What is Pet Insurance Anyways?

Not to be confused with pet liability, pet insurance is something every pet owner should think about. What does it cover, and should you get it?

Pet insurance covers dogs, cats, and sometimes exotic animals (anything outside dogs and cats). However, take time to read the policy carefully to ensure coverage for your bird, rabbit, lizard, or other pet.

Here are the four most common types of pet insurance plans and what to know when shopping.

  • An accident-only plan covers just those things: accidents or injuries like inadvertently swallowing something they shouldn’t have. It might also cover being hit by a car or a ligament tear.
  • The most common type – accident and illness plans – include illnesses such as cancer, allergies, infections, and some other diseases.
  • The third type, insurance with embedded wellness, is more comprehensive. It should cover accidents, illnesses, and vaccinations. This kind of policy might also include heartworm prevention, dietary consultations, flea and tick treatment, dental care, and cremation, or burial.
  • As with any health insurance policy, you can get riders or endorsements on the policy to cover additional vet care. For the most part, wellness plans only come as a rider on another type of plan.

Unlike medical insurance, pet insurance does not carry standard, tiered classifications. Review each company’s policies to see how they package each option. Most policies require a minimum age of six to ten weeks to sign up, different for dogs versus cats. And ensuring elderly pets might prove difficult with age caps – you might be relegated to an accident-only policy.

What is a pre-existing condition? Similar to people, congenital conditions or hereditary disorders fall into this non-covered classification. Any care related to these conditions will be out-of-pocket expenses for you. However, under certain circumstances, the policy might cover some costs.

Breed restrictions exist, unfortunately, meaning a higher premium due to a tendency for specific conditions. This makes those breeds higher risk – similar to a teenage driver. Purebred pets can also fall into this higher-cost category.

Carefully read any exclusions of what the policy does not cover. You’ll have deductibles, premiums, annual limits, and probably treatment caps just as with health insurance. Plans are less expensive when your pet is younger, but you will likely want and need pet insurance as they age.