When you’re shopping for a pet insurance plan, rule number one is be sure to only deal with a licensed agent. Also note that the policy you’re considering must be approved and registered in your geographic region. As you conduct your research for pet insurance you’re sure to encounter a wide array of different product plans.
The type of insurance that pet insurance companies typically deal in is indemnity insurance. This is the type of insurance that compensates you for actual and provable financial losses that you’ve encountered as a result of pet illness or accident. Or other care that explicitly falls within the coverage of the policy. As a result you will only be compensated for the provable financial loss and not the face value or limit of your plan.
When you take your pet to see a veterinarian, due to an illness or injury, you will be required to complete a claim form. You will have to ask your vet to fill out their portion of the form and upon completion you’ll submit the claim to your insurance provider. Subsequent to their approval, you will be issued a reimbursement.
Alright with that out of the way let’s talk about the main categories of pet insurance. Make sure you understand this well as you’ll want to carefully consider the pet insurance plan that’s right for you and best fits your needs as you shop.
[per condition, maximum amount per year with rollover]
This type of policy as the name indicates, provides lifelong coverage for your pet. As you may have guessed, these policies have a higher price tag and offer more complete coverage. All that’s required is for you to periodically renew the policy as stipulated when you signed up (e.g. annually). The great part about this plan is that if you make a claim for a particular condition early in your pets life, you’ll still be able to make claims in later years.
Keep in mind, that as with all policies, this type of policy only covers new medical illnesses or injuries. Meaning that any condition that occurred before you took up your policy will not be covered.
A lifetime policy may offer a “lifelong” reimbursement cap on a per condition basis for your pet. Meaning that once you’re over the “lifelong” cap, you’re on your own. This cap is often quite high as it belongs to this more premium type of coverage but be sure to check the details of your plan. You may find this class of insurance policy type come in a per condition per year limit format. In this case, if your pet exceeds the limit over the course of one year of coverage, you’ll have to pay the excess amount. But as long as you renew your plan, the condition limit to which you have access will be reset and you’ll be able to receive reimbursements for that condition again in the future. As long as you stay with this policy, there is no limit to the number of times you claim against a particular condition. A great option if you’re pet has the unfortunate luck of having to receive treatment for a chronic or recurring illness.
Maximum Benefit Policies
[per condition, maximum amount]
In this case, a set amount of veterinary fee coverage is provided for each condition that your pet may encounter. Every illness and injury is alotted a maximum claimable amount. The upside of this plan is that no time limit exists. So if your pet develops a recurring condition, you’ll be able to receive reimbursements, over time, up to the maximum claimable amount.
The downside of this type of pet insurance policy is that once you’ve hit the maximum amount you’re done. Any future treatments associated with the illness or injury will never be covered again. Also keep in mind that this condition coverage is final. By that I mean, if you’ve met your maximum for a particular condition and your pet develops the same condition on another part of the body, it’ll be deemed to be the same condition even though it’s occuring in a different area and you will not receive coverage.
12 Month Policies
[per condition, with time limit]
These are interesting policies in that once your pet has been diagnosed and begins veterinary treatment both a 12 month countdown begins and a maximum claim amount during that time frame is put in place for that particular condition. Once the clock starts you can make claims, as it relates to that condition, for 12 monthsor until you’ve reached the financial limit of your plan.
When the 12 month countdown or financial limit is reached, it’s likely that your insurer will transition that condition and it class as it does any other pre-existing conditions. Assuming you keep your policy active, you’ll be able to make claims for other conditions but any further bills associated with the previously claimed condition will now have to be covered by you.
Accident Only Policies
This is a light weight form of pet insurance. They, generally, class accidental injuries and provide a maximum financial reimbursement amount for each. They may or may not have a 12 month limit associated with them.