From food to grooming fees to the occasional destroyed piece of furniture the costs of owning a pet can really add up. But the most expensive aspect of caring for your pet is certainly their veterinary care.
Pet insurance has become a popular way for pet owners to protect both their furry friends and their pocketbooks. In this guide, we’ll take a look at just what pet insurance covers.
In this guide:
- What is pet insurance?
- What does pet insurance cover?
- How do you get pet insurance?
- Where to find pet insurance companies
What is pet insurance?
Pet health insurance is designed specifically for offsetting the veterinary costs of owning a pet. It typically covers things like emergency care, illness, surgery, and other services up to a certain dollar amount every year. Pet owners pay a monthly or annual premium in exchange for the policy.
The majority of pet insurance coverage is for dogs and cats only, though some companies do offer policies for birds, lizards, and certain exotic pets.
>> Read More: How does pet insurance work?
What does pet insurance cover?
Pet insurance coverage varies greatly depending on the insurer you choose, the types of policies offered, and the price you’re willing to pay. There are also add-on coverages and riders you can choose, which influence the costs as well.
Generally, most pet insurance policies cover the following areas:
- Illnesses and required medications
- Accidents and injuries (like hip dysplasia)
- Surgical care
- Breed-related health conditions, including some congenital conditions
- Cancer treatments
- Treatment for chronic conditions that begin after a policy goes into effect
- X-rays and diagnostics
Most insurance plans don’t cover basic care, like wellness exams, teeth cleanings, or vaccinations. You’ll need a pet wellness plan if you’re interested in offsetting these costs. In addition, some insurance providers cover items like prescription food in their core plan.
Optional coverage add-ons
Many insurance companies offer additional coverages you can choose to protect your furry friend even more. These vary by insurer, but here are some of the options you may find when shopping around:
- Wellness visits and vaccines
- Cremation and burial
- Heartworm, flea, and tick prevention medications (Read: Pet insurance that covers heartworm treatment)
- Dental work
What’s not usually covered
The majority of pet insurance policies will not cover routine care or other preventative costs. Issues related to behavior, pre-existing conditions, pet-caused injuries, and dental care typically aren’t covered either.
Here are the most common exclusions you’ll see with pet insurance:
- Wellness exams and preventative care (Read: Pet insurance for vaccines)
- Pre-existing conditions (Read: Pet insurance that covers pre-existing conditions)
- Breeding-related costs (planned births, inseminations, etc.)
- Behavior-related issues
- Pet liability (dog bite injuries, etc.)
- Dental work, including cleanings (Read: Pet insurance that covers dental)
You may choose to get a pet wellness plan in addition to your insurance policy if you’re looking for coverage for the above items.
How do you get pet insurance?
Most pet insurance companies offer online applications. You’ll just need to go to their website, enter basic info about your pet (breed, age, overall health), as well as your location. You can usually choose between a few plans, each with a different deductible, reimbursement rate, and premium.
After filing your application, your pet might be required to undergo an initial veterinary screening before your coverage can begin. Not all companies require this, though, so be sure to compare your options.
On some policies, there may be a waiting period before your coverage can begin. This is to prevent pet owners from waiting until their pet is injured to get coverage. Most waiting periods are 10 days to a few weeks. Once that period expires, your pet is covered.
When your pet needs medical care, you can take them to a veterinarian and file your claim once treatment has been issued. Some insurers allow you to choose your own vet, but others require you to use an in-network facility, so it’s important to review your policy.
Where to find pet insurance companies
There are dozens of pet insurance companies to choose from, as well as many pet wellness plan providers. Make sure you compare several options to ensure you’re getting the coverage your pet needs at a price you can afford.
Not sure where to start? Our guide to the best pet insurance companies can help.