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Pet Medical Insurance

Questions to Ask Before You Buy a Pet Health Insurance Plan

How much does pet health insurance cost?

Costs vary. Typically the fees are paid monthly and there may also be an annual fee.

Online quotes are easily accessible. For instance, an ASPCA basic plan for a one-year-old mixed Beagle puppy living in Los Angeles would cost $8.99 a month with an annual issuance fee of $10.50. It's a level 1 plan, which is basic accident coverage. Boosting coverage to accident and illness would increase the premium to $26.64 a month. A plan that adds wellness care would be $43.23 a month. The premiere plan, with the most extensive coverage, is $72.01 per month.

John Tait, DVM, president of the American Animal Hospital Association, says it’s important to ask if the premium changes as the pet ages. “Most,” he says, “are flat premiums that don’t change as the pet ages."

How much does pet health insurance pay?

Pet health insurance plans range from basic to deluxe, and the coverage varies from plan to plan. Typically, pet insurance plans are set up with a deductible that ranges from $100 to much higher. Then, Sullivan says, much like the human "fee-for-service" or indemnity model, the plans provide an 80% reimbursement for covered expenses.

Plans are likely not to pay for "cosmetic" procedures, Klingborg says. For instance, ear crops, often performed on show dogs, won't likely be covered unless they are medically necessary.

Plans offered online often include a schedule of coverages.

How can I find a reputable provider of pet insurance policies?

Asking your vet to recommend a plan is a good first step. They're not permitted to sell pet insurance, Sullivan says, so you don't have to worry about them pushing "their" plan. She also tells WebMD that your vet will likely recommend a plan that other clients have had success with.

No single organization, as yet, sets policy or standards for pet health insurance, but plans are regulated state by state by the state attorney general's office. Sullivan says you can call your state attorney general's office and ask if any complaints have been filed against the company or companies you are considering.

You can also ask others with the plan to tell you about their experiences.

What should I look for when shopping for a pet insurance policy?

It sounds obvious, but try to fit the policy to your pet's needs and your own. If you can easily handle routine vaccination expenses for one pet, you may not need a wellness coverage policy.

But if you have four dogs or cats, such a plan might be cost-effective.

If you have questions after reading the marketing material, call the company and ask what is covered and what isn't.

If you have more than one pet, Sullivan suggests you ask if you can get a group rate. Two dogs in a single household might get a group rate, but it's less likely to be given to a dog and a cat under the same roof.

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