In 2011, it was estimated that only 1.5 million pets in America (out of at least 100 million) are currently covered by pet insurance. Or to look at pet numbers in another way, 70 million households are graced by the presence of either a dog or a cat – and to judge from the animal lovers here on Newsvine, many of those households have multiple fur babies.
This specialty insurance field is growing rapidly, however. Pet owners who are interested in learning more about pet insurance will find some new names offering pet insurance, but should probably go with a company that has a longer track record.
Pet owners might not even have to dial a phone to find a carrier. More and more large companies have been offering pet insurance as a voluntary benefit to their employees. Your vet may have insurance literature in his office waiting room.
They may be prompted by a shocker of a vet bill for their beloved Fido or Fluffy the last time that they needed surgery for their pet. Vet bills have risen much faster than inflation, with major surgery bills running to $3000, $4000, or even more. Bills have been known to top out at $10,000 partly due to the fact that more procedures are being offered, including hip replacement and even kidney transplants.
Now that pet insurance has been around for a few years now, some early mistakes in coverage plans have for the most part been wiped out.
Just like with human health insurance, you will have to decide how much of a deductible you can live with. Plan deductibles vary from $50 to $500. Copays, if any, range from zero to 30 percent. Some plans are set up as reimbursement plans only. You pay the vet, and the plan reimburses you.
One of the more offensive practices was if a pet incurred an illness during one policy year, it would be considered a pre-existing condition (and therefore not covered) during subsequent years.
It is ironic that the battleground over pre-existing conditions is still being fought over regarding human patients, but is pretty well settled regarding four-footed patients. There's still some companies that have kept the infuriating practice, but there are many others that pass this particular “smell test.”
Selecting plans can get complicated, though. Some plans will cover all pets in a household, and some require the owners to buy separate policies for each pet. It pays to wade through any fine print.
Many of the companies offer plans for dogs and cats only, but you can also find plans for birds or exotic pets with a bit of hunting. Probably won't need your beagle to track down a health plan for the parrot and the chinchilla.
SOME CARRIERS OF PET INSURANCE:
24 PetWatch - 1-800-275-PETS or 24PetWatch.com
AKC- 1-866-725-2747 or AKCpetHealthCare.com
If you register your pet with the AKC, you could take advantage of a free 60-day trial.
Quarterly newsletter. Cover diagnostic testing. Covers multiple cases of “foreign body ingestion.”
ASPCA- 1-866-861-9092 or ASPCApetinsurance.com
The ASPCA plan is a reimbursement plan.
Embrace- 1-800-511-9172 or EmbracePetInsurance.com
Policies for dogs and cats. Web site has a blog and a pet health resource.
Use any vet. Offers wellness rewards. Covers ER, rehab, cancer, optional drug coverage.
Does not cover pre-existing conditions, but covers genetic conditions.
Hartville Group- 1-800-799-5852 or HartvillePetInsurance.com
Use any vet; $100 deductible.
Healthy Paws Pet Insurance & Foundation- HealthyPawPetInsurance.com
Unlimited Lifetime benefits. Offers policies for dogs and cats.
PetPlan- 1-866-467-3875 or GoPetPlan.com
Mail or fax claims, etc to their office in Philadelphia.
Pets Best Insurance - 1-877-738-7237 or PetsBest.com
PetsBest is a claim reimbursement plan. Covers medications, physical therapy, etc.
PurinaCare – 1-877-8-PURINA or PurinaCare.com
Web site has a blog and a pet health library.
QuickCare- same as 24PetWatch
Trupanion- 1-800-569-7913 or Trupanion.com
VPI - 1-877-263-6008 or PetInsurance.com
Based in California. Their Canadian office is called PetSecure.
Allows you to use any vet, anywhere in the world.
$21 to $37 per month. Includes policies for dogs, cats, birds, exotic pets.
PetInsuranceReviews.org – Offers insurance basics, costs, comparisons, info on health issues.
PetCareCover.com – Has info pages plus a forum where owners can discuss their experiences.
PetInsuranceUniversity.com – Offers a guide to pet insurance, articles, a blog, and research library on the pet insurance carriers.