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MissionVet Specialty & Emergency

Pet Medical Insurance: Ensuring Your Pet’s Long-Term Health

Girl Sitting with Puppies in a Basket

Your pet became your best friend and trusted sidekick the moment they entered your life, and you naturally want to take every measure to ensure they enjoy a long, healthy life by your side. You feed them top-shelf pet food, walk them each day, and never miss a veterinary wellness visit. But, are you prepared for the medical costs related to an unexpected accident or chronic illness? Advances in veterinary medicine mean we can provide diagnostics and treatments similar to those at human hospitals to help pets live longer, but these advances can often come with increased costs. Pet medical insurance can help remove some of this financial stress and ensure your pet receives the best care available.

What is pet medical insurance?

Pet medical insurance is modeled after human health insurance, which has been used for centuries to help cover healthcare costs. Veterinarians and pet owners have realized the benefits medical insurance can also offer to pets, which has led to the development of many pet medical insurance companies. Many policy types are available, including those that cover illness and injuries only, and more comprehensive policies that cover wellness and preventive care, such as vaccines, dental care, and parasite prevention. After choosing a policy for your pet, you will pay a monthly premium, and a portion of your pet’s eligible health care costs will be covered. The main purpose of most pet insurance policies is to help you cover major expenses should your pet develop a serious health condition or sustain a major injury. In these cases, pet insurance can help make your pet’s medical bill much more manageable.

Which pets can benefit from pet medical insurance?

Your pet’s medical future is unknown, but in general, all pets can benefit from medical insurance. Purchasing a policy when your pet is a young, healthy puppy or kitten is often recommended because most medical problems that occur should be covered. If you wait until your pet is older, they may develop conditions that will be considered pre-existing that will often not be covered. Purchasing a policy when your pet is young will also give you the most benefit, as you can save on your pet’s expenses throughout their life. If your pet is middle-aged, you may still want to consider medical insurance, understanding that most policies will not cover pre-existing conditions. 

How do I choose a pet medical insurance policy for my pet?

Many companies offer pet medical insurance, and each pet’s situation is different, so choosing the best policy for your pet can be challenging. Research different plans, and choose the policy that seems to best fit your pet’s needs. Some things to consider:

  • What services does the policy include?— Most policies cover only accidents and injuries, although some also include routine wellness care. More comprehensive policies will obviously be more expensive, and you should calculate the yearly cost to see if you will save money. If you need a monthly budgeting tool to ensure you can afford your pet’s essential preventive care, such as vaccines and dental cleanings, a wellness policy can be helpful.

  • What monthly premium can you afford?— Your monthly premium will be directly related to your pet’s coverage, meaning that a higher premium will typically cover a higher percentage of your bill, and you will have a lower copay. 

  • What portion will you be responsible for?— You will be responsible for a copay, which is the amount you will pay out of pocket before your policy covers a percentage of the remaining amount, typically 60% to 90% of eligible medical costs. You will also be responsible for the portion that remains after your insurance company pays their part. The copay is a set amount that is often dictated by your monthly premium. You will want to know whether you will pay a copay for each visit, only once per condition, or once a year.

  • How will your claims be paid?— Most pet medical insurance companies require you to pay your pet’s bill in full, and then file a reimbursement claim, although certain companies, like Trupanion, can pay their portion of your pet’s bill to your veterinarian at the time of checkout in some cases.

  • Is 24/7 customer service available?— If your pet has an emergency in the middle of the night, you may need to speak with a claims agent to determine which services will be covered, so ensure company agents are available 24/7.

  • What are the policy’s limitations?— Other than pre-existing conditions, which are typically not covered, ask whether any medical conditions, such as cancer, will not be covered. Also, ask if the amount the policy will pay out is capped over your pet’s lifetime, or each year.

Pet medical insurance can help lessen the burden if you need to visit us for an emergency or to see one of our veterinary specialists. We are happy to work with you to provide all the needed information for your pet’s insurance needs should you need to bring your pet to see us.