Understanding Pet Health Insurance: Everything You Need To Know

Reviewed By Tom •  Updated: 12/30/20 •  5 min read
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More and more people are choosing to bring in pets as companions into their homes. In the US, 68 million households have pets, which make up for more than half of its population. New Jersey alone has pet ownership of 47.4%. This goes to show that Americans love their furry friends but what’s important to understand is that owning a pet is a full-time commitment both emotionally and financially. People often find it difficult to afford extensive bills at the vet, which can come in the way of quality healthcare. 

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To ensure that your pet gets the best medical care, especially in emergencies, you should consider getting them insured. Each state has a list of top insurance providers that you can opt for. For example, if you’re living in New Jersey, do your research on NJ pet insurance to decide the best option for your furry companion. 

If you’re a first-time pet owner or new to the concept of pet insurance, read ahead, and we will walk you through everything you need to know. 

What is pet insurance? 

Let’s start with the basics of what pet insurance actually is. Similar to the health insurance that you get for yourselves and your family or property insurance that you get for your house, pet insurance provides health coverage in case your pet requires veterinary care due to an illness or injury. What it essentially offers is comfort to a pet parent that they can take in their pooch for treatment without having to worry about the costs involved. 

Insurance is usually for cats and dogs but can cover other types of pets such as birds and reptiles too. Even if you have a fairly younger pet, it is always advisable that you go ahead and get the insurance plan anyway to prepare for when they grow older or if they meet with an unforeseen accident. 

What is covered by pet insurnance?

Before getting your animal companion insured, you should have a clear understanding of what is included in the coverage plan. While pet insurance is usually extensive and covers three major categories of accidents, illness, and wellness, it might not cover all types of conditions your pet may have, which is why it is important to be very sure before you select the one you need. For example, some pet insurance plans may not cover pre-existing health conditions, but they might be able to offer an alternative. You might also be able to acquire additional services at a more premium price. 

Typically, there are four types of health insurance policies applicable to pets; an accident-only plan covers sudden or unexpected injuries. There is also a time-limited plan that allows you to claim an eligible medical condition up to a set amount of money for twelve months. Another type of plan is the maximum benefit plan for which a claim can be made for as long as the policy is in place. The most premium option is the lifetime plan, which offers comprehensive treatment options for all medical conditions up to the financial limit. 

What is the cost of pet insurance? 

When it comes to the cost of pet insurance, several factors come into play, but typically, in the US, the average annual premium for dogs is $566 and $354 for cats. The monthly premium that you will need to pay each month will depend on the package that you opt for, but there are ways that you can save up on costs as well. For example, if you are a parent of a younger pet, then getting it insured earlier will help you save money because the monthly premium will be lower. 

You can also always look out for schemes that offer discounts on multiple pets, and also if you choose to make annual payments instead of monthly payments. Other factors that determine the total cost of the insurance include the size and breed of your pet and where you live because that will determine the type of risks your pet is exposed to. 

How pet insurance works 

Once you get a basic understanding of pet insurance and the costs involved, the process is fairly simple. First, you need to decide on an insurance service provider and then decide on the monthly package. While you are getting your pet registered, some providers conduct a series of tests to understand its health requirements. Sometimes there is also a waiting period and a 30 day trial period offered, after which the coverage plan is active. 

One thing to look out for while registering your pet are the terms and conditions of the policy. Be sure to ask the company and go over the fine print to have a complete understanding of the agreement. Once the plan is in place, your pet’s insurance will work on a reimbursement model. You will take your pet to the clinic and pay out of your own pocket for the expenses incurred. You then file a claim to the insurance provider, and they reimburse a percentage of the total cost, as per the plan you are on. 

Parting thoughts 

As a pet owner, you need to be fully committed to the health and wellbeing of your companions, and one way to do this is by getting them the best health insurance. Even though you might think that paying a premium every month is costly, the safety net it offers is worth it. 

We hope our detailed guide has gotten you one step closer to securing the health of your furry friend. You can now look up options for the best service providers and select the most suitable option based on your pet’s medical history and requirements.

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Tom has always loved to write since he was little - he wanted to be either a writer or a veterinary doctor, but he ended up being a professional writer while most of his works are based on animals. He was born in San Francisco but later moved to Texas to continue his job as a writer. He graduated from the University of San Francisco where he studied biotechnology. He is happily married and a soon to be father!

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