You have got yourself a new dog and you want to buy dog insurance but as you start doing the research, you find the whole process to be just a bit overpowering. You find that there are a dozen companies offering multiple plans with a whole slew of different coverage options. To help minimize this confusion, there are a few things that pet owners should consider while doing the research.
While it is true that each company is unique, some similarities can be ignored when you are comparing companies. Some features that are common among all companies do not even have to be considered. For instance, no company will offer coverage for pre-existing conditions. All of the companies found in the United States will allow the policyholder to use any licensed veterinarian that they choose. Each of these companies offer plans for cats and dogs.
Now we know what you can disregard, let us focus on what you should look for when you are comparing companies and their individual offers. The following are some of the key issues that you must take into consideration when it comes time to buy dog insurance for your furry kids.
What is and is not covered
Coverage ranks as the first thing that you should take into consideration when you are shopping for dog insurance. It is essential to know what is and is not covered. Some essential points that you will need to consider include:
- Conditions that are not covered: Each company will offer a comprehensive list of exclusions. Make sure you fully understand what is not covered so that you are not shocked when a claim is denied.
- Hereditary conditions: Conditions such as diabetes, heart defects and hip dysplasia are not usually covered because they are hereditary in some breeds. Some of these conditions can be the most expensive to pay for out of pocket so make sure you are aware of which companies cover these hereditary conditions and which ones do not.
- Waiting period: There is generally a waiting period, beginning on the day you enroll your dog. Different circumstances have different waiting periods, so make sure you are aware of the different waiting periods for each ailment. For instance, if your dog becomes ill after you purchase the policy, there will be a two-week waiting period before you can seek veterinary care for your pet. Two weeks is the company standard for most types of ailments although common orthopedic problems such as hip dysplasia require a wait of 12 months before claims can be submitted.
- Limited enrollment age: Some companies will not allow a dog over a certain age to receive coverage, while others limit coverage for an older pet. If your dog is older than six, this may be something to consider.
- Is routine care covered: Some companies allow for routine care. This can be a money saver if your pet does not get sick or hurt often and only visits the veterinarian for routine exams and yearly shots.
Reimbursement for claims is one of the biggest reasons you are even considering insurance for your dog so it is essential that you find out how and when you will be reimbursed for your claims. Some other things that you need to consider about claims include:
- Methods of reimbursement: Not all companies will pay the actual amount on the vet bill, which will lower the amount of your reimbursement. Look for benefit schedules in the policy.
- Payout percentages: Not all companies pay out the total cost of treatment. In fact, most only pay a percentage of the total bill.
- Deductibles: Most companies will offer either an annual or a per incident deductible. Many will allow you to choose which you prefer.
- Limits on reimbursement: Make sure the company you select has high enough reimbursement limits. Usually there are three types of limits; lifetime, annual and per incident.
- Process of claims: How the company processes the claims is something to consider. For instance, do they reimburse you or work directly with the veterinarian?
Although you have to stay within your own personal budget, you should not make the price be your sole focus. While some companies may charge a bit more, their coverage may be worth it while at the same time the lower priced bargain policies may not provide the type or level of coverage that you are looking for. Look to see if they offer a free trial period or if they offer various discounts while you are complete your research on the company.
How to contact the company
If you have any questions, you should contact the company directly. Most companies offer trained staff that are knowledgeable and able to answer any questions about the insurance they have to offer. These companies typically understand that customer service must be a priority in their line of business and they are generally happy to help you with your questions and concerns.
Extras to consider
Many times dog insurance policies will include extras. Sometimes these are included free while other policies may charge a small fee to add them. Some of the most common extras that are found in policies may include the following:
- Advertising if your dog becomes lost or goes missing
- Reimbursement of the purchase price of your dog if he or she dies
- Coverage if your pet damages personal property or causes personal injury
- Boarding fees in the event of owner illness
- Reimbursement of cancelled vacation plans in the event the dog becomes ill
When making a choice it is important to realize that every company is going to claim that they offer the best coverage, lowest deductibles and more. However, your best bet in finding the best company is to do thorough research and find third-party review sites where other consumers have posted their opinions and experiences. This will allow you the best chance of finding a good company for your dog insurance.
List of Dog Insurance Providers
- AKC Pet Healthcare
- ASPCA Pet Health Insurance
- Embrace Pet Insurance
- Hartville Group
- Healthy Paws Pet Insurance & Foundation
- Petplan Pet Insurance
- Pets Best Insurance
- Petshealth Care Plan
- Protect Your Bubble
- Purina Care – Merged with 24PetWatch
- ShelterCare Pet Insurance Pet – No website