Pet health insurance or veterinary medical insurance is equivalent to human health insurance. Pet health insurance began in 1980 with the debut of VPI or Veterinary Pet Insurance. Since then, a number of pet health insurance plans have appeared some offering HMO or PPO-type services, others offering major medical, and still others offering a discount rate.
When shopping around for pet health insurance, consider asking the following questions:
* How long have you been in business? Who underwrites your insurance and what is the A.M. Best Co. rating? (The higher the grade, the more financially secure the company.) Ratings are from A+ + to F. Secure Best’s ratings is B+ or better.
* What benefits does your policy offer? Is there a limit or cap on the amount of service? If so, what? Ask for a detailed benefit schedule.
* Does your policy cover wellness care (such as vaccinations, checkups, teeth cleaning)? How much more is it than your basic policy?
* What is the deductible on each policy? (The deductible is your out-of-pocket expense before the insurance begins to pay.) Is the deductible per year or per incident? What is the percentage payout after the deductible?
* Do you offer a multi-pet discount? How much is that discount? Does the premium increase with the age of the pet? Do you have age limits on your policy? Do you offer discounts on pet supplies and services?
* Does your policy cover pre-existing medical conditions and hereditary and congenital conditions? Can I take my dog to any vet or do I have to bring him to certain approved vets?
* What happens to my premium if the company goes out of business? What is the payment plan for the premium? Do I file a claim or does my vet file the claim? How quickly do you pay on a claim?
How much insurance you get depends on the health, breed, and age of your dog and what services you’re looking to have covered. Some vets offer veterinary savings plans (similar to medical savings plans) that you can take advantage of. Other vets offer discount cards where you pay to use a certain number of services and get a substantial discount. Most pet health insurance won’t cover pre-existing conditions, but some will cover routine care.
Choose a pet health insurance underwritten by a company that’s highly rated through A.M. Best Co. and has been in business for awhile.