Cats and dogs are an important part of our families. Today, pets are part of 68 percent of U.S. households – that’s nearly 85 million homes.1 Pet health insurance is an important tool to make sure that we can properly care for our four-legged family members.
"One in every three pets requires unexpected veterinary care each year, but the good news is we can do more for our pets now than ever thanks to medical advancements," said Dr. Linda Lord, DVM, MS, PhD.2 "As a veterinarian and pet owner, I recommend that everyone seriously consider insurance, because there are plans available that may fit your personal needs and budget."
Do I need pet health insurance?
As veterinary medicine advances, the cost of care associated with treatment, diagnostic procedures, equipment, facilities and training required to provide high-quality medical care increases as well.
In 2014 alone, U.S. pet parents spent $15.3 billion on veterinary care – and that number is expected to rise.3
Pet health insurance allows veterinarians to provide your pet with optimal care and practice the most advanced veterinary medical treatment. It also helps you pay for unexpected expenses due to accidents or illnesses.
What does pet health insurance cover?
There are three main types of pet health insurance coverage:
- Accident: Covers veterinary treatment for unexpected injuries
- Illness: Covers treatment of sickness and disease
- Wellness: May include vaccinations, diagnostic tests and dental work
Insurance providers should clearly explain the limitations and exclusions of coverage, as well as all related costs, including co-pays, deductibles, add-on charges and other fees, so you fully understand both the benefits and limits of the policy. It’s important to find out how your insurance provider defines and handles pre-existing conditions, and how your premiums may increase as your pet ages.
As a complement to your pet health insurance, a HomeAgain® annual membership also protects your pet with a suite of recovery services and wellness benefits, including:
- Lifetime microchip registration in a national Pet Recovery Database
- Around-the-clock access to an extensive team of lost pet recovery specialists
- Rapid lost pet alerts and personalized lost pet posters
- Free calls to the 24-hour ASPCA emergency medical hotline ($65 value)
- Travel assistance for pets found 500 miles or more from home (coverage up to $500)
Can I choose my own veterinarian?
You should be allowed to choose the veterinarian who will provide care for your pet, including specialists and emergency care providers.
Do I have to pay for veterinary care up front?
Pet insurance plans are generally reimbursement plans, meaning you pay the bills up front and are reimbursed by the insurance provider. Ask the insurance provider about the timeframe for reimbursement so you know what to expect.
How are pet health insurance rates calculated?
Pet health insurance premiums are typically calculated based on your individual pet’s breed, age and the cost of veterinary care in your area. For example, some breeds are predisposed to developing certain medical conditions, which may impact your premium.
In addition, your pet’s medical history may be requested and your veterinarian may be required to disclose your pet’s medical records.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has guidance on what you’ll need to know when considering pet health insurance at https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/pet-insurance.aspx.
In addition, the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA) offers a health insurance buying guide at https://naphia.org/find-pet-insurance/insurance-buying-guide/.
- American Pet Products Association (APPA). 2017-2018 APPA National Pet Owners Survey. http://www.americanpetproducts.org/pubs_survey.asp
- Datamonitor. Pet Insurance 2008
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). 3 Key Facts About Your Pet’s Veterinary Care. https://www.aspcapetinsurance.com/research-and-compare/more-articles/3-facts-about-vet-care/