When our dogs are healthy, most people don’t even think about their options as it relates to pet health insurance. No one really likes paying for insurance whether it’s health insurance, car insurance, or homeowners insurance. If there’s nothing wrong, why pay the extra money? Is pet insurance worth it? That is a common and logical thought, but what happens when the unexpected happens? 

This is where pet insurance comes in. Of course no one wants to think about their dog getting sick or being in pain, but like us, they may end up being in the hospital at some point in their life, and you already know that even the smallest visits can add up cost-wise.

How does pet insurance work?

The pet insurance claims process itself is generally relatively simple. Usually, the pet parent will personally submit their claim to the insurance company and follow the steps below:

  1. Take your dog to the vet.
  2. Pay the bill in full at the time of service.
  3. After the visit, complete a pet insurance claim form and submit it to the company.

The pet insurance company then reviews your claim and reimburses you directly.

The amount you are reimbursed depends on the plan you choose with the pet insurance company.

There isn’t a network regarding which veterinarians are accepted in most cases like we have for human health insurance, so you don’t have to worry about seeing an ‘in-network’ veterinarian. You’re able to visit any veterinarian anywhere in the United States.

Choosing the right health insurance for your dog

Choosing a pet insurance plan can be tricky, and at times, overwhelming. There are so many companies to choose from these days that you will find yourself looking through a handful of potential policies. One of the best tips for determining which type of insurance you’re looking for involves writing down what you’re looking for before you even search it.

What would you like a pet insurance plan to cover? Then, you can look through the available policies and see which one matches. Apply for quotes. And don’t worry, similar to our insurance quotes, you aren’t under any obligation to purchase a plan when you receive a quote.

What is a deductible?

In most cases, pet insurance has a premium, much like our health insurance policies. The premium is the amount you must pay before the insurance company pays your bill.

You can choose your deductible for most pet insurance companies. In general, the lower the deductible, the higher the monthly payment. So, if your dog is sick, would you rather pay a lower monthly premium and get a higher deductible? Do you want to pay a higher monthly premium in return for a lower deductible? That's your decision as you're building your policy.

Pet insurance and pre-existing conditions

The younger your dog is when you enroll him, the better. Pre-existing conditions, similar to our health care policies, are normally not covered. Pre-existing conditions would be less likely if you enroll your dog while they are young. When enrolled as a puppy, you'll likely be fortunate enough to have insurance before any pre-existing conditions are apparent. 

A dog that is 8 weeks old, for example, almost never has any pre-existing conditions. If you enroll your dog at this age and she gets sick before she's a year old, her condition is more likely to be protected by her health insurance policy. And, if you keep your policy for the rest of your dog's life, the majority of health issues are more likely to be covered.

If your dog is one year old and already has a disability, it will be considered pre-existing and will not be covered (until it has been labeled as ‘cured' for at least six months).

A few examples of dog health insurance plans

While we cannot make any personal recommendations on which pet insurance (if any) is right for you and your dog, these are a few of the more common plans available. The best mode of action is to do your research and call each company below (and any others you encounter in your search) directly to ask more detailed questions. 

  • Embrace Pet Insurance can be purchased at any time, as long as your dog is under 14 years old. To get a quote, fill out the free online quote form with your details.

Your dog can't be dropped once you've successfully registered for pet insurance. As long as the monthly payment is made, she will have pet insurance indefinitely.   

You don't have to be concerned about being "in the network." There are no pet insurance networks. You have the choice of seeing any veterinarian. 

Embrace has annual payout caps that vary from $5,000 to $15,000 depending on the package you select. The deductible can be anywhere between $200 and $1,000. Reimbursement levels vary between 65 and 90 percent.

  • Nationwide Pet Insurance (yes the same company behind “Nationwide is on your side”) also offers up to 90 percent reimbursement with a deductible between $100-$250. Dogs can be enrolled as long as they are under 10 years of age.

Nationwide offers all pet insurance customers access to a vet hotline. As long as your dog is enrolled, you can call a veterinarian 24 hours per day, 7 days a week with questions.

  • Trupanion Pet Insurance provides a single package with a reimbursement rate of 90%. There is no limit on how much you can spend. They even provide vet direct pay, which means you just pay the portion you owe at the veterinarian's office when you check out, and Trupanion pays the veterinarian within minutes. That's a convenient feature — no more making claims or waiting for checks to arrive in the mail.

How much does dog insurance cost?

The monthly cost of pet insurance varies, but generally you can count on it being between $35-$200 per month based on what you choose in your plan. In most cases, you will design your own plan and the more you would like covered, the higher the premium. Regardless of where the monthly cost is on the spectrum, it isn’t anywhere close to what you would pay if something were to go wrong.

For example, just for the veterinary office visit you’ll likely be paying at least $40. If additional blood work is necessary, fecal tests are requested, prescriptions are ordered, or your dog requires routine visits for pain-causing conditions like arthritis that’s extra- and it adds up quickly. 

According to Embrace Pet Insurance, one in five dogs have difficulties with arthritis. Dogs who have a mild form of arthritis may only need occasional x-rays and medication. Dogs who are experiencing moderate to severe arthritis may require surgical intervention resulting in higher vet bills (routine visits, surgical cost, pharmaceutical costs, x-rays, etc). 

Preventing dog joint health problems

Joint health issues, specifically osteoarthritis, is one of the top ten most common reasons that dogs visit the veterinarian. And since pet insurance will never cover 100% of your costs when you visit the vet, it is worth discussing preventative measures you can take as a responsible pet parent.

There are many joint supplements for dogs on the market, but Canine Cush is one of the highest-quality products available. It’s different than many in that it doesn’t contain the additives and synthetics found in most other products. 

Canine Cush is 100% natural, veterinarian-formulated, made in the United States, and combines all of the high quality ingredients in one supplement: phytocannabinoids, egg shell membrane, boswellia, and curcumin. If you do a bit of research, you’re likely to find one of these four ingredients in most natural supplements for joint pain.

Take action

Now that you've learned a bit more about pet insurance, it's time to take action preferably sooner than later (to reduce the chance of pre-existing conditions).

  • Examine the plans provided by each insurance company.
  • Compare the costs.
  • Take a look back at your list and see which company covers most of what you're looking for (if not all).
  • Prevent vet visits in the first place with effective preventative care

Most importantly, be certain that purchasing health insurance feels like the correct choice for you and your dog. If you do decide to go this route, ensure you're choosing the best company for your unique dog at a reasonable monthly cost.

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