We just got our first puppy! While it’s an exciting time, I want to make sure I take him to a good vet. I keep seeing offers of pet insurance online. What should I know about it?
Ok, in the interest of full disclosure, this question comes from me this week. We did just welcome a new puppy home, and while it’s been a blast, it can be quite overwhelming! As we’ve spent the past few weeks researching veterinarians, I have continued to come across information about pet insurance. Then, a colleague at Better Business Bureau also started asking about these services, which lead to digging in BBB archives for tips.
On a personal level, I’ve heard mixed reviews from people about whether or not pet insurance is worth it. I’m not here to comment on that, that’s a personal choice, but there are things you should know if you think you may purchase it. Here’s a few tips from BBB:
n Shop around. Ask friends, family members, and other fellow pet owners to suggest a pet insurance provider. Ask if your veterinarian recommends a certain pet insurance agency. Check out businesses at bbb.org to read reviews or complaints. Make sure you are able to visit a licensed vet that is convenient for you. Insurance policies should not restrict where you are able to bring your pet for treatment.
n Know what is included. Make sure to discuss with the business exactly what is and isn’t covered by the insurance plan. If your animal’s breed is prone to genetic conditions, be sure to choose a plan that provides proper coverage for your pet. Does the policy include wellness care such as check-up exams, vaccinations, flea control, teeth cleaning, and heartworm protection? Ask if the policy covers prescription medicine, illnesses, and chronic conditions such as diabetes or cancer.
n Ask if the plan uses a benefit schedule. A benefit schedule lists the maximum amount the policy will cover for each diagnoses. Look for a policy that will reimburse you based on a percentage of the treatment cost rather than a fixed cost. In certain areas where veterinary expenses are high, the benefit schedule only covers a restricted amount of the cost and requires you to pay more money out of pocket.
n Ask about pre-existing condition coverage. Usually pet insurance policies are not responsible for covering pre-existing conditions. Ask if the plan excludes all pre-existing conditions or only “incurable” conditions. You may be able to receive partial coverage for a “curable” condition. To be on the safe side, some veterinarians recommend to get pet insurance while your pet is still young because there will be fewer pre-existing conditions to handle.
n Compare costs. Compare coverage, deductibles, co-pays, and caps between different insurance policies. Find out how much the policy will cost each month. Ask the insurance provider if they offer a deal for covering more than one pet. Ask if the cost increases each time a claim is filed or when your pet turns another year older.
Emily Valla is Idaho’s Marketplace Director for Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest. To check a business or report a scam, go to www.bbb.org or call the BBB at (208) 342-4649.