The dos and don'ts of shopping around for pet insurance
For many of us, we consider our pet to be an important part of our family, and that means looking after their health and general well-being is always our top priority. When it comes to giving your pet the best healthcare available, you might be thinking about taking out pet insurance to avoid costly veterinary bills.
Before you do, be sure to take a look at these basic dos and don'ts of pet insurance shopping which will help you save big on costs in the long run and ensure that you're really getting the right pet insurance plan for your precious pet.
The basic dos and don'ts of pet insurance shopping
When it comes to finding the right type of cover for your furry best bud, I know firsthand how important it is to find an insurer that you can trust and to get on board with an insurance plan that will really take care of the healthcare needs of your pet.
That’s why I’m going to go over the most important dos and don'ts to consider if you’re thinking about buying pet insurance.
1. Do consider researching various insurance agencies
Shopping around can help you effectively evaluate each individual insurer's benefits and drawbacks. Ultimately you're looking for an insurer that will give you the widest range of benefits at the best price. So, where should you start looking?
I usually suggest that pet owners do their own research and insurance comparisons, as sometimes comparison sites don’t always suggest plans that really offer the best price or level of cover - only a select few. What's more important is that they just don't understand your pet’s specific healthcare and insurance needs in the way you do.
So, how should you start shopping?
My advice would be to browse the internet yourself, get in contact with multiple insurers and get multiple quotes directly from the insurers themselves so that you can describe exactly what kind of cover you're looking for. After that, you could consider getting quotes from more than one comparison website and looking at them alongside quotes from insurers who don’t appear on these sites.
I usually recommend that pet parents try to get at least 3 quotes before making a firm decision.
2. Do get a health exam beforehand
Not every animal health insurance company will ask you for a health exam before signing up with them, but it's generally a good idea to get a physical exam for your pet anyway. This will let you know if there are any existing health issues (also known as pre-existing conditions) that may interfere with your coverage as many insurers may exclude these conditions from your policy cover.
Because existing conditions are not covered, being able to determine when a condition first started can help you know exactly what to expect from your insurer when it comes to paying out claims. And, if health issues develop later on, you’ll be able to claim with confidence knowing that this issue was a recent development and not a pre-existing issue.
3. Do know what to expect when you make a claim
Most pet owners can get overwhelmed by the complexity of making a simple claim with their insurer due to the large amounts of processing and paperwork that is often required.
It’s important to go over your insurer's reimbursement process in detail so that you are fully aware of the steps you need to take to submit a claim, as well as the other relevant details such as waiting periods and cover limitations attached to your policy.
A waiting period is a certain amount of time that must pass before your cover comes into action and you're able to claim for certain events (such as illnesses or accidents). Waiting periods can vary between insurers but most of the time you won't be able to make a claim for the first 10 to 14 days of the policy.
You’ll also need to keep in mind that with each claim you may have to pay an excess - which is a portion of the claim that you will need to pay in yourself before the insurer will cover the bulk of the claim amount.
4. Don't only shop for insurance when your pet is sick
As I mentioned before, most insurers will outline pretty strict inclusion in your policy when it comes to bills or expenses that they won't cover. One of the main exclusion many insurers outline in their policy is the exclusion of cover for pre-existing conditions (that's an injury or illness your pet had prior to you taking your the insurance policy)
A good idea is to take out animal health insurance early in your pet’s life when they’re still a puppy or kitten so that, if any issues do develop later in life, you'll be fully covered.
Another benefit of getting cover for your pet before it gets sick is that your premiums might be lower. Often insurers will spike their premium price for pets who have a bad claims history or certain hereditary, pre-existing or congenital conditions.
Pro tip: age matters and pet insurance for older animals can be hard to find. Some insurers will only insure dogs up to eight years old or, for some breeds, up to five years old. This is just another great reason to insure the health of your pet as soon as possible.
5. Don't let price be your only consideration
The best tip anyone fellow pet owner has ever given me is to be careful of focusing on price alone when it comes to comparing different insurance companies. Be wary of any animal medical insurance plan that seems too good to be true. Most of the time, the cheapest policy isn’t really the best cover for your insurance needs, and if you shop based on price alone, you might find that your pet isn’t covered for important claims such as hospital stays or chronic medication.
If you take a look at the details of these cheaper plans, you’ll also begin to see that most of these plans have the highest deductibles and stricter limitations when it comes to what kind of expenses they’ll cover and which veterinarians you can go to.
The bottom line is that you really need to compare both the price and the level of cover before making a decision. While saving money is always the goal, it's essential to make sure your chosen plan will be cost-efficient and still provide proper care in the long run.
6. Don't assume that you are fully covered
It’s important to know exactly what is included and what isn’t included in your policy. Most pet owners will assume that a standard accident or illness plan will cover all their healthcare needs, but sometimes these basic plans can have hidden exclusions that will leave you stuck with a stack of bills if you're not careful.
Remember to read the fine print of your policy and ask yourself these basic questions which should be on every pet parents checklist:
- Does this plan cover emergency healthcare costs?
- Does this plan cover pre-existing, hereditary and congenital conditions?
- Does this plan cover vaccinations, neutering, flea and worm control and anything related to the general wellness and health of my pet?
- Does this plan include dental hygiene and cleaning?
- Does this plan include emergency boarding and kenneling fees?
- What is the annual limit with each type of plan when it comes to the amount that can be claimed for a certain event in a single year?
Getting your pet the right cover
I usually recommend Oneplan pet insurance to my readers. Oneplan provides affordable, comprehensive cover with their Pet Classic and Pet Super Plan, both of which include:
- Routine and wellness cover
- An optional Routine Care Plus add-on (which can be used in conjunction with any other covered event available on your policy)
- An optional Excess Buster
- Cover for accidents and illness
- Cover for emergency care
- Kennelling fees
But Oneplan’s amazing pet care services don’t end there. Oneplan puts money in your pocket before you see the vet to help make the claims process as easy as possible. All you have to do is log in, load your claim and the funds are transferred to your unique Onecard which you can then use to swipe at your vet’s rooms.
Why not sign up with an insurer who is committed to providing the best, animal-friendly pet insurance for your loving pets today? Become a valuable member of the Oneplan family and get an instant quote to learn more about their special pet insurance deals.
Until next time,
The Pet Insurance Team