Pet Insurance 101 Guide: How to Choose Pet Insurance | Pupford
September 26th, 2023
Filed under Pet Parenting
What do you think Alexandra, a fellow dog lover, is talking about here?
“Twice she's needed unexpected surgery, and another time we had to rush to an emergency clinic. I had so much peace of mind knowing that cost wouldn't be a deciding factor in her treatment. I could do whatever was required.”
You guessed right, PET INSURANCE! While getting pet insurance almost always makes sense, choosing the right pet insurance can be a bit more challenging.
Insurance companies have a tendency to get a bad rep, but that’s just because people don’t understand pet insurance basics!
Let us take you to school (minus the homework and constant stress) and teach you some vital lessons and tips in our Pet Insurance 101 guide!
Here is what we will cover in this article:
- What is Pet Insurance?
- Your Pet Insurance Cheat Sheet
- Do I need Pet Insurance?
- How Much Will I Pay?
- What Pet Insurance Companies Don’t Want You To Know…
- How to Choose Pet Insurance
- Pupford's Pet Insurance Recommendation
LISTEN TO PODCAST ABOUT PET INSURANCE 101
WATCH VIDEO ABOUT HOW TO CHOOSE PET INSURANCE
WHAT IS PET/DOG INSURANCE?
Pet insurance helps cover the sometimes outrageous costs of veterinary bills if your dog becomes ill or faces any kind of injury.
Much like the health insurance that you and I have and know, a pet insurance policy follows a similar structure with deductibles, maximum payouts, premiums, waiting periods, and co-pays.
Depending on the type of plan that you pick with a pet insurance company they can offer extended plans that can include things like behavioral therapies, boarding kennel fees, dental work, and alternative therapies.
PET INSURANCE BASICS & CHEAT SHEET
Before you go and fetch the first pet insurance plan you can lay your paws on let’s go over our pet insurance basics and cheat sheet to help you know pet insurance terminology….
(If you’re familiar with human insurance then this part will be a breeze.)
This is how much you will have to pay out of your own wallet before the pet insurance company will start paying their end. Depending on the type of pet insurance plan you pick you can have your deductible be for every incident (pet gets injured you pay part of every injury) or annually (pay one lump sum or monthly payments).
This is the maximum amount of money that the pet insurance company will reimburse you.
Depending on the plan and the company their maximum payout may be for a lifetime, per body system (ex. they will pay a certain amount for vets to work on the digestive system, nervous system, etc.), per year, or other unique ones a company has.
How much you have to pay per month or per year for your pet insurance plan. Check out the different factors that lower or raise your premium below!
Simply put, the waiting period is the time between when you initially sign up for your pet insurance and when the coverage actually starts. Be safe and don’t roughhouse too much during this time period ;)
After your deductible is met, you will still have to pay a certain percentage of the covered expenses. This payment is called your co-pay and for pet insurance, it typically ranges between 10% - 20% of the covered expense.
TYPES OF PLANS
Just like how your furry BFF is unique, certain pet insurance plans can be customizable and unique to meet your dog’s needs. Some are just accident coverage, some include wellness coverage, some include preventative care, and others offer a variety of these types of insurance policies.
DO I NEED PET INSURANCE?
The short answer? YES, you will likely benefit from pet insurance coverage! But weigh your options.
Many dog breeds are genetically predisposed to having , heart problems, and other health issues that could make you a frequent visitor to your vet.
Whether your dog is predisposed or if something unlucky happens to that furball it is still better to be prepared for the worst, than scramble around when something bad happens...
The biggest obstacle to obtaining pet insurance is the price so we can understand why you may be hesitant to take the next step. That’s why we outlined 4 simple benefits of having pet insurance:
- Don’t decide between your wallet and your pet! Insurance helps you pick the best treatments for your pup every time.
- Customizable plans to fit your dog and your bank account
- Peace of mind - Whatever can help your dog’s health, you can provide
- Veterinary costs are on the rise
HOW MUCH WILL (AND SHOULD) I PAY?
Many different factors come into play... for example:
- The type of insurance plan you want can include wellness coverage, illness plans, accidents only, and other options
- Breed of your pup
- How many years your dog has been pawing around
- Where you live (depends on where the nearest treatment centers are)
- Your selected deductible and reimbursement rate
These are the main factors that come into play when pet insurance companies are developing a quote for you that you will need to consider. Also one piece of advice...
BE WARY OF SOME COMPANIES!
If you don’t know a lot about insurance or what kind of package you are already looking for then some insurance companies could take advantage of you.
Depending on your pup, and the level of protection you want, prices can range from $35-$75 per month.
We did the research into the BEST pet insurance companies so you can feel peace of mind picking the right one. Dog parents got to stick together, right? Jump down the page to see Pupford’s insurance company recommendation.
WHAT PET INSURANCE COMPANIES DON'T WANT YOU TO KNOW...
It’s no secret that veterinary costs are on the rise and that more and more pet insurance companies are coming out of the woodworks.
But you are about to discover something that every pet insurance company doesn’t want you to know…
YOU’RE IN CONTROL.
Simple we know, but when signing up for pet insurance you need to remember that you are the one with the money.
More often than not this is how signing up for pet insurance goes
- Google “pet insurance”
- Get overwhelmed by the amount of pet insurance companies there are
- Pick one of the companies at the top of the page
- Click “Get a Quote” and put in your doggy information
- They email you an overpriced quote and you fork over the cash $$$
If you do it this way… you’re doing it WRONG!
Don’t worry though there is an easy fix and this is what pet insurance companies don’t want you to know about.
When they give you your quote it is not binding. They will try to get you the highest amount possible and hope you just accept that price.
Most companies after you get a quote still let you customize your plan so you can get your monthly premium down and not have to sacrifice all your chew toys to pay for it.
After getting a quote ALWAYS look for options to customize your plan and get your rates lower to save you and your pup some cash!
HOW TO CHOOSE PET INSURANCE & WHAT TO LOOK FOR
With the many different kinds of plans with differing deductibles, premiums, and co-pay percentages we suggest you understand these 3 points to help you better know what plan to get.
Keep all these factors in mind figuring out how to choose pet insurance!
1. AGE, BREED, AND PREDISPOSITION TO HEALTH ISSUES
There are three factors that may lead your puppy to become your vet’s most frequent visitor over their lifetime. Older dogs require more care as they turn in their luscious colorful coat for a white one.
Also many dog breeds like German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Bulldogs, and many other ones are more likely to catch an illness or have other health problems. Take this into account when deciding what stage of care you want to take out with your insurance company.
2. EXAMINE YOUR FINANCIAL SITUATION
Insurance can be expensive, but paying more vet bills can be even more expensive. We highly suggest that if you are able to afford another higher payments on a plan to do so. This will help you down the road if your courageous canine takes a tumble.
3. THE COMPANY IS JUST AS IMPORTANT AS THE PLAN
Before you even pick a plan make sure you read up on the pet insurance company you will be signing your checks. Sadly, there are many companies out there that will slide hidden fees and not cover certain situations that they promised would.
Don’t worry about this one though, we got your back :)
PUPFORD'S PET INSURANCE FEATURED PARTNER
One of the things that we pride ourselves in here at Pupford is providing every dog lover with peace of mind.
Peace of mind knowing that you are not only giving your dog the best care but that you are doing it with a company who actually cares about you and your furry BFF.
We have spent COUNTLESS HOURS researching, calling, and talking with representatives from many different pet insurances companies. That’s not all. We also went to the online streets to find out what the dog parents, just like you, thought of their insurance companies.
With all this underneath our dog collars, there was one pet insurance company really stood out to us:
Pumpkin Pet Insurance plans offer coverage for a variety of accidents & illnesses as well as veterinary care options & services to diagnose and treat them. Some of the highlights from Pumpkin include the following:
- Voted “Best for Comprehensive Coverage” by Business Insider 2020
- 90% reimbursement rate on every plan
- No breed or upper age restrictions
- Always a 14 day waiting period
- Dental illnesses & eligible hereditary conditions covered
They also offer a wellness package called Preventive Essentials. Preventive Essentials is not insurance, but an optional benefit you can add to your insurance plan if you want refunds for routine care pets need to stay healthy.
If your dog or puppy needs treatment for any accident or illness (except pre-existing conditions), you're covered. It's that simple. With Pumpkin, the best treat is a healthy life!
OTHER PET INSURANCE OPTIONS TO CONSIDER
With ASPCA Pet Health Insurance you can visit any vet in the US and Canada, and you will get a 10% discount with additional pets. You are also able to customize your coverage and look at accident-only plans as well as plans that cover accidents and illnesses, behavioral health issues, prescriptions, and more.
Some cons include: unlimited coverage is not included, nor are pre-existing conditions, cosmetic procedures, and preventative care.
Cost: Can be around $30-100 / month (for one dog).*
FIGO was rated best Pet Insurance in 2017, 2018, and 2019 and Best Technology in 2020. There are three plans to choose from, all of which cover hereditary, congenital, and chronic conditions. Each policy has annual limits starting at $5,000 up to "unlimited" and you can choose your deductible and reimbursement amount.
Cons: no plan covers exam fees, but those can be added for an additional cost. It also doesn't include preventative dental care, spaying and neutering, pre-existing conditions, and routine wellness.
Cost: Can be around $13-76+ / month (for one dog).*
There are three different plans to choose from. The most basic plan includes accidents, illnesses, cancer, hereditary conditions, emergency care, surgeries & Rx meds. The next plan includes that + accident & illness exam fees, while the most expesive plan will also include rehabilitative, acupuncture & chiropractic coverage. There also isn't a maximum age limit so you can care for your aging dog. You can also choose your annual limit, deductible, and reimbursement level.
Cons: Routine care is not included but can be added for an additional cost.
Healthy Paws Pet Insurance plans offer lifetime payouts for puppies to senior dogs, speedy claim payments, comprehensive coverage so you can be prepared for whatever happens, lifetime discounts, and they even give back to homeless pets!
Cons: Only one available plan, limited coverage for hip dysplasia, and lower reimbursement levels for older pets.
Cost: Can be around $25-$90 / month (for one dog)*
*Prices may differ depending on age and breed of the dog, as well as your location.
HOW TO CHOOSE PET INSURANCE GUIDE RECAP
We hope this is helpful to you as you seek out insurance for your best bud(s). Remember to always verify information about pre-existing conditions, what constitutes an "emergency" and more!
Have any other questions about dog insurance or recommend any of these (or other) insurance companies? Let us know in the comments!