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Why Get Pet Insurance?

We see unexpected medical problems with our four-legged friends every day. That’s why the veterinarians at Lakeview Veterinary Hospital recommend pet parents purchase insurance that is right for their furry family member’s breed, lifestyle, and personality.

Here are five pet insurance facts we want you to know about.

  • Choose your own veterinarian. You can continue to visit your current vet and consult with veterinary specialists who may be needed to keep your pet in good health.
  • Fewer breed restrictions. Although there are exceptions, many pet insurance companies no longer deny coverage for breeds like golden retrievers and boxers who are known for hereditary and/or congenital health issues, including cancer.
  • Choose your deductible, co-pay, and maximum benefit. You have many options to create an insurance plan that works best for you. Deductibles start at $100, co-pays range between 70% – 100%, and some plans have no annual reimbursement maximum.
  • Get reimbursed for wellness exams, vaccinations, and parasite preventatives. Many pet insurance companies offer benefits for preventative services including annual bloodwork and stool sample diagnostic testing, spay/neuter surgery, nutritional supplements, microchipping, and dental cleanings.
  • A pet insurance plan can pay for itself if your pet develops a chronic illness like diabetes. Chronic diseases can be very expensive to manage and treat. For example, a newly diagnosed diabetic patient will need a series of day-long, in-hospital stays to monitor glucose levels and determine the correct insulin dose. As with human insulin products, costs have skyrocketed for insulin products used by pets, and can range from $50-$200 for a month’s supply.
  • Ready to call about pet insurance? Here are some questions that will help you review the plans:

  • Can you continue to use your own vet?  Most pet insurance plans allow you to keep using your current vet and veterinary specialists like oncologists, dermatologists, and cardiologists but it’s best to confirm your care provider options before enrolling your pet in a plan.
  • Is the policy limited to illness, accident or wellness expenses?  Accident coverage is the most common type of pet insurance to help pay for veterinary care following a bite at the dog park, pets who are hit by cars, or pets who are injured by a fall.  Illness coverage reimburses you for costs related to vomiting and diarrhea, upper respiratory infections, eye or ear infections, diabetes, cancer, and other chronic diseases.  Wellness coverage typically includes annual exams and vaccines; blood, urine, and fecal tests and may reimburse you for parasite preventatives, dental cleanings, spay/neuter surgeries, and even behavior services.  Consider your pet’s breed, lifestyle, and personality when deciding which policy offers the best coverage(s).
  • Are there any breed, hereditary, and/or congenital disease limitations?  Some policies have limitations on breeds or diseases covered or may charge a higher premium for breeds that are susceptible to cancer and heart or kidney disease.  Be sure to review any of the limitations that may reduce the amount of coverage available for your pet.
  • Are there previous illness or pre-existing condition limitations?  If your dog is prone to ear infections and was just treated for one at your vet, you may need to wait a specified period of time before the insurance company will reimburse you for related expenses. Some insurance companies may consider ear and skin infections, allergies, and hypothyroidism (low thyroid levels) as pre-existing conditions so it’s best to clarify if they are categorized as illnesses or pre-existing conditions.
  • Are there any illnesses, diseases, or medical conditions that the policy won’t cover?  For example, does the illness coverage include treatment for diseases such as cancer or is there a supplemental cancer policy that needs to be purchased to cover these costs?
  • Does the policy include reimbursement for prescription drug expenses?  The cost of medications for pets that are diagnosed with a chronic disease can become very expensive.  For example, insulin costs for diabetic patients range from $50-$200 for a month’s supply and the cost to administer oral chemotherapy can exceed $200/month.  
  • Are expenses reimbursed according to the insurance company’s fee schedule or as a percentage of actual service fees paid to a veterinarian?  Although many insurance companies have moved away from reimbursing expenses according to their set fee schedule, you should check to make sure the policy you select reimburses you a percentage of actual service fees you paid at the veterinary clinic.
  • Is there an annual deductible for each type of coverage or for each incident and are there annual/lifetime policy payment maximums?  An insurance plan that charges a deductible for each incident may have a lower monthly premium but, depending on your pet’s lifestyle, may end up costing you more than a plan with separate deductibles for each type of coverage.  Annual and/or lifetime maximum payments will also affect monthly premium amounts so carefully consider the benefits of a lower monthly payment against the risk of exceeding the amount you can be reimbursed each year.
  • How are claims filed and how long does it take to be reimbursed?  Most insurance companies accept claims by fax or e-mail, and many allow you to file claims online with appropriate invoice documentation attached.  
  • What is the pet insurance company’s ranking with the Better Business Bureau?  Have any complaints been filed against the insurance company with the Better Business Bureau and, if so, has the company been responsive in resolving these complaints?
  • What are insureds saying on Google, Yelp, or the insurance company’s Facebook page about customer service?  Look for comments about the ease of reaching customer support representatives, timely reimbursement of claims, and prompt resolution of complaints.
  • Doing your homework before selecting a pet insurance plan will go a long way towards ensuring you have peace of mind when it come to your pet’s health care.

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