How does pet insurance work?

In order to get pet insurance, you fill out an application online or by phone. The insurance company verifies the information provided with your vet, and then your policy is active. Typically, there is a short waiting period before you can make a claim.

Unlike human health insurance companies, most pet insurance policies do not make payments directly to the provider. To make a claim on your pet insurance policy, you pay the provider directly and then submit the claim and receipts to the insurance company for reimbursement.

What types of pet insurance can you get for an adopted pet?

Pet insurance policies have a variety of choices with respect to deductibles, annual premiums, and coverage options. Here are some of the most popular coverage options.

  • Wellness: A wellness plan only covers what is considered to be part of a typical annual check-up with the vet. This includes things like the wellness exam, micro-chipping, routine blood work, vaccinations, and preventative care against heartworms, fleas, and ticks.
  • ​Medical: Medical insurance plans do not cover any of the basic wellness expenses that would be part of a wellness plan. Medical plans provide coverage for expenses that arise from an injury or illness. Types of care typically covered by the medical insurance policy can include infections, allergies, dental care, skin growths and tumors, fractures and tissue injuries, and diseases.
  • Complete/Comprehensive: A complete pet insurance policy combines both wellness care and medical care coverage. While medical plans limit or exclude coverage for the treatment of hereditary disorders, complete insurance plans do cover these treatment costs. In other words, these plans can cover almost every medical-related pet expense.

Pet insurance for adopted pets: What isn’t covered?

Pre-existing conditions and hereditary disorders are often excluded from most pet insurance plans. However, some pre-existing conditions can be waived from exclusion if a vet can provide evidence that the disorder has been cured for a specific period of time.

There may also be waiting periods for certain issues. This is particularly true for major injuries such as ligament and meniscus tears.

If your pet might require additional coverage, you should look at one of the complete or comprehensive types of insurance policies for your pet. These may cover mild presentations of congenital anomalies and disorders. Although comprehensive plans typically provide coverage of hereditary disorders, other pre-existing conditions are still excluded.

Also, keep in mind insurance is intended for wellness exams with a vet and medical problems requiring normal veterinary care. Even the most inclusive policies don’t cover expenses like training, food, boarding, and grooming.

Does it make sense to get pet insurance after adoption?

Whether it does or does not make sense to get pet insurance is an individual question. Before getting pet insurance, you should research all of the options and costs associated with different types of plans.

Comprehensive plans offer the greatest coverage and benefits, but also have the highest annual premium. If you have a puppy or kitten that seems pretty healthy and is not a breed typically susceptible to hereditary disorders, the cost might not make sense for you.

Generally, you need to make a decision about how much you would be willing to pay out of your own pocket for major pet medical expenses. In some cases, the cost of insurance premiums over time nearly meets the amount of insurance coverage for the medical treatment. Due to the exclusions of pre-existing conditions, however, it is best to buy pet insurance while your pet is still young.

Alternatives to pet insurance

If you are still not sure about pet insurance, there are a couple of other alternatives to consider.

Consider a pet wellness plan. Other companies, such as Eusoh and Wagmo offer alternative forms of coverage for your pets. These plans typically don’t cover catastrophic surgeries and some other forms of coverage, but they may also come with substantially lower monthly premiums.

Save the monthly insurance premium. Rather than paying out the premium to the insurance company every month or every year, deposit that money into a special savings account. You can even request a direct deposit into a savings account to make sure you stick to your savings plan.

If you need the money to put toward your pet’s medical expenses, you have it. If you don’t end up using all of the money during the lifetime of your pet, you can use the funds as you choose. Just keep in mind that the cost of treatment may exceed the amount you have saved.

Look into veterinary care financing programs. Most vet offices have financing options to help you pay for more expensive services and treatments. The vet may allow you to pay a certain percentage up front and then make monthly payments on the remaining balance. Others might direct you to apply for third-party financing companies. You would then make monthly payments similar to a credit card or loan.

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