Pet health insurance is no different to other types of insurance – you take it out and hope madly that you don’t need to use it and have paid it for nothing. However if you do need to use it, the right policy can be a massive benefit both financial and for simplicity. So what should you look out for in a good pet health insurance policy?
Any insurance policy has exclusions and limitations and, unfortunately, pet insurance is the same. So before you buy a product, make sure you familiarise yourself with these. One of the most common ones is the exclusion of any pre-existing condition. This means, for example, if your cat had a cancerous tumour removed three years ago before you were insured and the cancer returned after you were insured, you wouldn’t be covered for it. Therefore, if you pet has a history of medical conditions it can be almost worthless to have coverage unless you can find one without this exclusion.
Other things that are often excluded from policies including neutering or spaying, vaccinations, flea control, dental care and hip-dysplasia. Other policies state that they won’t cover some illnesses unless the cat was neutered before its first birthday.
If you already have a vet and you want to stick with them, make sure you can do this with the policy prior to purchase. Most insurers have a list of approved vets that they use and there is no guarantee that your vet is on that list or that the nearest vet is anywhere near where you live. So make sure the policy you choose allows you this freedom.
With any insurance policy, there is always plenty of technical jargon that anyone not working in the industry will merely frown at. A few of the most important terms and what they mean are:
Deductible – a deductible is the amount of money that must be paid from your pocket before the insurer will pay out any further costs. It can also be referred to as an excess in some types of insurance. It is aimed at lessening the number of trivial, small cost claims and in pet health insurance is usually the first $50-100.
Incident cap – this is the total amount that the company will pay towards a single illness or procedure and comes usually in two forms. One will be an annual cap where the company will not pay more than that amount in any one policy year while the other is a lifetime cap and applies to the lifetime of your pet. When selecting a policy, bear in mind what this figure is as while a lower number may mean a lower price, it can also mean a larger amount of money you could end up paying over the top of the incident cap.
Benefits and savings
Some companies have a range of different products that can be tailored to your cat. For example, some are aimed specifically at senior cats while others cover for accident only. You can also add extensions to some policy to cover things like dental care or an extended cancer coverage beyond what the standard policy offers. Some also offer cover for property damage liability to a 3rd party when caused by your pet, boarding fees, holiday cancellation cover due to their illness and even money towards advertising for a missing pet.
If you have more than one pet, there are also some companies that give you up to a 15% discount if you insure multiple pets with them. Some of these will be on a single policy while others will have a one for each pet, so again, watch those exclusions.