pet insuranceEvery day, SAGE staff fields questions from clients about health insurance. Like human insurance, there are many plan options, deductibles and coverage types, which can be a big source of confusion. Here are some of the most common questions we hear and how we respond to them.

What IS pet insurance?

Briefly, pet insurance is coverage for the following:[1]
Accidents: Coverage for veterinary treatment for unexpected injuries.
Illnesses: Coverage to treat diseases or sickness.
Wellness: Vaccinations, tests, and dental work.

Should I get pet insurance?

Kim Adams, Clinical Trainer at SAGE Dublin, recommends clients get pet insurance for every pet they own, regardless of age. Why? Say your otherwise healthy, 7-year-old Labrador gets hit by a car and suffers a fractured pelvis. This injury is difficult to repair, and could require pins, screws, osteotomy (where veterinarians remove a portion of the bone), and more. The recovery is long and the patient will require aggressive sedation and pain control, and may need to stay in the hospital for days. This is an example of an accident that could cost several thousand dollars. And, because animal hospitals are private entities and not federally funded, pet owners are asked to pay upfront for care. Pet insurance reimburses pet owners after the claim is filed, and this can provide some financial relief.

Most pet insurance is purchased within the first year of ownership or after the pet’s first visit to a veterinarian, according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA). Their research has found that first-time pet owners and experienced pet owners with a new pet are most likely to purchase pet insurance.

Others at SAGE recommend people with young pets get insurance as soon as they can. Pet insurance companies don’t cover pre-existing conditions, so the younger the pet, the fewer pre-existing conditions they are likely to have. If you opt to get pet insurance for an older pet, insurance companies may require an exam of the pet first. This enables insurance companies to make note of pre-existing conditions—essentially the problems they won’t cover in the future.

Which insurance is best?

There are many companies and they offer a range of plans. What works for one family, may not work for another. Adams at SAGE Dublin recommends you research your pet’s breed and available plans first.  Some insurance will not cover breed-specific health problems, she says. So, for example, if you have a Pug or a French Bulldog—breeds that are known to develop airway diseases and problems—you will want to research plans carefully and be sure you understand what will be covered and what won’t.

Is it expensive?

Every plan is different, and there are a range of deductibles and monthly premium plans to choose from. Cost will depend on your pet’s breed, age, whether it is spayed or neutered and where the pet lives, according to Veterinary Practice News.

Where can I learn more?

NAPHIA is a good source for more information about pet insurance. They have a buying guide, as well as member pages that provide information about various pet insurance companies. Find them at https://naphia.org/

[1] https://naphia.org/find-pet-insurance/insurance-buying-guide/