1. Do pet insurance policies cover “well-care” or “routine care” visits?

Maintaining consistent routine care is the best way to minimize your pet’s medical expenses. With preventative care, like annual exams and diagnostic testing, your veterinarian can detect diseases before they escalate into serious problems.

Many pet insurance companies offer policies for every budget, with “well-care” visits included in the higher-priced plans. Other pet insurers offer routine care as an add-on, with additional fees. If you purchase an inexpensive plan, odds are you will need to pay for routine veterinary visits out-of-pocket.

2. My pet isn’t sick, why would I want pet insurance? Can’t I wait until my pet is older and then get a pet insurance policy?

It’s wise to research pet insurance companies when your pet is young and healthy for various reasons. For starters, most pet insurers exclude pre-existing conditions—which means your coverage will be insufficient if you purchase it when your pet is sick.

Secondly, some pet insurance companies charge higher premiums for older pets, or worse, won’t cover them at all. Lastly, most plans take effect after a waiting period of a month or longer to prevent people from purchasing policies to make specific claims.

3.Do pet insurance companies restrict policy holders to specific veterinarians?

Most pet insurance companies allow policy holders to see the veterinarian of their choice. Here is how pet insurance works: you pay for the cost of treatment upfront and submit a claim to the insurance company.

The pet insurer then reimburses a portion of the cost, minus a deductible and co-payment. Since the insurance company doesn’t interact directly with the provider, you’re free to choose any veterinarian, anywhere.

4. At what age should I ensure my pets?

Pet insurance companies typically begin insuring pets as early as seven to eight weeks into a young pet’s life. Given that puppies and kittens can be accident prone, you should consider insuring your pet as soon as he/she is old enough.

5. Can I really afford pet insurance? It sounds expensive.

Absolutely. Most pet insurance companies offer several plan options, ranging from emergency-only plans to more expensive plans that include perks like dental care and vaccinations. If you’re on a strict budget, consider an emergency-only plan, which typically runs about twenty dollars a year.

6. I rent an apartment. Are there any insurance plans that cover pet damage?

Yes. Several plans have been designed especially for tenants who are renting. These plans cover certain illnesses and accidents, as well as reimbursement to a third party for any and all pet-related damage.

7. Do I have to pay a deductible for pet insurance?

Generally speaking, most plans require a deductible. Many plans require that you pay a deductible before services are rendered. However, there are plans that carry a higher premium and require no deductible.

8. Should I get a discount insurance plan or a comprehensive insurance plan?

This really depends on what you need. Discount plans require you to pay an annual fee and offer discounted veterinarian services. A comprehensive plan typically requires a deductible and offers partial to complete coverage of illnesses, vaccinations, and other pet care needs.

9. Does my pet insurance policy take effect right away?

Typically there is a waiting period when any insurance policy is issued. Make sure to read the fine print; insurance companies can often take up to a week to activate a policy.

10. Can pet insurance be cancelled?

Yes. Just like a human insurance policy, pet insurance policies can be canceled. Some companies require thirty days notice while other companies will cancel your policy on the day of your request.

11. I don’t believe that people actually spend money on pet health insurance. Is it really that popular?

According to the American Pet Product Manufacturers Association, pet owners spend almost $11 billion on veterinary care each year. When you consider that the average dog or cat owner is likely to face vet bills of over $1,000 at least once during their pet’s lifetime, pet health insurance is a solid investment.

12. Do some pet insurance companies have exclusions for large breeds?

Some do. Many large dog breeds have a history of hip dysplasia, including German Shepherds, Great Danes, Staffordshire Terriers, and Rottweilers.

13. What is a cap schedule?

A cap schedule is the maximum amount that a pet insurance company will pay out for certain fixed conditions. These fixed conditions include things like the loss of an arm or a leg or the treatment of cancerous diseases. It’s important to talk with your pet health insurance company about their cap schedules to make sure that their limits are flexible enough for the specific health needs of your pets.

14. Do pet insurance companies cover prescriptions?

Many do. Make sure to ask for a rider to the main policy to ensure that your pet’s prescriptions will be covered.

15. Why should I spay or neuter my pet? I only have one pet and he/she is never going to be allowed outdoors.

Spayed or neutered animals are less likely to show aggressive behaviors, like marking their territory or acting hostile toward house guests. Also, removing the reproductive organs in female cats and dogs reduces the risk of mammary cancer and eliminates the possibility of ovarian cancer.

16. If I have pet insurance, do I still need to take my cat or dog in for regular checkups?

Many pet health insurance companies require owners to bring their cats and dogs in for twice-yearly checkups. Make sure to inquire about routine lab work and blood pressure checks, both which can help your vet find any possible health problems early on.

17. Is it hard to file a pet insurance claim?

While each pet insurance company is different, most only require pet owners to fill out a simple claim form. The form must also be signed by the pet’s veterinarian, who typically includes a diagnosis. When you mail in your claim, make sure to include a copy of your receipt or invoice.

18. When I get pet insurance, do I have to pay my vet or does the insurance company pay my vet for me?

Check with your pet’s health care insurance provider. Typically, most providers require you to pay your veterinarian’s fees upfront. After the fees are paid, you will be reimbursed for the costs covered by your pet insurance company. Check with your provider to determine whether you or your veterinarian is required to file the appropriate paperwork for reimbursements.

19.  How to choose between annual deductible and per-incident deductible?

Some plans have deductibles that are yearly and some that are per-incident. It depends upon how much your per incident is on one plan and how much the annual deductible is on the competing plan. With annual deductible, each policy year you are required to satisfy a given dollar amount before the insurance company will pay out anything. Once you reach that amount – you won’t have to pay any more. With per incident deductible, your deductible is applied to each incident. Every time you have to take your pet in to see the veterinarian you are required to satisfy a given dollar amount before the insurance company will pay out anything. You might also want to consider how does changing the deductible change the premium.

20. How does an insurance company decide on its fee limits?

Several national veterinary associations conduct fee surveys each year to help insurance companies determine their reimbursement guidelines. These guidelines typically dictate the limitations on procedures like spaying/neutering, vaccinations, and physical exams.

21. Does pet health insurance cover wilderness incidents, like snake or spider bites?

Definitely. If your dog or cat is attacked by a venomous creature, get him or her to the vet asap. Vials of anti-venom are very expensive when purchased without pet insurance, giving you yet another reason to insure your outdoor pet.

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