PET INSURANCE BASICS
OPTIONS AND VOCABULARY: DECIDING WHAT YOU WANT
“Per Condition” versus “Annual”
Insurance pays according to an annual term which renews on the anniversary of the sign-up date or “per condition” meaning per disease condition. Per condition insurance is a better deal for on-going or recurrent conditions while the annual basis is better for finite single conditions.
For example: Allergy, Arthritis, Cancer, Kidney Insufficiency, Idiopathic Cystitis, Asthma, Tracheal Collapse are examples of on-going conditions. If you have “per condition” coverage you need only pay your deductible one time for each condition and then the insurance company pays for life. Each disease has its own deductible to meet.
Alternatively: A simple broken bone, bite wound, intestinal foreign body, or parvovirus infection are likely not to have implications for the long term after recovery. Further, a pet may have multiple incidents within a one year period. All the incidents add together to meet a single annual deductible and after the deductible is met, the insurance company pays for the rest of the year. When the year is up, the deductible starts over.
Per condition tends to be better for older pets or dog breeds with genetic issues as these pets tend to experience long term problems.
The cap is the maximum paid by the insurance company. You either want no cap or a very high cap (at least $8000). Insurance with a low cap will not reliably cover a major illness in this city.
The Deductible (you typically pick from $0 to $1000)
This is what you pay before the insurance kicks in. If you have an annual deductible, this is the amount you pay per year for covered conditions before insurance kicks in and next year you have to pay it again before insurance kicks in. If you have per condition insurance, this is the amount you pay for a given disease/condition before insurance kicks in.
If you pick a very high deductible to get a lower premium, you will end up with insurance that only pays for very serious conditions.
After you pay your deductible, insurance kicks in and pays a percentage of what is the remaining charges are. It will likely be 100%, 90%, 80%, or 70%. Obviously, the higher the percent covered, the less you have to pay out of pocket. Some policies do not have options: they simply cover 90%. Others let you pick your percent covered so you have more control over your premium.
When you sign up for insurance, there is likely to be a waiting period before coverage begins. This period differs between insurance companies or may differ for orthopedic illnesses vs. other illnesses. Some plans do not have a waiting period.
Insurance is made for accident/illness situations but many companies offer “wellness coverage.” Wellness services include: vaccination, flea products, annual examination, teeth cleaning, microchipping, spay/neuter, routine lab testing and more. Since these are services that every pet needs, it is possible to budget for them on your own but it may be worthwhile to have them covered through your pet’s insurance.
If you choose to add Wellness coverage, be sure you are not restricted
The premium (how much it costs)
The “premium” is your monthly payment. The more you want the insurance company to cover, the higher your premium will be. You can control your premium by changing the cap, deductible, and percent covered.
WHAT IS NOT COVERED BY PET INSURANCE
SPECIAL SITUATIONS OTHER CONCERNS
There are special situations that you may want to check into before settling on coverage.
There are currently about a dozen pet insurance companies. Each one will have a premium calculator on its web site so you can determine premium for the options you want. If you are looking for more help making insurance comparisons please visit:
(an independent site put up by a veterinarian who sorted through it all and made an easy to follow format).