Pet insurance pays, partly or in total, for veterinary treatment of the insured person’s ill or injured pet. Some policies will pay out when the pet dies, or if the pet is lost or stolen.
As veterinary medicine is increasingly employing expensive medical techniques and drugs, and owners have higher expectations for their pets’ health care and standard of living than previously, the market for pet insurance has increased.
however, pet insurance is actually a form of property insurance. As such, pet insurance reimburses the owner after the pet has received care and the owner submits a claim to the insurance company. Pet insurance policies primarily cover dogs, cats and horses though more exotic species of animal can obtain coverage.
UK policies may pay 100% of vets fees, but this is not always the case. It is common for UK pet insurance companies to discount their policies by offering customers the chance to pay an “excess”, just as with motor insurance. Excess fees can range from £40 to £100.
Policies in the United States and Canada either pay off a benefit schedule or pay a percentage of the vet costs (70-100%), after reaching a deductible, depending on the company and the policy. The owner usually pays the amount due to the veterinarian and then sends in the claim form and receives reimbursement, which some companies and policies limit according to their own schedules of necessary and usual charges. For very high bills, some veterinarians allow the owner to put off payment until the insurance claim is processed. Some insurers pay veterinarians directly on behalf of customers. Most American and Canadian policies require the pet owner to submit a request for fees incurred.
Previously, most pet insurance plans did not pay for preventative care (such as vaccinations) or elective procedures (such as neutering). Recently, however, some companies in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States are offering routine-care coverage, sometimes called comprehensive coverage. Dental care, prescription drugs and alternative treatments, such as physiotherapy and acupuncture, are also covered by some providers.
There are two categories of insurance policies for pets: non-lifetime and lifetime. The first covers buyers for most conditions suffered by their pet during the course of a policy year but, on renewal in a following year, a condition that has been claimed for will be excluded. If that condition needs further treatment the pet owner will have to pay for that him/herself. The second category covers a pet for ongoing conditions throughout the pet’s lifetime so that, if a condition is claimed for in the first year, it will not be excluded in subsequent years. However, lifetime policies also have limits: some have limits “per condition”, others have limits “per condition, per year”, and others have limits “per year”, all of which have different implications for a pet owner whose pet needs treatment year after year, so it is wise to be clear which type of lifetime policy you are considering.