What Is Pet Insurance?

By Healthy Paws Team

Keeping our pets happy, healthy, and safe is a top priority. While it can be almost impossible to keep them from getting hurt or sick, you can have some financial security when faced with overwhelming veterinarian bills. Premium pet health care can quickly add up to thousands of dollars. If you are one of the many pet parents who are not in a position to cover these unexpected costs, that's where pet insurance comes in.

Cute kitten
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Pet insurance is for those unexpected mishaps, catastrophes, and illnesses that you just can't plan for — like when the dog eats something he shouldn't. With pet insurance, you can be covered for these incidents and can be reimbursed up to 90 percent of your vet bills.

Who Is It For?

Quick survey: Is your cat in the family photos? Does your dog sleep in bed with you? If you answered "yes" to either of these questions, it's safe to assume you consider your pet a member of the family. Considering pet insurance is a natural progression.

Hearing checkup of labrador dog in vet
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What’s Covered?

Different companies offer different types of coverage. Some variables to watch out for:

  • Deductible: The amount you're responsible for before benefits kick in. Deductibles can be annual or per incident (annual is usually recommended).

  • Reimbursement Level: The percentage of the remaining cost (after the deductible) you can expect the insurance company to cover. You can typically choose from 70, 80, or 90 percent reimbursement levels, with higher reimbursement levels resulting in a more expensive monthly premium.

  • Limits on Benefits: Look for companies that have no annual or lifetime limits on the dollar amount they will pay to cover your vet bills. If your pet suffers a serious injury or illness, you'll be glad your coverage doesn't top out.

  • Coverage Exclusions: Look for companies that cover all accidents and illnesses, including genetic and hereditary conditions, and do not exclude conditions based on breed.

What’s Not Covered

Most policies aren't apt to cover wellness care (those annual trips to the vet for an exam and necessary vaccines). While some insurance companies do offer it, the premium can often cost as much as, or more than, paying the vet directly for those services. For most people, pet insurance is best for the unexpected accidents and illnesses that can be extremely expensive.

It is important to note that no policy covers pre-existing conditions. Don't wait until your pet has an unexpected trip to the vet to consider pet insurance; enroll early and be covered for life.

cat in doctor arms
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What to Look For

  • A policy that allows you to use any vet. Pet insurance differs from human health insurance in that you typically you pay the vet directly and get reimbursed by the insurance company.

  • Pet insurance that reimburses you based on the actual vet bill, as opposed to a benefit schedule that only reimburses you based on what is considered the "ordinary" cost of a procedure.

  • An easy claims process. Healthy Paws has an app for iPhone and Android that allows pet parents to snap a photo of their vet bill and submit that as their claim — no forms to fill out, mail, or fax.

For an unbiased look at pet insurance, check out this recent Consumer Reports article, Is Pet Insurance Worth the Cost?. If you're ready to explore plans, start with a free quote from Healthy Paws.

Content provided by Healthy Paws Pet Insurance. Healthy Paws is a No. 1 customer-rated provider of insurance for dogs and cats in the U.S. Get a free quote today!