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If you are thinking about getting a pet, then you have probably heard all the benefits. If you own a pet, then you are living the benefits. You have companionship, a more active lifestyle, less stress, and the possibility of living longer.
Having said all that, you also have responsibilities. You must keep your pet clean, fed, and healthy. Diet, exercise, and hygiene accomplish a lot of that. Trips to the vet handle even more. Pet insurance is something that can help you with those vet bills, but only if you have it.
If you don’t yet, you might have held back because of certain things you don’t know. What pet insurance is could be one of them. You might also be unsure how it works, why you need to compare your options, and how to find the right one for you and your pet.
Pet insurance is a health insurance policy you get in exchange for paying a monthly premium. Should your pet get injured or sick, then you pay the bills up front before submitting an insurance claim for reimbursement. Based on your specific pet insurance policy, you will likely have a deductible that you are responsible for, as well as a percentage of the overall bill. Most policies will exclude pre-existing conditions and illnesses.
The monthly premiums that come with pet insurance might wind up being several hundred dollars or more over the course of a calendar year. However, the advantage of pet insurance is when your pet might need a major procedure. Your pet insurance coverage would make the costs involved a lot more affordable. Injury and illness treatments can cost a pet owner thousands of dollars, so pet insurance is about managing the risk and spreading it out.
How Pet Insurance Works
Every policy is different, but most pet insurance carriers will mandate that your pet get a health checkup and go through a waiting period prior to coverage activating. This is done to keep pet owners from waiting to get insurance only when their pet happens to be already sick.
Accident coverage can be an exception, however. The industry standard waiting period there is only several days.
Anytime you need to use your pet insurance, you need to pay your vet bill out of your own pocket first. Then, you can file a claim. The insurer will review the claim. If they approve it, they’ll either mail you a check through the postal mail or make a direct deposit into your bank account. A check by mail might take two weeks to get to you, but a direct deposit might happen in just a few days. More complicated claims take more time.
What you are likely to get reimbursed for will depend on how your policy is structured. There are three primary components to most plans:
- Deductible: This is how much money you will need to pay prior to the coverage applying. Deductibles might be per incident or per year. They often range from $0 up to $1,000.
- Reimbursement Level: Once you pay the deductible, your insurer will start paying a certain percentage of your pet bills. These ranges are often 50% up to 100%, depending on the specific policy.
- Annual Maximum: This is the most your insurer will pay for medical bills in any given year. Any charges above the maximum will be entirely your responsibility.
Most pet insurance covers a lot of different illnesses and accidents, but there are things that are unlikely to be covered. Pre-existing and hereditary conditions are usually excluded, as are dental diseases in most cases. Behavioral issues, hip dysplasia, and grooming are rarely covered.
Routine checkups and preventive care are also usually excluded, although many pet insurance plans might have a wellness plan you add on that helps pay for such matters.
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