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Pet insurance provides crucial protection for companion animals. But some pet insurance policies meet your needs better than others.
To narrow down their search quickly, pet owners should start by asking themselves the following two questions right off: Is my pet neither a cat nor a dog? Do I need coverage for pre-existing conditions? If the answer to either question is "yes," options will narrow significantly.
This guide to choosing a pet insurance company will help animal owners make sure they have the coverage they need at the best possible price.
There are many different pet insurance companies out there. And each company offers multiple policy options.
Owners will need to consider monthly premium costs, coverage limitations (and exclusions), and out-of-pocket expenses. It's also important to consider the insurer's reputation for handling claims.
Remember to look at the big picture and not just the monthly premium price. There's often a tradeoff between the comprehensiveness of the coverage and the cost of a policy. The best pet insurance companies combine the best of both: wide coverage and market-beating prices.
In short, there's a lot to think about. Let's narrow it down to the important stuff. When choosing a pet insurance company, consider the following key points:
Ready for a deeper dive into what to look for? Read on.
Pet owners first must make sure that the pet insurance company they work with covers the type of companion animal they have. Most policies cover dogs and cats. Some also cover exotic animals like birds, ferrets, or reptiles.
Pet owners must then choose the right kinds of coverage for their needs. Coverage can be broadly divided into three categories:
Not all insurers offer all types of coverage. So pet owners will need to make sure they work with a company offering their desired type of policy.
Pet insurance typically pays for licensed veterinary care. But it may not cover all types of care in all circumstances. Owners should make sure the policy they choose covers the services they may need for their companion animal. Look for these key benefits:
Policies with more benefits can ensure that pet owners can get all the care they may require. But they often cost more. This translates into higher premiums.
Premiums are the cost of coverage. Premiums can be paid monthly or annually. Cost depends on many factors, including the type of animal (dog? cat?) as well as the animal's age at the time of coverage.
Premiums vary a lot from one insurer to the next. It's often possible to get pet insurance quotes online to find policies offering the most affordable premiums. Just remember, a cheap, limited policy is less likely to cover non-standard incidents.
A deductible is money owners must pay before pet insurance kicks in. For example, a policy might have a $500 per year deductible or a $100 per incident deductible. This money is paid by the animal's owner when a covered service is needed. The insurance policy kicks in after.
Many pet insurers have coinsurance requirements, a percentage of care the policy owner must cover after paying the deductible. An insurer may only reimburse 90% or 80% of the cost of covered care. The animal's owner would need to cover the remaining 10% to 20% of care.
Pet insurers may impose annual limits on coverage. For example, the insurer may pay for up to $15,000 in care per year. If a pet needed more expensive care, the owner would have to pay for it out of pocket.
It's important for pet owners to research each pet insurer's reputation for customer care. Owners should make sure that the insurer has a strong reputation for handling claims. No one wants to fight with insurance to get care reimbursement when their pet is sick.
There are many important terms to know when buying pet insurance coverage, including:
Generally speaking, the less your insurance covers, the cheaper it should be. Pet owners typically pay $20 to $50 per month for coverage, though this is by no means set in stone.
In terms of how much you should pay for pet insurance: pay what you can afford, and not a cent more. Consult your monthly budget for a hard number. It's important to care for your pets -- and the point of pet insurance is to save money, among other things -- but you can live without it.
Compare pet insurance policies side by side. To keep costs low, shop around and get multiple quotes.
Yes, dogs are typically more expensive to insure than cats. But get a quote (or do a quick Google search) of your animal's breed before jumping to conclusions. Some breeds are healthier than others, and therefore cheaper/pricier to insure.
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