How to Compare Pet Insurance

With more than 1,500 pet insurance companies in the United States, figuring out how to compare pet insurance plans may be a little confusing. Establishing what your pet's health care needs are and finding a pet insurance plan to fit your budget is the first order of business when comparing pet insurance policies.

The Need for Pet Insurance

Health care costs for pets have become more expensive as more options have become available. There are many more tests and treatments that were once considered only for humans, which are now options for pets. Giving a pet the best possible care is a priority for most pet owners. Having health insurance can sometimes mean the difference between life and death when your pet has an accident or illness.

What Type of Policy Does My Pet Need?

There are many different types of pet insurance plans and policies. You will need to take into account your pet's age and current health status when selecting a health care program. Make a list of your pet's health issues and what your normal veterinary expenses are. This will help you decide which type of coverage options you will need. Some plans only cover emergencies or may exclude pre-existing or chronic health conditions such as hip dysplasia or diabetes. There are wellness plans which will cover routine care and vaccinations, but may limit which veterinarian you can go to. Other types of plans may cover major illnesses but will not include wellness exams. When you find a plan that meets your budgetary guidelines and seems to be appropriate for your pet, be sure to read the policy restrictions and exclusions, as well as what types of claims are covered. If a policy does not meet your pet's health care needs, it doesn't matter how reasonable the premium is. You may want to ask your veterinarian's office for advice about what type of pet insurance will be best suited for your pet.

Compare Pet Insurance Options and Coverage

Once you establish the type of pet health care policy that will be appropriate for your pet, you may want a little more information. Finding out whether or not you can choose or change your veterinarian may be a consideration. Whether or not the emergency clinic that your vet refers you to will accept the insurance you have selected is another important thing to think about. If your pet requires regular medication, prescription coverage may be a deciding factor in which plan you choose. Also inquire as to the way claims are paid. Some pet health insurance companies have an annual maximum that they will pay, while others offer a maximum payout per incident. If your pet needs treatment right away, you may wish to find out if there is a waiting period before your insurance policy goes into effect. Some companies that do have a standard waiting period may also offer a different policy that goes into effect immediately for an extra premium charge.