9 questions you must ask before buying pet insurance

There are at least a half dozen pet insurance companies in the United States and each one offers different coverage and different options. How is today’s pet parent supposed to navigate their way around all these choices?

These nine questions are designed to give you a headstart and save you time. As you learn more you will no doubt think of other questions too.

1. Does the pet insurance company give you a choice of deductibles, maximums, and copays? This is important because more choices mean more opportunities to design a plan to suit your budget.

2. Does the plan cover genetic conditions? Any pet can be at risk of genetic problems. Many pet insurance companies do not cover these but some do. For the most comprehensive coverage you want genetic conditions to be covered.

3. Does the plan cover chronic or recurring conditions? So if your pet gets sick in year 1, does it cover the same illness again in year 2? You want your plan to cover chronic illnesses.

4. Does the plan come loaded with coverages that you’ll pay for but probably never use, like “Lost & Found” or “Accidental Death”? Don’t pay for coverages that you’ll never use.

5. What is and is not covered? Is it clearly stated on their website or over the phone? You don’t want any surprises when you lodge a claim.

6. Does the plan pay claims based on a restrictive benefit schedule or the actual vet bill? You want to avoid plans with benefit schedules because they generally do not reimburse a very high percentage of your vet bill.

7. Are there per-incident limits that effectively cap the amount you could receive back? For example, some plans have a $3,000 per-incident limit. If you had a claim for $5,000 with one of these plans then the most you would get back would be $3,000.

8. How long does the company take to pay claims? Obviously the quicker, the better!

9. What are the company’s rules around pre-existing conditions? Are they excluded permanently or temporarily? Remember, no pet insurance plan will cover pre-existing conditionsstraight away but if you’re upfront with the company, they can be upfront with you.

Now that you’re armed with these questions, go online or call the companies to make sure that you’re getting what you expect from your pet insurance plan.

And as you learn about the different plans more you’ll be in a great position to ask the right questions so that you can make the right decision for your budget and your pet.