Laytonsville Veterinary Practice
Laytonsville Veterinary Practice

Pet Health Insurance

How to navigate policies based on your pet’s needs

Traversing pet insurance policies can be daunting. There are currently 12 different companies offering policies covering routine wellness to accident and illness. Like car insurance, pet insurance is something you hope to never use, but comes in handy when something unexpected happens. We’ve gone through and compared insurance plans, and based on our own experiences with the various companies, we recommend Embrace or ASPCA pet insurance policies.

What typeS of plans should I be looking at?

Pet insurance providers offer several different types of plans. Some of these plans only cover wellness visits (such as routine and annual appointments, vaccines, and planned surgeries such as spay and neuter procedures). Other plans are there to cover the costs associated with accident, illness or injury. Additionally, some plans offer both wellness coverage and accident/illness coverage - so it’s important to take into account your pet’s specific needs and risks while choosing an insurance policy.

Policies that cover wellness visits may be a good option for puppies and kittens, who require a series vet visits at an early age to receive all of the necessary immunizations. Additionally, these policies may cover the cost of your puppy or kittens spay or neuter. For other pets, the cost of wellness plans may not be as helpful, if the cost of premiums outweigh the cost of your pet’s routine visits. It is also always possible to drop the wellness portion of your policy if it no longer meets your pet’s needs.

Policies that include coverage for accident, injury & illness are frequently the best fit for most pets. As pet owners, we all know that the costs of treatment, hospitalization and surgery can quickly add up, so having a pet insurance policy that covers these things in place before an emergency can give you peace of mind.

Whichever policy you choose is right for your pet, remember that it is important to start coverage sooner rather than later, to avoid the chance of an uncovered emergency or pre-existing condition.

Where should I start?

As a pet owner, the best first step you can take is to review several plans from different providers and compare quotes. The quote you receive may be different than the quote another owner receives, as the cost of insurance is determined based on your pet’s specific age, breed and geographic location.

After getting your quote, we recommend that you call and speak to a representative and ask for specifics, such as:

  • What specifically is covered in this policy? For example, not all companies will reimburse you for your pet’s examinations. (ASPCA and Embrace pet insurance policies do)

  • What’s not covered? Accident and Illness plans don’t cover annual vaccines, but do cover unexpected medical expenses. However, there are some “bi-lateral” orthopedic conditions that are not always covered. For example, in the instance of a cruciate ligament tear, many companies will pay for the first surgical repair but not the second. (ASPCA and Embrace will pay for the second - as long as the first did not occur before the start date of the policy). As always, ask your insurance provider to fully explain how they characterize their pre-existing conditions.

  • What are the available plans, deductibles, and maximum annual payouts? There are different “levels” of accident and illness plans, which refers to what’s covered. In most cases you can pick your deductible, $250-$500. Of course, the lower your deductible the higher your premium. Some companies also carry a maximum annual pay out, which means there is a limit to how much they will reimburse. Other plans offer unlimited reimbursement. All of these factors will affect your monthly premium, and asking for clarification on these factors is key to understanding your policy.

  • How do premiums change as the pet ages? There will always be increases over time as your pet ages, ask when and how much you can expect.