Pet Health Insurance Reviews - Ten Important Things
To Look For
When we look for pet health insurance reviews we typically find information on various pet insurance companies posted by people who are, or claim to be, customers of those insurance companies. Some reviews are glowing, while others are not so good. Of course, there is no way of really knowing how valid any of this information is. Do you really want to compare pet insurance based on opinion? Wouldn’t you rather have facts?
We take a different approach with our pet health insurance reviews. When you compare pet insurance, why not review and compare what the pet insurance companies tell you? After all they all provide pet insurance information on their websites and many provide access to their policy terms and conditions. And if you need additional pet insurance information, you can always ask.
But, what do you look for and what do you ask about when conducting pet health insurance reviews? We’re so glad you asked… read on!
1. Premium amount
The Premium is the amount you pay to keep your policy active or “in force” as they say in the Insurance business. The payments can be made monthly, quarterly or annually, depending on your Insurance Company. In some cases an administrative fee is added for payments other than annual payments.
Premiums will vary depending on the cost of Vet care in your area, the age of your pet, what is covered and excluded by your policy, Type of pet, maximum payout, Co-insurance percentage, Deductible amount and deductible frequency. You will pay the premium whether you file any claims or not.
So it’s important that you compare quotes for pet insurance as a part of the pet health insurance reviews you do.
Depending on the policy you choose and the type of coverage you select, Insurance companies will place limits on how much they will pay you in claims. These limits can be stated as:
- the Maximum amount payable per claim,
- the Maximum amount payable per year or
- the Maximum amount payable over the life of the policy.
Of course the premiums will usually increase as the limits increase.
3. Types of coverage
Many Insurance companies will provide you with options regarding what types of coverage you can buy. Types of coverage include:
- Accident coverage,
- Illness coverage
- Health care coverage
If your pet is injured resulting from an accident, Accident coverage pays the vet bills. Read the Insurance Agreement carefully since certain types of accidents may not be covered i.e. they will be excluded.
If your pet becomes ill, Illness coverage pays the vet bills. Read the Insurance Agreement carefully since certain types of illnesses and pre-conditions may be excluded. You may be surprised to learn that some Pet Insurance covers tests and diagnostics while others do not. So read carefully.
Health care coverage is usually not recommended. Unlike Illness and accidents, Health care is more or less predictable. It includes annual checkups, shots, flea and tick control, etc. There is not much sense in having your insurance company cover these costs as they will cost you more since there are administration costs and your Insurance Company has to make a profit. So it’s best to pay this yourself.
So when you compare pet insurance you must be careful to compare the same types of coverage… or at least know that you are not. It’s the stuff that good pet health insurance reviews are made of.
4. Co-insurance amount
The Co-insurance amount identifies the percentage of each claim that the Insurance Company pays. And who pays the remainder of the claim? You guessed it… the remainder of the claim is paid by… YOU!
The higher the Co-insurance rate, the more the Insurance Company pays for each claim and the higher Premium you pay for that service.
Co-insurance is usually set at 70%, 80% or 90% initially. However some Insurance companies will lower that rate if you have large claims. In our personal experience, our Co-insurance for Gus, a very large Great Pyrenees Mountain Dog, went from 80% to 50% after major leg surgery. That had a major impact on costs, as you will see later. When doing pet health insurance reviews many people overlook the importance of the Co-insurance percentage. Don’t make that mistake. It’s important.
Generally, there are two types of deductible.
- Deductible amount per year: This is a deductible that you pay once each year if you have claims.
- Deductible amount per claim or Incident: This is a deductible that you pay for each claim you have.
Like everything else in Pet Insurance, there are many differences from company to company. Some pet insurance companies set the deductible and increase it as your pet ages. Other pet insurance companies will provide you with options for the amount of the Deductible you pay.
And of course the higher the deductible you pay, the less the Insurance Company pays, so the lower your premium will be… or at least they should be lower. But will the overall cost of your pet insurance be lower? Good pet health insurance reviews will help you discover the truth.
6. Exclusions & Limitations
Exclusions & Limitations identify and specify what the Insurance Company will not provide insurance coverage for. These lists can be long and varied and are unique for each pet Insurance Company so our advice here is to get a copy of the Insurance agreement and read it carefully to know what insurance coverage you actually have. Let’s face it; even the cheapest pet insurance will be very expensive if it does not provide Insurance coverage for your pet’s needs.
7. Pre-existing conditions
Pre-existing conditions are conditions that your pet has before your insurance becomes active or in force or that occur during any stated waiting period after your insurance becomes active or in force. If your pet has a known disease before you insure it, you can’t expect the Insurance Company to provide coverage for that disease now, can you? That’s only fair.
But once again, this is not simple either, since all insurance companies do not define Pre-existing conditions in the same way. We are really digging in now, like all good pet health insurance reviews should do. If your pet contracts a chronic condition while it’s insured and it is covered by insurance, some companies (not all of them mind you) say this is a Pre-existing condition when the policy renews for the next year, since it happened before the renewal, and will no longer provide coverage for that condition. So you have to read the fine print and the big print as well in the Insurance game.
8. Bilateral Conditions
A Bilateral Condition is defined as a condition in one of two things your pet has such as eyes, ears, hips, etc. If the condition exists in one of these, the insurance company includes the other as well. So a pet with a pre-existing infection in one eye may not be able to have coverage for the other healthy eye since it is excluded as a bilateral condition. How many pet health insurance reviews have you seen who talk about this? Read the Insurance agreement carefully to understand what is covered.
9. The “We can change your policy at any time” Clause
Well, that’s not what it’s really called, but it may as well be. Sometimes you will see it referred to as “claims risk management”. Most, if not all, pet insurance companies, have a clause in their agreement with you that gives them the right to change your policy.
Amazing isn’t it? You buy one thing, but your pet insurance company can change it at any time so it is no longer what you originally bought! Make sure your pet health insurance reviews include a careful review of the wording for these terms and conditions.
Some say specifically what they can change while others are a little less clear. And you can be sure that if your policy is losing money for the insurance company, many of these pet insurance companies will change your agreement to recover those losses. Some will change your premium, while others will change your Co-insurance amount or your deductible or lower the limits for your coverage.
You will be amazed at the impact these changes have on you, as we will demonstrate later. In our case with Gus, our Co-insurance was reduced from 80% to 50%.
10. Financial Health of your Insurance Company
Although pet insurance is sold under many names and brands, quite often you will find that the policies are actually created and administered by one insurance company who underwrites the policy. Who are they? You should make the time to find out. Most often you will find that Property and Casualty Insurance Companies underwrite pet insurance. These are the type of companies that insure your house, your car, your boat, etc. but not the companies that insure your life. So do your homework.
Okay, so you now know the ten important things to be aware of in pet insurance that should be included in all of your pet health insurance reviews. But how do you make use of this information?
Read on and we’ll explore how to make sense of all of this and help you select the best pet health insurance for your needs.
Continue to Part 5 - Why it’s NOT Enough to compare quotes for pet insurance
Return to Part 3 - A Pet Insurance Review - The Essential Background Information You Need
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