Big or small, purebred or mixed, dogs are not just man’s best friends, they are family. And just like every household member, we have the responsibility to take care of them. Especially when dogs get sick and incur injuries. When these things happens, we have to make sure that they get the proper medical care. Great thing that there are dog insurances to help us prepare for their regular care maintenances and unforeseen health circumstances.
In this article, we are going to help answer the most common question of dog owners: what is the best insurance program for my dog? At the end, we will give you our top 3 dog insurance options. But in case you haven’t made your mind yet on getting dog insurance, you can check out our article on Do I Need to Insure My Dog first. But for those of you who are ready to go for it, let us proceed!
What is a dog insurance?
Just to make sure that we are on the same page here, before we answer ‘what is the best insurance program for my dog?’ let us clarify first what is dog insurance.
Simply put, a dog insurance is a type of pet insurance specifically for different breeds of dogs. Dog owners buy dog insurance policy to avoid paying out-of-pocket expensive vet services and procedures in the future.
With dog insurance, dog owners only pay a reasonable amount every month (monthly premium) to their insurance provider, a manageable initial amount of vet bills (deductible) and a fraction of succeeding vet expenses (copay). In exchange, the dog insurance provider offers coverage for different dog health, conditions, medications and treatment. Dog owners can claim reimbursements for the vet expenses included in the dog insurance coverage.
To better understand, let us talk about these terms a little bit more. Read on.
Important terms in dog insurance
It is crucial to understand what you’re getting into before availing an insurance plan. In this section, we will explain each dog insurance terminologies that you’ll need to get acquainted with so that you can decide what insurance program best applies to your dog.
An insurance premium is the amount that you must pay for an insurance policy. For example, if your pet insurance premium is $100 per month, you must pay your insurer $800 monthly to have the insurance. Higher premiums usually mean lower deductibles in many insurance plans.
A deductible is an amount of money that you are responsible to pay first before your insurance provider begins to pick up some of the tab. For example, if you have a $1,000 deductible, it means that you must first pay $1000 out-of-pocket to your vet bill before your insurance company shares most of the succeeding costs. Practically all types of insurance contain deductibles, although amounts vary.
An insurance coverage is the set of dog health risks, liabilities, or potential loss that is protected in the insurance program. Pet insurance covers different types of services, treatments, procedures and medication. We will talk more about this topic after the next section below.
A waiting period is the length of time before the coverage of the insurance comes into effect. Insured dog owners may not receive benefits during the waiting period. These typically spans from a couple of weeks to a few months. This is to encourage dog owners to insure their pets while they are young and healthy.
Pre-existing conditions are the dogs’ illnesses or injuries before availing an insurance program. Conditions like diabetes, canine hip dysplasia, cancer, and cataracts are examples of pre-existing health conditions. They tend to be chronic or long-term. Insurance programs for dogs vary in terms of covering pre-existing conditions. Some don’t cover them at all. Some cover them in full with deductibles.
A copay is short for copayment. It is the percentage that pet owner pays for covered veterinary services. For example, if the copay is 20%, it means that for every $100 vet bill after, the dog owner will shoulder $20 and the insurance provider will pay the remaining $80. Copays can vary for different services within the same plans.
Now that we know the basic dog insurance terminologies, we can now move on to understanding how dog insurances work.
The three main types of dog insurance program
A while ago we defined the term coverage as the set of dog health risks, liabilities, or potential loss protected in the insurance program. In this section, we will discuss the coverage of the three main types of dog insurance program that you can choose from.
1. Accident and Illness Plans/Programs
Accident and illness insurance plans/programs for dogs cover procedures, treatments, and services that are necessary if your pet gets injured or catches a disease. This includes things like x-ray scans, medication treatments, confinements at the vet, and surgeries. It’s a handy and comprehensive plan for any dog. But know that many insurance companies include an age limit policy for your furbaby. Pricing for accident and illness plans vary depending on your chosen annual coverage limit, the deductible, the breed of dog you have, and your dog’s age.
2. Accident Only Plans/Programs
This type of dog insurance plan will only have coverage over treatments and veterinary procedures related to accidents, such as swallowed objects, burns, vehicular injuries, and bites. In most cases, accident-only plans will not take into account the age of your dog, therefore foregoing the usual age cap, which makes it a good option for older dogs. If you’re considering this type of coverage, it is an ideal investment if your pet is mostly healthy and you’re confident they won’t get into trouble but still want coverage for unforeseen situations.
3. Wellness Plans/Programs
Dog wellness plans are sold as either standalone policies or as a rider that can be an addition to an accident and illness or accident-only plan. Part of its coverage includes routine and preventative care such as vaccines, microchipping, spaying/neutering, and regular or annual vet exams. Wellness plans are usually not as expensive as other dog insurance plans, but most services have an individual limit. Because of that, the value of a wellness plan might not be worth it if your vet’s regular service fees are pretty affordable. Check with your vet to know if this plan is just right for your budget.
Factors to consider in choosing the best insurance program for my dog
Now that we understand the different dog insurance terminologies and know the three most common dog insurance programs, let us now answer our question.
So what is the best insurance program for my dog? It is not so nice to hear this but the honest answer is it depends. No two dogs are alike. And no two dog owners are the same. One insurance program that perfectly suits a pet may turn out to be not compatible with another. That is why it is important that you tailor-fit your insurance program specifically to answer your dog’s needs and to match your financial capacities.
That said, we listed three important factors to consider in deciding what is the best insurance program for your pet dog.
Your Dog’s Profile
The first factor to consider is the profile of your dog. The sex, age, breed and health condition of your dog has a huge bearing on the right insurance program to choose. Assess your dog’s health status and potential needs carefully to determine the best insurance program.
The Type of Insurance Program
Based on your pet profile, you can now gauge whether to choose accidents and illness plan/program, accident only plan/program or wellness plan/program. we suggest that you go further into the details of the inclusions of the mentioned insurance plans/programs. Normally, each dog insurance company offers a different list of inclusions in their insurance plan/program. Take the time to research the inclusions and make sure that they match your dog’s needs.
Your Financial Capacity
After profiling your dog and choosing the type of insurance program with the right inclusions, it is now time to factor in your financial capacities. In deciding the best insurance program for your dog, it is crucial to pay attention to the numbers. Make sure that you can afford the premium, deductible and copay. Also, check if you are okay with the waiting period and reimbursement time frame.
With these three factors, you are guaranteed to get the right, if not the best insurance program for your pet.
How dog insurance works?
Now that we know how to answer the question, ‘what is the best insurance program for my dog?’ let us briefly discuss how dog insurance works.
Step 1: Decide what type of dog insurance suits your pet
The first step is to decide what type of dog insurance suits your pet. In this step, consider the factors mentioned above to come up with a decision.
Step 2: Purchase a dog insurance, pay the premium
After deciding, you are now ready to purchase dog insurance. Sign and follow the contract. Pay the monthly premium. This way, you insurance provider can cover future veterinary expenses. Remember that you have to let the waiting period to elapse before claiming the benefits.
Step 3: Provide insurance details to the vet
Visit the vet or animal hospital if your dog gets sick or injured. If your policy has direct billing, you’ll be asked to provide your insurance details upfront, rather than pay for the services out-of-pocket.
Step 4: Submit a claim for partial or full reimbursement
After your pet is treated, gather the invoices from the vet and submit a claim to your insurance company for partial or full reimbursement (depending on your plan).
Step 5: Claim the reimbursement
Once your application for claim is approved, you may now get the reimbursement for your vet expenses.
To claim reimbursements, check if your dog’s condition is covered. Ensure that you are past the waiting-period, you are finished paying the deductibles and you haven’t exceeded the maximum annual limit.
What is the best insurance program for my dog: Our Top Picks for 2021
With so many companies and plans to choose from, it might be daunting for a dog owner to pick what is the best insurance program for their dogs. Here are a few notable pet insurance companies that you can consider.
- Healthy Paws – Best Overall Value
- ASPCA – Best Budget Coverage
- Figo – Best 100% Coverage
- Pets Best – Best for Competitive Pricing
- Pumpkin – Exciting Newcomer
- Petplan – Best Early Coverage
- Trupanion – Best for Hereditary Conditions
- Embrace – Best for Dental Illnesses
- Nationwide – Best for Exotic Animals
- PetFirst – Best Preventative Care
- TrustedPals – Best Customizability
- Spot – Best for No Caps
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to dog insurance. If you want to choose the best insurance program for your pet dog, you have to do the work of assessing your dog’s profile, the type of insurance program that is compatible with your pet and the insurance program that matches your financial capacities.
Now that you have been introduced to the world of dog insurance, you are one step closer to making sure that your loyal companion is taken care of in the event that they most need you.