Welcoming a four-legged friend into your family ensures a life full of joy, wet noses, wagging tails, and lots of cuddles. Pets are the best listeners and are loyal, faithful friends, so we naturally want to do everything we can to ensure they are healthy and happy throughout their lives. However, caring for your grey muzzle pal, from at-home care to veterinary wellness and preventive visits such as dental cleanings, can be costly over the life of your pet. Fortunately, advances in veterinary medicine have helped extend our time with our best friends, but not without some financial burden. Pet health insurance options and plans can help alleviate your pet’s medical costs, but understanding and choosing a plan can be confusing because of the variety of options available. Our Livingston Veterinary Hospital team addresses frequent questions to help you choose the right insurance for your pet. 

What is pet health insurance?

Pet health insurance plans are similar in concept to human plans in that you pay a monthly premium, and if your pet requires veterinary care, some of the costs may be covered. Generally, pet health insurance will help minimize the expense of a large veterinary bill in serious situations. Most plans do not cover routine preventive care, such as vaccinations and parasite control, although some policies may include the option of adding this coverage. It’s best to purchase a pet insurance plan when your pet is a kitten or puppy, as policies do not cover pre-existing conditions or illnesses.  

What you should look for in a pet health insurance policy

Choosing a pet health insurance policy can require a lot of research and investigation to ensure the right fit for your furry family member’s needs. After determining the amount of coverage you need, ensure your pet insurance policy includes:

  • Allowing policy holders to choose their own veterinarian, specialist, or emergency care provider
  • Providers who are approved by the state insurance regulatory agency
  • A provider who uses a licensed veterinarian to assist with claims evaluations 
  • Clear information about pricing structures and optional coverage
  • Transparency about terms and conditions of the plans, and how the plans impact coverage and overall costs, such as co-pays, deductibles, and exclusions 
  • Clear communication about the reimbursement process, including required paperwork and time from treatment to reimbursement 
  • Accessible customer service representatives who can answer all questions and assist with claims

Additionally, it’s important to research the pet insurance company’s reputation, and to check with your Livingston Veterinary Hospital team about their experiences with the provider.  

What do pet health insurance policies cover?

You cannot possibly predict the medical problems that may arise with your pet, or when an accident may occur. Unexpected veterinary visits, such as your rambunctious dog injuring their leg when they leap off the couch to chase the pesky cat, can be costly, but having a good pet insurance plan will lessen the financial burden. Pet health insurance plans’ coverage benefits  vary, so understanding the basics will help you find the right plan for your furry friend. Most policies exclude pre-existing conditions, so insuring your senior pet may be more difficult, and have a higher deductible. Categories of pet insurance policies include:

  • Accident only This coverage is for unexpected accidents or injuries such as a broken bone, torn ligaments, or bite wounds, and does not include treatments related to illness.
  • Illness Coverage includes costs associated with diagnosis and treatment of a minor illness, such as a urinary tract infection or ear infection, as well as major illnesses, including cancer or chronic digestive problems.   
  • Wellness Routine care, such as vaccinations and parasite control, is typically included in wellness plans, and coverage can often be added. 

Some plans may include coverage for veterinary specialists and behaviorists, or chronic conditions and medications. Some plans may also include holistic therapies, such as acupuncture and chiropractic medicine used by your Livingston veterinarians. Regardless of the policy and coverage you choose, check that the following are included:

  • Physical exams
  • Laboratory tests 
  • Imaging (i.e, X-rays, ultrasound)
  • Surgery
  • Hospitalization
  • Medications
  • Dental procedures

Our Livingston Veterinary Hospital team is here to help you and your four-legged friend have a long and healthy life together, and we recommend pet health insurance to help ease your financial burden should your pet unexpectedly become ill or injured. If you have any pet insurance questions, or need help choosing a plan, call our office—we are always here to help.