Planning ahead for your cat’s health care is no different than planning for our own health care. We never know if or when we’ll get sick and need insurance, but having it gives us peace of mind. Knowing your cat will need medical help at some point is inevitable, so it’s good to plan ahead and be able to provide the care your cat will need. Here are some tips for buying a pet health insurance plan that will meet your needs.
Pet health insurance is just one of the many options available to help pay for emergency or unexpected veterinary bills. If you’re worried about being able to pay for your cat’s chronic illness or life-saving care, an accident, or an emergency—it may be good to know there’s a safety net under you. As with any insurance, you may never need it, but if you worry about affording those one-time emergencies or unexpected expenses that you feel could cripple your finances—having pet insurance may be a good option.
Given the many new technological advances in veterinary medicine today, cats are benefitting from even better and greater treatment options. In the old days, cats would often be euthanized when diagnosed with certain diseases or conditions, but today, veterinarians have new diagnostic tools and technology to keep pets alive longer while maintaining a high quality of life. But with these advances, come more expensive treatments and veterinary bills. Having pet insurance means you can afford the best care for your cat without breaking the bank.
Obtaining a good pet health insurance plan means choosing one that fits your budget while providing the degree of care you want. Today there are many pet insurance companies to choose from, so you’ll need to compare insurance plans and policies and understand exactly what is covered and what is not, in order to find the plan that best fits your needs.
Comparing Pet Insurance Plans
Finding the best pet insurance plan means asking the right questions. Here’s a short list of considerations when evaluating and comparing pet insurance policies:
- What is the monthly premium?
- What is the deductible rate? Is the deductible charged annually or per-incident or per-visit?
- What is the copay rate? What percent?
- What are the reimbursement amounts? Are they based on reimbursements for certain conditions, is there an annual or per-incident maximum reimbursement for that condition?
- What is covered, what is not covered, for each plan?
- Are pre-existing conditions covered, what are the rules?
- Is preventative care covered (e.g. dental care, vaccines, etc.)?
- Are there lifetime accident and illness plans for lifetime care?
- Does the plan cover chronic, hereditary, and/or congenital diseases and conditions like diabetes, hyperthyroid, cancer, kidney disease and arthritis? Is there lifetime coverage for these conditions or only one-year coverage?
- Are there “family” plans for multi-cat households?
- What are the per-accident maximums or limits?
- Are there set benefit schedules (maximum coverage per condition)?
- Can you choose your own vet? Or do you need to use the plan’s network of vets?
- Can you buy additional riders to cover areas of exclusions?
- Is filing a claim easy and how fast are claims covered?
- What is the reimbursement method?
- Are there exclusive, low-cost introductory plans offered?
Plans with higher premiums will generally have a higher annual maximum for coverage provided. It may be beneficial to talk with your veterinarian before choosing a plan, and get cost estimates for the total cost of some of the most common conditions and diseases or surgery, then compare these with the benefit schedule set for each condition by the insurance company you are choosing. If the benefit schedule covers a good portion of your vet’s estimate for that condition, the plan could really help you.
Something to note–if you have an older cat, or a cat requiring lots of ongoing health care, you may want to select a plan with an annual deductible as opposed to a per-incident deductible and you may want to consider higher annual maximum coverages, particularly if your cat has a particular condition or chronic illness. These plans may be more expensive, but may be worth it to be able to provide the highest level of care for your cat. Chronic conditions become more important as your cat ages and may require long-term care, but some companies do not cover preexisting conditions, so you want to keep this in mind as your cat nears middle age and consider an insurance policy before your pet acquires a chronic illness.
List of Pet Health Insurance Companies
Here is a comprehensive list of pet insurance company websites to check out.
AKC Pet Healthcare – http://www.akcpethealthcare.com/
ASPCA Pet Health Insurance – www.aspcapetinsurance.com
Embrace Pet Insurance – www.embracepetinsurance.com
FETCH Pet Insurance – www.gopetplan.com
Hartville Pet Insurance – www.petshealthplan.com
Healthy Paws Pet Insurance – http://www.healthypawspetinsurance.com/
Healthy Pets – www.healthypets.co.uk (England)
MetLife Pet Insurance – www.petfirst.com
Pet Assure – www.petassure.com
Pets Best – www.petsbest.com
24PetWatch Pet Insurance – www.24petwatch.com/pet-insurance
Pethealth – www.pethealthinc.com
Pet Protect – www.petprotect.co.uk (England & Wales)
United Pet Care – www.unitedpetcare.com
Nationwide Pet Insurance – www.petinsurance.com
Trupanion – www.trupanion.com
Lastly, when purchasing pet health insurance check to see the level of customer satisfaction with the plans you’re considering by reviewing customer reviews posted on Yelp or the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Looking at the reviews will give you a better idea about whether that plan will meet your expectations.
And finally, don’t forget to read the fine print! Here are more options for affording the cost of emergency and expensive one-time care.
Additional Articles on Pet Insurance
Consumer’s Advocate, Best Pet Insurance Based on In-Depth Reviews (Read about their policies for ranking here.)