How does pet insurance work?

Christmas cat in present with Santa Hat

Bringing home a new pet is an exciting time. Once you’ve bought all the essentials—the bowl, food, crate, and toys… it’s time to think about pet insurance. 1 out of 3 pets will need emergency veterinary care in their lifetime, so veterinarians recommend pet insurance to all pet owners.

When should I buy pet insurance?

The best time to buy pet insurance is soon after adopting your pet. Pet insurance companies will not cover a pre-existing condition, so it’s better to have pet insurance before any issues arise. All pet insurance has a waiting period before coverage kicks in. The waiting period is different for each plan. For example, after buying insurance you may need to wait 2 days for accidents, 14 days for illnesses, or 6 months for orthopedic conditions. If your pet has any symptoms of an illness or is diagnosed with anything during the waiting period, it will be considered a pre-existing condition and will not be covered. This is why it’s so important to buy pet insurance well in advance.

How do I find the best pet insurance coverage?

Finding pet insurance for cats or any pet is similar to finding health insurance, life insurance, or even car insurance for yourself. Shop around to get different pet insurance quotes from companies you trust. You will pay a monthly premium (fee), and your policy will have a certain deductible (the amount you owe before the policy kicks in), annual limit (the maximum amount the insurance company will pay per year), and coverage (what they will pay for) for certain veterinary expenses. You should find insurance that covers breed-specific health risks for your pet. Based on what your pet needs or what will bring your peace of mind, you can choose a policy with insurance costs that works best for you.

What does pet insurance cover?

While each plan is different, most insurance plans will cover:

  • Unexpected injuries and accidents
  • Unexpected illnesses
  • Surgery
  • Medication
  • Exam fees
  • Diagnostic tests

Some plans will cover alternative therapies, such as:

  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic care
  • Hydrotherapy

Insurance plans do not cover:

  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Routine care and wellness exams
  • Preventative care
  • Spay/Neuter
  • Vaccinations

Pre-existing conditions are never covered under pet insurance. However, if your pet is cured and does not have any symptoms or treatment for 180 days, the condition is no longer considered pre-existing. This means if that illness happens again, it will be covered.

How do I pay the vet bill?

If your pet is sick or injured, your veterinary bill can quickly add up to tens of thousands of dollars. With pet insurance, you can submit a claim and get reimbursed for the majority of your expenses. Each plan is different, but most often you are responsible for paying the vet, then you submit a claim to your insurance company, and the insurance company will reimburse you for your expense, depending on your reimbursement level.

Pet insurance should be one of the first things you buy after adopting a pet. Use this information to find the right plan, and then go out and enjoy your time with your new pet!

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