How To Get The Most From Pet Health Insurance

Planning to get a puppy or kitten soon, a young adult pet, or even an adult animal? Pet health insurance can be a good buy. Companies that offer the coverage provide a variety of plans that meet the different needs of pet owners, from the person who wants emergency coverage only to the one who wants help with everyday expenses such as wellness exams, vaccinations, and nail trims.

Depending on the plan you choose, a policy may cover lab tests, medication, professional dental cleanings, tooth extractions, spay or neuter surgery, treatment of ear problems, eye surgery, parasite testing and prevention, therapeutic foods prescribed by your veterinarian, diagnostics and treatment for urinary tract infections, and chemotherapy or surgery for cancer. It’s not unusual for new policyholders to get back double what they paid in premiums during the first year of a pet’s life.

What’s covered can surprise you. Have you ever thought about how your pets would be cared for if you were unexpectedly hospitalized? One plan pays up to $500 for boarding if an owner is hospitalized for more than 48 hours. What about searching for a lost pet? Some plans offer up to $500 for ads and reward offers. Certain policies cover complementary care, such as acupuncture, massage therapy or laser treatment. Other plans may pay for microchipping and pet activity monitors.

Concerned about the cost? Check with human resources. Approximately one in three Fortune 500 companies offer pet health insurance as a benefit. Even if your company doesn’t provide access to pet insurance, one expensive emergency can make you grateful you have it.

Here are four tips on how to get the most out of your pet health insurance plan:

  • Buy and activate it two weeks before you bring your new pet home. That way you can ensure that the first visit to the vet is covered.
  • Cover multiple pets. Most companies offer discounts for more than one pet. Bonus: coverage for cats tends to cost less than that for dogs, so don’t leave them out.
  • Pre-existing conditions won’t be covered, but related care might be. For instance, gingivitis is a pre-existing condition in many pets, but insurance plans may cover extractions of teeth if necessary.
  • Premiums go up—that’s a fact of life, but talk to customer service to find the best ways to manage premium costs. They can help you determine if it’s best to raise the deductible, lower the reimbursement percentage, or choose to leave out certain coverage to help keep costs down.

This article was reviewed/edited by board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Kenneth Martin and/or veterinary technician specialist in behavior Debbie Martin, LVT.