Picking a dog insurance plan can be tough. This is especially true when there seem so many good options in the market but are all too expensive.
Well, you cannot recognize when options are expensive or not. IF you do not know much of what is in a dog insurance plan. More so, if you do not know why you need to insure your dog in the first place. Worry no more because we are here to help you better understand that!
Deductible, Reimbursement & Limit
Here are a few concepts that you should be familiar with before you begin to shop for your dog insurance:
A deductible is an amount you need to pay before you receive reimbursement. It’s like a membership fee. Some pet insurance providers may offer several different options. But some may offer less. Here are the 3 common deductible options:
Annual deductible requires you to pay for a deductible only once per policy term. Policy term refers to the period in which your dog insurance plan is active. Once you satisfy the entire deductible amount for your policy term. Your pet insurance company will start to reimburse you for your expenses. But, it will only do so if the expenses are within the coverage of your chosen plan.
Lifetime per-condition deductible
Pet insurance company like Trupanion offers a lifetime per-condition deductible. This is their way to help pet owners save money. Lifetime per-condition deductible requires you to pay only once like an annual deductible. The only difference is that it only covers one medical condition. Once you meet your deductible, your dog will have a lifetime coverage. Well, only until you reach the payout limit. That we will discuss later on.
Per-incident (or per-condition) deductible
Annual deductible and lifetime per-condition deductible are different than the per-incident deductible. That’s because it requires you to pay a deductible for each incident. Once you file a claim for an incident that you paid a deductible for, it resets straight away. You will again have to pay your deductible, first. Before your insurance will begin to pay for the covered incident again.
Reimbursement is the amount that your provider pays you for your out-of-pocket veterinary expenses. It is expressed as a percentage and generally ranges from 60% to 90%, depending on the plan or cover that you will choose. If the plan that you chose has a reimbursement percentage of 60%, your insurance will reimburse the 60% of your eligible expenses when you submit a claim.
Limit is the total amount that your insurance will reimburse you over the course of your plan. To put it bluntly, it is the maximum amount of money that your insurance is willing to pay you for a given period or coverage. Pet insurance companies set limits in one or three ways: per incident limit, annual limit, lifetime limit. Once you hit the limit, say a $10, 000 lifetime limit, you are back on the hook for your dog’s veterinary expenses.
What Is Covered In A Dog Insurance
The most important inclusion of a pet insurance plan is unexpected veterinary fees. The level of coverage for veterinary fees depends of course on the plan that you will choose. If the plan is a comprehensive one, it may cover more or less of the following:
Accidents and injuries such as torn ligaments, bite wounds, broken bones, swallowed objects & toxic ingestions
Chronic illnesses such cancer, diabetes, arthritis, hypothyroidism, ear infections, digestive problems, and urinary tract infections (UTIs)
Common illnesses such as ear and oral infections, vomiting and diarrhea
Hereditary conditions such as hip and elbow dysplasia, eye disorders, blood disorders, and Intervertebral Disc Disease (IDD)
Diagnostic tests such as biopsies, X-rays, and MRIs
Procedures such as surgeries, hospitalizations, nursing care, endoscopies and chemotherapy
Alternative therapies such as acupuncture, chiropractic and laser therapy
Wellness and preventive care such as vaccinations, flea/heartworm and spay/neuter
Behavioral issues such as excessive licking, fur pulling, pacing, and destructive chewing
Third Party Liability
Many pet insurance companies offer third party liability insurance as a stand-alone policy. Third party liability helps you pay for whatever damage that your dog caused to someone or to someone’s property. For example, if your dog injured a person or another dog, your pet insurance company will pay for medical bills and damages as long as your dog does not have a history of aggression.
If your dog, for example, was hit by a car, and you only have a third part liability coverage, your company will only cover the injured passenger. It will not cover the treatment costs of your dog’s injuries unless it is a part of your pet insurance coverage.
- Prescription medication
- Prescription food & supplements
- Microchip implantation
- Holiday cancellation
- Death from illness up to a certain age
- Cover abroad if travelling under The Pet Travel Scheme
- Retrieval Costs
What is not Covered in a Dog Insurance
Knowing what is not covered in a dog insurance is as important as knowing what is covered in a dog insurance. The following are the common exclusions of dog insurance:
Pre-existing Illness or Injury
Generally, pet insurance companies will not cover a pre-existing medical conditions or injury that already exist before the time of purchase. If your dog has not been diagnosed but has been showing signs or symptoms before the coverage takes effect, your insurer will not cover the medical expenses related to its treatment.
For example, if your dog is suffering from Hip Dysplasia before coverage begins, your pet insurance provider will not cover the cost of the surgery required to fix the defect. Another example of preexisting exclusion is when your dog begins showing symptoms of Hip Dysplasia like hip pain and limp before the coverage begins.
But, do not fret! There are pet insurance companies that offer coverage for pre-existing conditions like Embrace. Embrace also offers long-term coverage. However, Embrace only covers curable preexisting medical conditions. Some insurers may cover such conditions if your dog has been symptoms and treatment free for 12 months. Otherwise your pet insurance provider will consider it incurable and will not cover it.
Curable Pre-existing Conditions
- Respiratory infections
- Urinary tract/bladder infections
- Vomiting, diarrhea, & other gastrointestinal disorders
- Other curable condition
Incurable Pre-existing Conditions
- Any orthopedic condition, as well as any orthopedic illness or injury on the opposite side of a prior injury.
- Lipomas or skin lumps
- Hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism
- Urinary or bladder crystals or blockages
- Other chronic conditions
A hip dysplasia is an example of bilateral condition. Such condition affects both sides of the body like ears, eyes, knees and elbows. Other examples of bilateral conditions are elbow dysplasia, cruciate ligament issues, cataracts and luxating patella. Some pet insurance will not cover bilateral conditions. Some pet insurance providers do but it depends on the circumstance.
If for example, a bilateral condition had affected one side of the body of your dog before your dog was insured, say the left leg of your dog. The pet insurance provider will not cover it as it is considered pre-existing condition. Similarly, if your dog injures its right leg later into the policy, the pet insurance will not cover it. This deal is based on the pre-existing injury on the left leg.
Most pet insurance providers do not allow pet owners to submit a claim right away after their purchase. They may require pet owners to wait up to 30 days and before their insurance plan becomes officially active. Before then, pet owners must pay up the medical bills of their dogs. This amount of time that they must wait is called waiting period, also known as elimination period or qualifying period.
Waiting period varies with the pet insurance provider, the pet insurance plan and the level of coverage they choose. Most often, waiting period starts immediately after buying an insurance plan. Pet insurance providers impose it to protect them from fraud. Like enrolling a dog that is ill or with pre-existing condition that needs immediate treatment.
There are coverage plans that do not have waiting periods such as wellness coverage. This type of coverage plan covers routine and expected vet expenses. There are some providers such as ASPCA that does not impose waiting periods for certain conditions. However, it imposes 14-day waiting period for certain types of accidents and illnesses.
Types of Dog Insurance Coverage Plans
Wellness plan focuses on the wellness of your dog. It ensures that your dog will receive the level of pet care that it needs. Generally, wellness insurance policy covers the costs of routine and preventive care. It covers a handful of things like grooming and vet visits. It also covers vaccines, exam fees, routine lab work, routine dental care, microchip and spay/neuter operations. Training services are also sometimes included.
Wellness coverage is often provided only as an add-on or additional cover. Some pet insurance like Healthy Paws companies do not provide any wellness coverage in their insurance policies.
Generally, wellness coverage may cover more or less of the following:
- Exam fees
- Preventative care
- Dental cleanings
There is a host of pet insurance companies that offer accident-only policy. Accident-only policy is usually the cheapest pet insurance policy. It covers costs of emergency and treatment care for accidents but not illnesses.
However, there are limitations to this type of coverage. It does not cover intentional injuries and injuries caused by mishaps, whether it’s the dog or the pet owner’s fault. But it can cover treatment/ surgery costs for accidents caused by certain breed-specific tendencies of dogs like eating non-food stuff which may require a surgery to remove.
Comprehensive ( Accident & Illness )
Comprehensive covers injuries from accidents and vet-diagnoses sickness or diseases. This type of coverage is recommended for dogs with higher risk of health problems. Some pet insurance companies offer a separate plan for illnesses, but it is often combined with accident. They may also offer wellness as an optional coverage but this add-on comes with an extra fee.
This type of policy offers a wide array of coverage from the minor like diarrhea to the serious like cancer. It also covers hereditary and congenital conditions that are breed-specific. However, pet insurance will only reimburse treatment expenses if and only if these conditions exist before the enrollment. If these conditions are pre-existing, pet insurance will not cover it.
Common Illnesses & Accidents For Dogs:
- Stomach Issues
- Skin Issues
- Ear Infections
- Eye Conditions
- Heart Conditions
Choosing the best plan for your dog requires you to know much more about what is covered in a dog insurance. There is an overload of coverage options in the market and it can be quite overwhelming, but do not be discouraged! Read, ask questions, and compare your options!