Pet Health Insurance Information

Health Insurance For Your Pet

Cat Hospital of Orlando Medical Services

Health insurance for pets is an option growing in attractiveness to many who consider their companion animal an essential part of the household and who want to better plan for the veterinary care their pet may require as he or she grows older.

Deciding to purchase a veterinary health insurance policy for your pet may not be an easy decision. In many cases, preexisting medical conditions are typically excluded from coverage. Many companies that sold policies in the past have gone out of business leaving policyholders hanging. If you decide to purchase a policy, make sure you are familiar with the company and the fine print explaining what is covered and what is not.

Make an educated decision about pet insurance. Get answers to the most important questions all pet owners should consider before purchasing a policy for your pet.

Issues To Consider Before Buying Pet Insurance

To be competitive and give you more choices, each pet insurance company offers slightly different plans. And that's the single biggest reason that you need to carefully compare the options to make an educated decision. To help in your comparison, we've prepared an easy-to-understand description of the most important things you'll need to consider.

1. Which Deductible Should You Choose?

Choosing a higher deductible will lower your monthly premium, but means your out-of-pocket will be higher each time your pet begins a new medical treatment. Choosing a lower deductible will increase your monthly premium, but means your out-of-pocket costs will be lower.

Also, is there a penalty for changing plans and deductibles? Try to find a plan where there is no penalty and offers you the flexibility to make changes so that your policy will continue to match your needs, today and in the future.

2. What are the Policy Limits?

The rising cost of modern veterinary medicine can sometimes make a low per incident limit (or low lifetime limits) unrealistic. Choose a plan that covers the true costs of unexpected illnesses and accidents. Also determine if there are any caps or limits on a yearly or lifetime basis.

3. What does the policy cover? What are the available options?

Look for plans that cover illnesses, accidents, and optional routine care.

  • Illnesses - any illness and accident plan should automatically cover common ailments, but what about chronic diseases like cancer or diabetes? Are they covered as well? For how much?
  • Accidents - cuts and broken legs are common and should be covered. In an accident-only plan, look for surgical coverage that include removal of swallowed objects and treatment of hernias.
  • Routine Care - these optional coverages may include such preventive measures as annual exams, vaccinations, teeth cleaning, and diagnostics such as blood panels and urine testing.
  • Prescriptions - Are any there any provisions for drugs, prescriptions or special diets?
  • Is there a waiting period? If so, for how long?

4. How is Your Reimbursement Calculated when You File a Claim?

This may be the most misunderstood and most important part of your pet insurance coverage. Generally reimbursement is calculated in one of two basic ways:

  • a) As a fair and straightforward percentage of your veterinarian's bill
  • b) As a percentage of a benefit schedule which limits the amount the insurance company is willing to pay
Cat Hospital of Orlando Medical Services

5. Are You Able To Choose Any Veterinarian or Are You Restricted to a Network?

Look for plans that allow you to visit:

  • The Veterinarian You Choose - Don't buy a policy that requires you to select a doctor you don't know from a list. Be sure you're allowed to visit any licensed veterinarian.
  • Emergency Care - Illnesses and accidents sometimes happen after normal business hours; does your policy cover emergency care at 2 a.m.? What about follow-up care after the fact?
  • Specialists - When your pet needs treatment by a veterinary ophthalmologist (eye care) or veterinary oncologists (cancer), you'll want to be sure your policy covers specialist care.

6. Who Determines Your Pet's Treatment?

At The Cat Hospital of Orlando, we believe you and your veterinarian will determine the best course of treatment for your pet. Choose a plan that does not limit your choices with a confusing fee schedule, or benefit schedule. Never let an insurance company dictate the level of care your companion animal may need.

7. What is Excluded?

Pre-existing conditions, meaning those that existed before the original policy effective date, whether or not they were previously diagnosed or treated, are usually not covered. These may include the congenital conditions your pet is born with. Make sure the policy you choose clearly states what is and is not covered in a way that is easy to understand.

8. Does the Policy Offer Lifetime Continuous Coverage?

In the event of a chronic problem such as diabetes or cancer, it is important to know that your pet insurance plan will continue to help treat the problem from one policy term to the next. An insurance plan that offers Lifetime Continuous Coverage will not automatically disqualify claims for chronic issues as preexisting conditions after the policy is renewed.

9. What Should I Expect?

Before you have a problem, or a bad experience with a claim, look into as many articles and reviews as you can.

  • Check websites such as epinions.com, insure.com, petinsurancereview.com and about.com for actual customer feedback and reviews of these companies.
  • Who processes the actual claim? Most veterinarians do not have the manpower to process extra paperwork. You may not want a policy that ads additional burdens to your veterinarian or their staff.
  • Call each company on the phone to get a feel for their level of customer service. Are they more interested in selling or educating you about their policies?
Cat Hospital of Orlando Medical Services

10. How Long Has The Company Been Selling Pet Insurance?

  • Is the company relatively new to the pet insurance industry?
  • Is the company rated by Moody's or Standard and Poor's or A.M. Best?
  • Verify the company's financial strengths or weaknesses.
  • Who underwrites the policies? Nationwide, Aetna or other carrier?

11. Does the company offer discounts for multiple cats?

12. Will the company insure your older cat?

We hope that these suggestions leave you better prepared to make an educated choice in your pet insurance coverage, and policy. If you have questions that are not addressed in this list, please e-mail us at: info@felinephysicians.com

Top 10 Pet Medical Claims

  1. Urinary tract infections
  2. Gastritis/vomiting
  3. Chronic renal failure (kidney problems)
  4. Enteritis/diarrhea
  5. Diabetes Mellitus
  6. Skin allergies
  7. Colitis constipation
  8. Ear infections
  9. Respiratory infections
  10. Hyperthyroidism

Source: Veterinary Pet Insurance. These claims account for about 25 percent of all pet medical claims received in 2007.

Pet Insurance Companies

Major pet insurance companies, listed alphabetically.

The Cat Hospital of Orlando does not recommend or endorse any of the companies listed in this document. This document is for informational purposes only.