What is Dog insurance?
If you're a dog parent, you've probably already experienced a roller coaster of emotions when it comes to your pup. You've felt love and companionship as you've cuddled and played together, been exasperated as you've had to replace another pair of slippers that your pooch chewed through, gotten angry when a bigger dog chased yours at the dog park, and felt truly sad with your dog when you couldn't locate her favorite chew toy (note to self: check under the fridge).
Still, there's one emotion that you never want to experience as a dog parent: the fear that you might not be financially capable of taking care of your dog when she's sick or injured. Even though we may not want to think about it, our canine companions get sick and hurt just as often as we do, and these conditions are apt to occur more frequently as they age.
Over the past years, dog insurance has emerged as a reliable, feasible means of securing your dog's health requirements. The monthly or annual sums you pay into your dog insurance plan broaden the scope of treatments you can provide for your dog when she really needs them as well as the amount of treatments you can give her in a given year.
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How Does it Work
If you've had any experience dealing with health insurance for yourself or your family members, the world of dog insurance should be pretty familiar. Dog insurance companies typically set up annual quotes for your dog's health insurance based on a trifecta of factors: your deductible, premiums, and reimbursement.
The deductible is the amount of money you need to pay before your dog insurance starts paying your claims, the premium is the monthly or annual amount of money you contribute in addition to the deductible, and the reimbursement is the percentage of each claim that your dog insurance company pays. You can play around with these amounts to find a price that works for you - a higher deductible will lower your premium, while a higher reimbursement rate will raise it.
Before you can start to get your dog insurance involved in treatment for your pup, each dog insurer has a waiting period. Typical waiting periods for illnesses last around two weeks, though the waiting periods for accidents can be much shorter. Some dog insurers put an annual cap on the amount of money they’ll pay within a year, while others don’t but may accordingly charge a higher premium.
Many dog insurers today make it simple to get everything done online: get a quote, sign up, manage your account, even get reimbursed. Other perks you can look for in a dog insurer include direct-to-vet pay, so that you don't even need to wait to be reimbursed, multiple pet discounts, and 24/7/365 customer support line.
Why Do I Need Dog Insurance?
Dog insurance is beneficial for any dog parents who want to be able to give their dog the best medical treatment but who don’t have access to endless pools of cash. With dog insurance you set up monthly payments that you know you can meet and say goodbye to worrying about what will happen if and when your dog gets sick or hurt.
In some ways, it’s easier to explain who might not need dog insurance. If your dog is over 14, most dog insurers sadly won’t offer coverage for them, or if they do it will be a very limited plan. Similarly, pet parents of dogs suffering from one or more pre-existing conditions may not have a lot to look forward to with dog insurance, since most dog insurers are unwilling to cover pre-existing conditions.
If you don’t fall into either of these categories, though, dog insurance is a safe bet. Just as you wouldn’t advise any human family member to forego health insurance and hope for the best, you don’t want your pup to be left in the lurch when trouble comes knocking in the form of a broken limb or grave disease.
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What Does it Cover?
Coverage changes from dog insurer to dog insurer, so if there are specific conditions you’re worried about you should browse different dog insurance reviews and websites to see if they’re covered. For the most part, though, dog insurers include what you would expect from a health insurer: hospitalization and surgery, tests, cancer treatments, genetic and chronic conditions.
If you opt for an accident-included plan, you’ll also be covered in cases of car accidents, cuts, and other mishaps your mischievous pup can get into. Some insurers also include alternative therapies, prescription drugs, and exam fees in their plans as well.
What’s not covered from the start? Typically, dogs over 14 and pre-existing conditions won’t be covered by your dog insurer, though there are exceptions to this rule. Likewise, because many breeds of dogs are subject to hereditary orthopedic conditions many dog insurers have limitations on how soon you can insure your dog for these conditions or whether you can insure them at all. Finally, wellness treatments such as routine grooming, preventative care, dental care and shots are usually only available as add-ons and not through the primary insurance plan.
As always, if you have any questions about what a dog insurer covers you can check out its website or give it a call, which is also a good chance to take its customer service out for a test drive.
Is Dog Insurance Worth It?
Once you've made the decision to become a dog parent, getting dog insurance is the next logical step. After all, adopting a dog is a little bit like getting married in the sense that you're committing to your dog in times of health - and in times of sickness.
Dog insurance makes the times when your dog is just under the weather, very ill or badly injured less stressful by having a financial system in place to make sure she's well cared for. While it does force you to budget for your pet's health, it also expands the type of treatments and number of treatments you're able to give your dog.
Sure, during a year in which your dog only has sniffles and a few scratches you may feel like you've overpaid for your dog insurance. However, your dog insurance really shows up for you when your year isn't going so well and you're making multiple trips to the vet for treatments that can get costly. Without insurance, you may not be able to resolve all of those issues and give your dog the best quality of life.
Common Health Issues Dog Insurance Should Cover
Unlike playing the stock market, investing in your dog’s healthcare is a move you’ll never regret. If you’re new to the dog insurance game, here are some of the common health issues a dog insurer should really cover to make your investment worthwhile:
- Cancer in dogs
- Hip dysplasia and other orthopedic conditions
- Congenital and chronic conditions
- Hospitalization and surgery
- Alternative therapies like hydrotherapy and acupuncture
- Blood tests
- Specialist appointments
- Cuts and stitches
- Car accidents
- Dental treatments after an accident
- X-rays and ultrasounds
No dog insurer is perfect, and it’s unlikely that you’ll find a pet insurance company that ticks off every health condition or treatment you have your heart set on. That said, most dog insurers take pains to make it very clear what they do and do not cover so that you can make an informed decision.
Dog insurance has made a huge difference in the amount and quality of care we’re able to provide for our dogs, and we would recommend it to anyone who’s thinking of getting a dog or who already has one.