What to Look for in a Pet Insurance Plan

As the interest in pet insurance has grown, we’ve seen an expansion in the industry and additional companies offering plans. You’ll definitely want to compare plans with a number of companies, and it’s also good to speak with your vet. Veterinarians or their front desk staff may have some valuable experiences to share about working with particular companies and plans.

When you first start exploring, here are the primary items you want to check with each company or plan:

  • When should I buy pet insurance? If considering insurance, buy it while pet is young and healthy. Like insurance for humans, premiums go up when age goes up or when health goes down.
  • How do policies differ? Prices and coverage can vary widely, so make sure to gather actual quotes from several companies.
  • Is there coverage for preventive treatment? Many plans nowadays cover regular checkups and only require you to pay a co-pay, just as you would for your annual physical. Look for this information, as well as how much that co-pay would be. Explore which vaccinations they cover. Some plans may cover the office visit fee, but not the procedures or shots given.
  • How do they treat pre-existing conditions? You’ll find that most pet insurance companies will not cover a condition if it was diagnosed before purchasing the plan, so do your research.
  • Which type of plan is right for me? Most companies offer accident, wellness and illness plans. They cover just what they say they do, but again, read the fine print about the specifics of coverage.
  • What is their rating with the Better Business Bureau? The BBB is the perfect place to check the credibility of an insurance company and to view complaints from other consumers. Don’t skip this step!
  • What is the claim process? Most pet insurance plans will not pay up front. You will pay the vet and then submit a detailed/itemized receipt to the insurance company for reimbursement. Some claims processes can be tedious, so read or ask about them before making a decision.
  • Does the policy cover cancer? In some cases, you have to carry a separate policy to have cancer treatment covered. Since this is the number one disease that kills our pets, if you’re paying for health insurance, you want this coverage.
  • Do I need large breed coverage? Large breeds can often incur more medical expenses than their tiny cousins. Some companies offer policies specifically for bigger dogs, and they often have higher payouts for coverage. It’s worth checking into if you have more than a lapful of pup.
  • How long will they provide coverage? Beware the age clause. Some companies will not cover a pet after age 14. So even if you have paid and paid and paid for years and not used coverage, at age 14 the pet is dropped, and that is often when expensive medical care is needed. For dogs, particularly large breeds, it is less likely they make it to age 14, but for small dogs or cats, they can routinely live to age 14 and beyond.

The 411 on Pet Insurance

As pet insurance becomes more and more popular, I find many of my clients are wondering just exactly what it is. Just like our personal health insurance, pet insurance provides financial coverage for many of your pet’s medical expenditures. But also like our human health insurance, there are a variety of plans, and you must always read the fine print to be clear on coverage. All plans and companies are not created equal!

Lisa Marino, CPDT-KA, KPA-CTP, PMCT, has taken her varied teaching experiences and applied them to helping owners understand and train their beloved four-legged family members. She has more than four years’ experience leading group dog training classes at Best Paw Forward in Hartland, WI, and opened Head of the Class Dog Training LLC in Winchester, VA in 2012, where she conducts group classes and private lessons, as well as helps owners to modify their dogs' problem behaviors.

Lisa earned her CPDT-KA in 2012, is a 2015 graduate of the prestigious Karen Pryor Academy and is a Pat Miller Certified Trainer.

She has 4 registered therapy dogs and is a Pet Partner Therapy Team Evaluator and a member of HOPE AACR. As a former middle school teacher, she works well with families and children and does school presentations on various dog related topics.

Making the decision of whether or not to purchase pet insurance is an individual one. Some people just prefer to set up a separate savings account for their pet’s care. Whichever way you turn, explore your options so you can make an informed choice. And if you need some help with your pet’s healthy, energetic behavior in the meantime, give me a call!

Head of the Class Dog Training LLC 

Winchester, VA

Winchester's Premium Professional Pet Training