Top 10 Questions to Ask Before Buying Pet Insurance
January 31 | Hmmm...No Comments Yet
There are some dog owners who think it’s a total rip-off and others who swear by it, so what is the truth? Perhaps it lies somewhere in-between.
When we adopted our first Bernese Mountain Dog, back in 2008, I knew the breed had certain health issues which could become very costly. I looked into insurance but to cover what we required was very expensive. We opted to take our chances and not get insurance. Sadly we lost him to cancer. We now have two other adopted Bernese Mountain Dogs and, due to recent events, decided to rethink getting dog insurance.
Several weekends ago, one of our Berners began yelping in pain when he moved quickly. It turns out he had torn a ligament requiring a $3000 operation. Even if we had been putting aside a ‘pet emergency fund’ of $100 a month we’re still talking 2.5 years to get to cover the costs of the surgery. And of course it’s always easier to say you’re going to put the money away than to actually do it.
While insurance obviously would not cover an existing issue, I found out from the veterinarian when one knee goes there is a very good chance at some point the other one will too. We’re talking another $3,000 and that’s just the surgery which doesn’t include other expenses such as overnight care, rehab, and medications.
That’s what drove me to reconsider getting pet insurance. The question was where do I start?
It’s important that you find the best dog insurance to meet your specific dog’s needs. Here are what I found to be the top 10 questions you should ask before buying:
- Does it cover hereditary issues in certain breeds, like cancer? Very important, many policies do not.
- Would I be better off if I put the amount it would cost me each month for insurance in an ‘emergency fund’ to cover any issues I think my dog might have?
- If you have a dog with ligament issues and one leg has already had problems will the other leg be covered? You really need to read the fine print on this one.
- Does the insurance company decide what’s reasonable in terms of vet fees or is it whatever the vet charges will be covered up to your coverage amount? Since ‘what’s reasonable’ is subjective this makes me weary of this type of policy.
- What is the waiting period until the policy takes effect?
- Is there a cancellation period if you change your mind? Do you get all your money part or just a percentage?
- What is the reputation of the company? It’s always good to check out reviews from other people. For the best accuracy I always tend to toss out the worst and best reviews and focus on the ones in the middle.
- Can the prices increase as your dog gets older?
- Are things that you may want covered, like holistic care, included or an add-on? Those add- ons can add up quickly.
- Lastly, not a question but an important to do. Make sure you read all the small print so you know exactly what you are getting. I have found some policies look great until you delve into the page with all the fine print, aka, exclusions.
Also, it’s important to compare companies based on what your deductible is, what the reimbursement amount once your deductible is met would be, and what the payout cap is (lifetime, yearly, or individual or per incident). You want to make sure you compare apples to apples, so to speak. There are a lot of great sites that have unbiased comparisons of the different pet insurance companies and I urge you to look at each one. They are a great place to start your search and to help you narrow it down to a few choices.
The bottom line is that dog insurance probably isn’t the best bet in every case but in some cases it will save you thousands as well as giving you the peace of mind that you will be able to provide your pet with the best possible care when he/she needs it the most.
So do your homework, know all your options, and make an informed decision based on your needs.
Full disclosure: this post, although very personal to my situation, is a sponsored post.