person and dog sitting together to accompany a blog about pet insurancePet ownership is a unifying American experience—69 percent of your fellow citizens own pets. Further, 88 percent of all pet owners consider their dogs, cats, birds or other animals members of the family. So, when it comes to a pet’s good health, owners want to do what they can to extend it. That can be mean paying for expensive tests and surgeries to deal with accidents or medical conditions. As vet procedures advance in technology and costs, pet insurance policies have emerged to address those expenses.

We may think of them as family, but when it comes to pets, their policies are considered a type of property insurance, which reimburses you for expenses after the fact. But policies can vary widely, and it’s important to understand the details of your specific plan to save yourself money, time and future heartache.

Pet Insurance Policy Considerations

  1. Rules of Enrollment. Some plans require a vet exam prior to enrollment. Young, healthy pets can qualify easily, with puppies or kittens usually requiring 6 or 10 weeks of age to enroll. Some plans have cut-off ages for first-time enrollment at 10 or 14 years, but most plans maintain enrollment on older pets provided you stay current on the premiums.
  2. Covered Incidents. Some plans cover only accidents (such as treatment for injuries), but more comprehensive plans cover both accidents and medical conditions.
  3. Covered Treatments. Most plans won’t cover routine procedures like vaccinations, neutering or spaying, teeth cleaning, etc., though coverage for these may be available at an extra cost. Exams (for both routine and nonroutine matters) may or may not be covered depending on the plan, as are behavioral and alternative treatments.
  4. Waiting Periods. Most plans have waiting periods of 14 days or longer for illness coverage, sometimes more for orthopedic issues. Accident coverage often starts sooner, within a day or two of enrollment.
  5. Pre-existing Conditions and Other Exclusions. If your pet has an existing medical condition at the time of enrollment, some plans may not cover treatment for that condition. Others may not cover certain common conditions like hip dysplasia.
  6. Deductible Details. Your out-of-pocket expenses may be applied annually or per incident, depending on the policy.
  7. Payout Amounts. Most plans have a cap for covered expenses, depending on factors such as the pet’s age, condition or annual limits.
  8. Reimbursement Totals. Plans vary on the rate of total reimbursements to you, such as 70, 80 or 90 percent. They can also vary on the details, sometimes applying to the total bill, or only to “usual or customary charges.”

The policy’s premiums will vary depending on the details of the above factors, as well as your location and insurance provider.

Insurance for High-Value Animals

A separate type of insurance is available for highly valuable show or service animals. The significant financial investments made in raising, training or showing these animals can be protected by animal mortality insurance. Various policies cover common factors like accidents, injuries or theft, and in some cases, the loss of expected income that the animal might have generated.

The state of Massachusetts keeps a list of pet insurance policies available in the Commonwealth. You can find it here.

With these details in mind, you can shop smartly for a pet insurance policy that can make a difficult time, such as a pet injury or serious illness, easier to navigate. If you have questions about how to protect what matters most to you, whether in your personal or business life, reach out to us today. We’re the fine-print experts in insurance policies.