finds it. The most advanced plans go a step further and usually cover hereditary issues and sometimes behavioral issues. The highest level plan may even give a payout when the pet dies.

Some companies divide their plans into accident, illness and general wellness packages.

Keep in mind that most companies won't cover pets with pre-existing health conditions. Buy insurance when your pet is young and healthy if you think the breed is prone to issues as they get older.

Many plans also will not cover your pet's annual expenses, including yearly exams and vaccinations, as insurance companies consider those visits to be an expected, regular cost of owning a pet.

Because plans vary at each pet insurance company, be sure to get details about what each plan entails before purchasing insurance.

How much does pet insurance cost?

Pet insurance costs vary depending on which level plan you select for your cat or dog. Insurance for cats tends to be slightly cheaper than dogs.

Dog insurance:

- Basic: $10 to $20/month

- Intermediate: $15 to $30/month

- Advanced: $30+month

Cat insurance:

- Basic: $10/month

- Intermediate: $10 to $20/month

- Advanced: $15+/month

You must also pay a deductible before the company reimburses for a pet insurance claim. Most cost about $100, but deductibles can range from $50 to $500.

dog pet insurance

Dog insurance plans can range from $10 to more than $30 per month. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Elaine R. of St. Louis)

How to find the best insurance for your pet

Before purchasing a pet insurance plan, shop around. What exactly do you want your pet insurance plan to cover? Consider your pet and their genetic and medical history. 

Do you have a dog breed that tends to develop certain illnesses? Look for a plan that covers hereditary illnesses.

Has your pet had health issues in the past that may eventually resurface? Anything on your pet's medical records that relates to a health condition that arises later may qualify the new issue as one that existed prior to coverage. Find a plan that covers pre-existing conditions.

If your pet spends a lot of time outdoors or has the tendency to run away, you may be best suited for an accident-centered plan.

If you're still unsure about which pet insurance plan would be best for your cat or dog, speak with your veterinarian to get his or her opinion.

You can find highly rated pet insurance companies under the Pet Insurance category on Angie's List. Want to see how many pet insurance companies service your area, and find other related info? Search for your city here and look under Pet Insurance.

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