Wohoo! Insurance! Everybody loves the intentionally confusing, often vexatious, never simple world of insurance, right? Well, am I right? No?!? Didn’t think so!
I am certainly glad that there are people out there to help us navigate the waters of finding the right insurance plan for us and our families. Home, auto, renters, life, health, flood, and the list goes on and on. Luckily, insurance for our pets is a little less complicated than the others in the list. To date, every one that we at Apex are familiar with, operate in a very similar fashion. Fluffy comes to visit Apex and is seen by our awesome Team, you pay the invoice for the visit, and the receipt is submitted to your insurance carrier for reimbursement. Pretty simple. Well, kind of…
How much you are reimbursed (or even IF) is the question. This totally depends on the policy you have in place with whatever company you selected, and what exactly they may or may not cover. Our valued clients often come to us for guidance in making their selections from the myriad of options. Our (intentionally vague) answer is “It depends”. So helpful, we know…
There are a bunch of providers out there. We at Apex have found that each one of them has their pro’s and con’s, and the policy that may work well for the Jones’ may not be the best plan for the Smith’s. In fact, the families may have different plans for each pet, based on specie, breed, sex, age, etc. The guidance we can give really boils down to NOT going by price alone, and reading all of the fine print. Here is our top list of things to consider when trying to determine what plan(s) will be best for your family:
- Pre-existing conditions – We were told by a client that an insurance company denied a claim for a 7 year old dog that had a skin infection, based on the fact that this same dog had an infection when she was less than a year old! Seems a bit ridiculous, but it’s true. If your pet has a history of medical problems, they will frequently be excluded from coverage with a new policy. One of our big recommendations is to get your plan in place EARLY (before there is a history of problems). The best times is when they are a puppy or a kitten that has not even had a diagnosis/treatment on their file!
- Breed Specific Exclusions – Some underwriters will exclude a whole breed from certain coverage because of their genetic history. For example, hip dysplasia in German Shepherds, Cancer in Boxers, ANYTHING related to breathing on brachiocephalic pets (those with smooshed noses like Himalayan Cats, English Bulldogs, Pugs, etc.)
- Wellness Plans – Does the policy cover vaccinations, annual bloodwork, heartworm prevention, or other things an otherwise healthy pet still needs? Sometimes even within the same insurance company they may have different plans, or perhaps a “wellness rider” that can be added to include these wellness items.
- Good, Better, or Best Plan? – Many companies have different “tiers” that offer different coverage. The “Good” plan may only cover your pet in the event of something catastrophic like being hit by a car, breaking a leg, or some other such unforeseen accident. The “Better” plan may have added coverage for regular problems like an ear infection or a hot spot. The “Best” plan will usually include the wellness types of items mentioned in #3 above and may even include a spay/neuter for year 1 and a dental cleaning each subsequent year. It all depends on what works best for your family, but of course is directly tied to the premiums you will have to pay.
- Age limits – We LOVE our older pets, but the insurance companies sometimes short-change the older furry kids. There are a number of underwriters that will not create new policies for pets over a certain age.
- Maximum Payment Limits – What are the maximum limits for reimbursement? Is it per incident, per pet, per diagnosis, or some other such structure? Some companies have no limits, while others can be a little stingy, especially when it comes to some of the wellness items. Again, these limits will be tied to your premiums.
- Deductibles – Each carrier has them, and they can vary greatly. From $0 to $1,000, and of course these are also related to the premiums.
In short, you have to read the fine print for each company and figure out what will work for your family to keep your pets adequately protected, but work within your budget. Here’s a handy little resource to help with your comparison:
These guys are an unbiased resource that do a great job trying to compare “apples to apples” in the pet insurance fruit bowl.