Pet Insurance in Times of Crisis

Chances are good that you've seen a countertop display at your vet's office for pet insurance. And maybe you've heard that pet insurance isn't usually that great because it gives a discount on the costs, but not full coverage. You've probably passed on picking up a pamphlet and figured you'll pay for emergency veterinary costs on your own, somehow, when the time comes. It's time to change that thinking because pet insurance can be more beneficial than you think. Here's a look at the pros and cons of pet insurance.

Reimbursement Instead of Direct Payment

Pet insurance doesn't pay out directly to the veterinarian. You have to pay for services rendered at the time and submit the bill to the insurer. The insurance company reimburses you for the costs and you close out the debt on your own. And in order to get full reimbursement, you want a policy that pays the total bill instead of using a benefit schedule. A benefit schedule is based on what the insurer thinks a procedure should cost instead of actual cost and leaves you with a balance you have to pay on your own.

Comprehensive Coverage for Ongoing Healthcare

Comprehensive coverage for pets is similar to health insurance for their owners. That is, the policy covers chronic medical issues that arise as the pet ages or has a hereditary and/or genetic component. Make sure that the policy provides continual or ongoing coverage in order to maintain a chronic issue over time. Sometimes policies are written for an annual benefit in that the coverage goes away once the year ends.

Look for Plans That Offer Unlimited Lifetime Coverage

On the surface, comprehensive coverage should cover a majority of anticipated vet care needs over the lifetime of your pet, but it's not always the case. Pet insurance companies sometimes have a lifetime limit for specific services, otherwise known as the maximum amount the insurer will pay out for a procedure or ongoing treatment. You might find yourself paying out-of-pocket after one or two expensive procedures for your pet with a chronic issue.

Preventative Care Coverage

Plans that are emergency or specialist coverage only may not make it clear to you that its policies are specific to these types of veterinarian visits. That means if you have a routine vet visit with your pet or are engaging in preventative care for a known condition in your pet, you won't be covered. And if you never have an emergency vet visit, rare as that is, you've spent money for services you never needed.

Look for a pet insurance policy that rewards you for bringing your pet into the vet's office for preventative maintenance. Insurance companies recognize the fact that the costs of ongoing care are reduced when pet owners are proactive in their pet's health care, and it's a good sign that the insurer will be accommodating when it comes to making claims for other non-routine vet visits.

Pet insurers have evolved to offer comprehensive policies that help pet owners justify the cost of carrying coverage. But before you go signing up for coverage, always read the fine print, don't hesitate to ask questions of the insurer, and make sure you know what's covered before signing on the dotted line. Your pet and wallet will thank you.

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