Pet Insurance 101 – The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need
As pet owners, we may not be able to agree on everything. There’s the constant debate on whose pet is cuter and which well-trained pup deserves all the social media glory that it gets. So, while the debate’s still out those scenarios, we can all agree on one thing: we could all do with some financial help when it comes to pet care.
The reality is that pet care isn’t cheap. A quick trip to the vet for a general check-up can set you back thousands of Rands, nevermind a more serious procedure. The number of zeros at the end of that bill will surely have you spiralling.
However, there is no need to suffer alone, because I have a solution to offer and it’s a pretty simple one: pet insurance.
So, you may want to pay close attention here because pet insurance will change your life … and your fur babies too!
Let’s get started, shall we?
How do pet insurance policies work?
Contrary to popular belief, most pet insurance companies treat your pet in the same way they would you. Think of your personal health insurance and replace your face with your pets. Essentially taking out a pet insurance policy means that you are deferring medical expenses to your insurance company. This means that if your pet is injured or falls sick, your policy will kick in and cover the routine expenses, wellness treatments, surgeries etc.
And much like your own health policy, reading a pet insurance contract means you will most likely come across a few terms you’ve most likely seen before.
Common pet insurance terminology
This is the amount that you will be liable to pay on a monthly plan to receive all of the benefits outlined in your pet’s policy.
This is a portion of the costs that you will cover before your insurance company begins making payments. Now it’s important to note that you have various deductibles:
- Per incident deductible (this is the amount you’ll contribute after any incident)
- Yearly deductible (this is the amount that you will pay no matter how many new incidents have taken place in a year)
Your co-payment is a portion of the costs that you will have to pay after paying for your deductible. So, for example, let’s say that your specific policy has a co-payment of 20%, you will cover the 20% and your insurance company will cover the remaining 20%.
Now this refers to the highest amount that you are insured for. And this amount can be about the following
- Per incident
- Per year
- Per lifetime
- Per the predetermined fee schedule
When should you insure your pet?
The short answer: now.
The slightly longer answer: The medical industry is doing incredible things. Particularly in the veterinarian space. Their technological and medical advances now mean that there are ten times as many ways to keep your pet safe, healthy and happy!
Caring for your pet truly goes beyond taking them for a walk, little treats and a couple of cuddle sessions. As great as these moments of affection are, they prove pretty useless in a medical emergency.
True love means getting your fur baby pet insurance. There truly is no better time than the present to opt for this comprehensive coverage. Accidents do happen, so its best that you are prepared in the unfortunate event that they do.
What does your pet insurance cover?
Now, a little disclaimer here: every insurance company and their respective policies will differ. So do keep that in mind, but here’s a general idea of some of the things that may be covered:
- Accidental injury
- Diagnostic examination (these are things like x-rays and blood tests)
- Prescribed medication
- Wellness care
- Preventative care
What isn’t covered by pet insurance?
Most policies do not provide coverage for the following:
- Spay/Neutering procedures
- Behavioural therapy and training
- Pre-existing health conditions (tap here to see one of the few pet insurance companies that cover pre-existing conditions)
Which of your pets is eligible for pet insurance?
Once again, you’ll have to check out your preferred pet insurance company to see which pets they cover but on average most pet policy insurers cover cats and dogs. However, there are a few that also include cover for birds, reptiles and rabbits!
Many pet insurance companies also have a minimum and maximum age limit of your pet (except this specific company), so make sure to carefully read the fine print and terms and conditions.
What kinds of pet insurance plans are there?
Now, most insurance companies follow this simple outline, so make sure to use this as a guide.
This plan offers predetermined coverages for specified accidents and illnesses. The covered expenses will also be a set amount.
Accident only coverage
Well, this one’s pretty self-explanatory but in case that it wasn’t too obvious: accident-only coverage will cover the expenses that arise from accidents, however, you will not be reimbursed for any other treatment.
Things to keep in mind when choosing a pet plan
Be realistic about what you can afford, so keep a close eye on the premiums and the items that you will still have to cover out-of-pocket!
Take a moment to look at the kinds of pets that they cover and whether or not they only cater to your specific breed and/or animal.
Vets that you have access to
Many pet insurance companies have a network of veterinarian clinics that you can make use of. Make sure to familiarise yourself with these specific vets and their proximity to you. And if this level of medical restriction doesn’t sound like your kind of coverage, make sure to check out Oneplan as they let you see any vet of your choice (and no it isn’t too good to be true).
Wellness and routine coverage
This one is crucial because we all want the best for our pets and the best way to get it is with comprehensive cover. Yes, we want the bigger medical emergencies to be covered but the smaller stuff too. Wellness and routine checks are a part of holistic care, so you’ll want to keep this in mind!
How do I claim?
Okay, I know I sound like a broken record here but remember that every company has their own process, but for the most part here’s what claiming will look like.
- You will make a payment for your vet’s services
- Proceed to download the claims form from the insurance company and submit it
- Wait for the insurance company to respond
- Receive your reimbursement on time in accordance with their terms and conditions.
Just a little aside: Oneplan has this awesome (or ‘pawesome as they refer to it) app that allows you to make a claim from your phone! If there is anything you do, let it be tapping that link to see how it works. It’s the most convenient process - EVER!
Now if you’ve made it this far in the blog, one thing is very evident: you love your pet! And now that you are better equipped with all this information, all that’s left for you to do is sign up. You won’t regret it!
Until next time,
The Pet Insurance team