Picking a pet insurance plan: 4 easy steps you need to know
Picking a pet insurance plan is no easy feat. In this blog, we bring you an expert’s guide to choosing a plan that’s best for your pet and your wallet.
As any pet parent knows, the cost of pet ownership has significantly increased. As technology and medicine improve to offer our pets a longer, healthier and happier life, these medical advances come with a hefty price tag.
Which is where pet insurance comes into play. Having a pet insurance policy in place will help you plan for and afford vet bills related to your pet’s healthcare, offsetting the costs of vet visits, routine care and of course, the dreaded costs associated with illnesses and injuries.
Whilst the need for purchasing a pet insurance plan is simple, the process of finding an insurance policy best suited to you and your pet, is not.
The last position you want to land yourself in is when you submit an expensive claim only to find out you are not covered for that specific event. Or purchasing a cheap pet insurance plan with minimal cover to later have your pet diagnosed with a chronic and expensive illness.
But fret not my pet-loving friends, because I am breaking down the basics of choosing a pet insurance plan just for you! Here we go…
1. Find out what kind of coverage you’re after
Do you want a pet insurance plan that includes cover for routine wellness such as vaccinations, tick and flea prevention and other wellness costs such as dental cleanings? Do you want vet visits and other day-to-day costs included such as those for scripted medication?
Or would you rather just have a plan that covers accidents and illnesses?
I often recommend having a chat with your vet to get an idea of the kinds of conditions your pet might be more prone to. Or maybe your pet already has a history of medical conditions, in which case you might need a more comprehensive kind of plan. As well as this, if your pet does have some existing medical conditions, then these are classified as pre-existing conditions. In which case, you need to find out if your chosen insurer covers these costs and if they do, what are the waiting periods that apply before you can claim for bills relating to these costs?
2. Dare to compare
The second step is to compare pet insurance providers. Research and download as much as you can so that you can draw up your own comparison tables to take note of the differences in plans, exclusions and premiums.
Expert tip: make sure you do not choose a plan based on price alone. In most cases, the cheaper the plan, the less cover you get for certain events and more exclusions there are.
3. Find out what’s NOT covered
I cannot stress the importance of this enough: before choosing ANY pet insurer as your chosen provider, you need to know exactly what you are NOT covered for to save you from any surprise claim rejections and costs coming out of your own pocket.
In my opinion, it’s an insurer's responsibility to make the terms and conditions of your contract as simple as possible. Which means you can easily deduce what you are covered for and what you are not covered for. But in some cases, insurers can be a little sneaky and include any exclusions in the fine print of your policy.
Pay special attention to :
- Limits (how much your insurer covers for events),
- Excess (the amount you have to pay in for a claim),
- Waiting periods (the periods of time you have to wait before you can claim for a certain event),
- Network of vets (are you limited to a specified network of vets to choose from? And is your vet on this list?)
- Exclusions (events that are specifically NOT covered).
4. Find out how claiming works
So, now you know the kind of cover you’re after and have rallied up your top picks for pet insurance providers, but before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you find out how claiming works.
They do this using a clever little transactional card they call their Onecard. Basically, before you visit your vet, you simply log into the Oneplan app on your phone, preload your claim and the funds according to your benefits and limit will be transferred to your Onecard for you to swipe and pay for the vet visit - using this card the same way you would use a debit card.
When it comes to choosing a pet insurance provider, it’s a topic I could write about for days. But for the sake of saving us both some time, here are my extra tips to ensure you follow before making ANY final decisions:
- Find out about your insurer’s customer care and reviews: dive deep into this!
- Find out about any discounts such as discounts for additional pets
- Find out how easy it is to upgrade or downgrade your plan should you change your mind in the future
- Pay special attention to cover for pre-existing, hereditary and congenital conditions as many pet insurers might not cover these issues
- Find out about add-on products: Oneplan has some great add-on products that help you to waive hospital excess fees (Excess Buster) and boost up your routine care benefits and cover for a small extra cost a month
- Find out about any extras or bonuses: Oneplan includes cover for emergency kennel fees in some of their plans, these are the costs related to emergency kenneling should something happen to you and you cannot look after your pet (i.e. you are involved in an accident out of your control and are in the hospital)
- Compare cost with value: NEVER choose a plan based on price alone
Until next time,
The Pet Insurance Team