You are likely familiar with the ins and outs of human health insurance, and may not be surprised to learn that pet health insurance has many similarities. In fact, pet health insurance is often easier to navigate, while providing as many financial benefits. We strongly encourage all pet owners to invest in health insurance for their cats and dogs, to ensure potentially costly, yet life-saving, care is administered during critical cases. In addition to shouldering the burden of emergency care costs, pet health insurance can help cover routine wellness care that keeps your furry pal in optimal health. 

However, before diving in and purchasing the first policy you look at, determine your goals for pet insurance. Here are 10 questions to ask, to help you choose the best health insurance plan for your pet. 

Question: Does my pet really need health insurance?

Answer: Ideally, pet owners should purchase a health insurance policy for their pet when they’re first welcomed home. Having an insurance policy in place minimizes the chance of making a decision about your pet’s health care based solely on finances. If your beloved companion develops cancer, a serious heart condition, or orthopedic disease, health insurance can help with the cost of these conditions, allowing your best friend to receive gold standard care. 

Q: What monthly premium works with my budget?

A: Decide on the monthly premium that best fits your budget, to help determine coverage level, deductible, and additional coverage options. As your deductible decreases, your premium will increase, so remember how these two policy features are related when choosing your ideal plan.

Q: What level of coverage do I want for my pet?

A: When choosing an insurance policy, determine how much coverage you’d like. Are you interested in accident and illness coverage, or do you want something more comprehensive that includes wellness care? Keep in mind that your coverage level is directly proportional to your overall cost, so weigh the pros and cons of extensive coverage before purchasing a plan.

Q: Does my pet have any pre-existing conditions that may not be covered?

A: Pre-existing conditions are rarely covered by insurance providers, but there may be loopholes. Before purchasing a policy, ask providers if they will cover any or all of your pet’s previous gastrointestinal issues, skin allergies, or orthopedic conditions.

Q: Does the insurance policy cover genetic diseases?

A: Genetic diseases and pre-existing conditions are not considered the same under insurance policies. Hip dysplasia in German shepherd dogs, heart disease in Cavalier King Charles spaniels, and eye issues, respiratory problems, and skin allergies in bulldogs are examples of genetic diseases. Many insurance policies will cover genetic diseases, provided there is no evidence of the condition prior to purchasing a plan.

Q: Can I take my pet to any veterinarian I choose?

A: Unlike human health insurance, you do not have to stay in a network that accepts your pet’s insurance policy. You can choose any veterinarian you’d like, such as Fairfax Veterinary Clinic.

Q: Does the insurance policy cover specialty care?

A: Many insurance policies have additional riders that include speciality care, such as oncology treatments, board-certified dermatologist visits, and holistic practitioner appointments. If you’re interested in expanding your pet’s circle of care, look into optional add-ons for advanced, specialty care.

Q: What is the reimbursement schedule for the insurance policy?

A: Not all insurance providers offer direct pay at the time of your veterinary visit. If your chosen provider does not pay directly at the time of service, you will have to cover the invoice and wait for reimbursement, which can take weeks, or sometimes months. 

Q: Is there a waiting period before I can use my pet’s health insurance policy?

A: All pet health insurance policies require a waiting period. Some providers also require a wellness exam prior to the policy’s start date, to ensure there are no pre-existing conditions they will not cover. Because of the waiting period and pre-existing condition limitations, we recommend purchasing a pet insurance plan as soon as you welcome your new pet home. 

Q: Does Fairfax Veterinary Clinic recommend an insurance provider?

A: While you are welcome to use any insurance provider, we understand there are many companies to choose from, which can be daunting. We see good results with Trupanion and Healthy Paws, but always take care to ensure that a company meets your specific needs.

Unsure about the level of coverage your furry pal may need? Does your pet need a physical exam prior to purchasing a health insurance policy? Contact us for any questions you may have, or to schedule a wellness exam to satisfy your insurance provider.