So, you’re the proud owner of a new puppy! You can feel your chest puff with pride when you catch a glimpse of your neighbors and friends remarking on how cute your handsome lad is. You’ve enrolled him in his very first puppy class, and you’re convinced that he will blow the teacher away with all of his mad obedience skills. In selecting your new puppy, you left no stone unturned in ensuring that the one you selected came from healthy parents and who was deemed to be in excellent health himself. Still, accidents can happen to even the healthiest of dogs, and you want to be certain that you are prepared for the unexpected. You could just set money aside for a rainy day, but lately, you’ve found yourself contemplating pet insurance.
Why buy pet insurance?
Pet insurance can be rather expensive given that you will need to put out monthly premiums and often have no need to draw on your policy. Yet insurance exists to help pet owners deal with the tragic and the unexpected. Many pet insurance companies will tell you that if an accident or illness is going to befall a dog, it will typically happen within the first year or when the pet is aged and is starting to experience health complications as a result. Either way, a plan to deal with emergency situations certainly can’t hurt.
For many families, signing up for pet insurance during the puppy years gives them peace of mind. Since most pet insurance policies do restrict payouts for what are considered pre-existing conditions, beginning an insurance policy in puppyhood is the best way to be certain that the most health care will be covered. With up to 41 percent of pet owners fearful that should their pet become gravely ill they would not be able to cover the cost of the medical bills, insurance certainly seems like an excellent idea.
However, not all policies are created equally. Careful examination of each insurance provider will help trusting pet owners determine which company has the best plan for their specific dog.
For many families, their breed of choice is one with very few health problems. Certain breeds are genetically predisposed to being healthy and experience few problems until old age begins to set in. Yet, there are other breeds who seem to be more accident prone, and their owners find themselves at the vet more than they’d care to think about though their dwindling pocketbook continues to remind them. Then, of course, there is the puppy who is of mixed breed origins. This dog may have received the best of both parental genes or the worst, but most typically falls somewhere in between. With unknown parentage comes an unknown health history, and it is very difficult to ascertain what, if any, health problems a mixed breed dog may encounter.
With all of these variables in mind, it then comes down to considering cost. Many pet insurance providers will offer tiered packages which scale their level of services to meet each client’s budget. Others will allow each owner to choose what they would like to pay for a monthly premium then increase or reduce the deductible accordingly. Still others offer a deductible which is met per health condition or per year, and some exempt certain conditions altogether. It’s important to know up front what you expect and what you will receive.
When counting the cost, many families who own breeds who typically enjoy excellent health opt not to purchase insurance. With the most common monthly premium costing approximately $40 per month, many feel it is an unnecessary extravagance. After all, that $480 offers nothing in the way of reimbursements as a deductible must still be met and not all health conditions, and particularly most wellness visits, are not covered. Over the lifespan of a dog, the premiums can cost thousands and thousands of dollars, and many families feel that money is better put in a savings account for a rainy day.
Yet, some health conditions and accidents can cost upwards of $5,000, and most families simply do not have that kind of cash on hand. Since most veterinary clinics do not offer payment plans or credit, the most common solution to the problem is for the beloved animal to be euthanized to ease his suffering. When viewed from this side of the coin, the small monthly cost of an insurance premium seems well worth it.
Also noteworthy is the fact that many insurance companies do require the owner to put up the entire medical cost up front then submit claim forms to receive their reimbursement. If having access to thousands of dollars for an emergency surgery or treatment is not financially feasible, insurance many not be the best way to go. Saving money from each pay cheque may be a better fit.
The Best Pet Insurance Companies
There are many different pet insurance companies on the market today. All offer different policies, so it is important for owners to do their due diligence to ensure they find the company that best meets their needs.
Here are some of the top reputable pet insurance companies to consider:
Trupanion has earned an excellent reputation as a high quality pet care provider. It is one of the only companies which offers unlimited insurance payouts with 90 percent of all expenses minus taxes and exam fees. Pre-existing conditions and general wellness care is also not covered by Trupanion.
Trupanion allows customers to choose a deductible that best fits their budget then adjusts the monthly premium accordingly. In essence, a high deductible equates to a lower monthly premium and vice versa. However, for many families, a $50 monthly cost with a $500 deductible still makes treatment options tight financially. This should be considered when choosing a deductible.
Trupanion is one of the only companies who will directly pay your veterinarian for their portion of the veterinary bill, leaving you to only pay the amount that falls outside of their mandate. However, not all hospitals are equipped to deal with this function, and thus, all owners should check with their veterinarians to see if this is an option or not.
Trupanion’s deductible applies per accident, illness, or health condition. Your monthly premiums will increase or decrease according to the following factors: age, breed, gender, and cost of veterinary care in your region.
Embrace is a pet insurance company that earns high marks from customers for its excellent service. Like many other pet insurance providers, Embrace covers accidents and illnesses but will also cover add-ons such as alternative therapies, behavior modification training, and prosthetics. It also offers an additional program known as Wellness Rewards where families can earn additional money to use on typical routine veterinary care.
Embrace does not offer unlimited payouts, but it does offer flexible reimbursements according to which monthly premium fee each owner selects. Deductibles do apply, but like Trupanion, they are customized to which monthly premium an owner settles on. Embrace also offers a Healthy Pet Deductible Program which reduces a deductible by $50 annually for each year a claim is not submitted.
Overall, Embrace offers a little more than your average pet insurance provider; however, they do cost more.
Healthy Paws is one of the most popular pet insurance providers in the United States. Available in reimbursement rates of 70, 80, and 90 percent, this leading pet insurance company allows customers to scale their monthly premium to meet their personal budget. Monthly premiums for the lowest tier package begin at slightly over $30 per month. Healthy Paws offers no caps on payouts; however, they do require that a deductible be paid per condition, meaning you will be paying deductibles for the lifetime of your dog unless you run up against a recurring health problem. However, it is important to note that in the event of a serious illness or accident, the deductible would bet met very quickly and would not be required again for that particular health condition. This company will not insure any pre-existing conditions and will not reimburse any basic wellness costs or factor them against a deductible.
Thinking pet insurance is the way to go? Many pet owners would agree! If you’re thinking of buying insurance for your puppy, be sure to do thorough research and choose the company that will offer you the most bang for your buck!