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A Beginner’s Pet Insurance Guide

cat sitting next to owner who is on computer

Pets are family. They relieve our stress, make us laugh, and comfort us in our times of need. It makes sense that pet parents want to protect their pets at all costs. But as pet healthcare prices continue to rise, pet parents are feeling the financial squeeze regarding veterinary bills. This beginner’s pet insurance guide is here to help!

One way pet parents can reduce the cost of sudden or unexpected veterinary care is utilizing pet insurance. 

When the Unexpected Happens

Below is a picture of Caroline, the pet parent of two golden retrievers, Goose and Scout. 

When Goose (left) got really sick last year, Caroline ended up having $30,000 in vet costs. She did everything she could for Goose, but Goose ended up passing away. When Caroline adopted Scout in February, she knew she wanted to find the right insurance that would cover expensive vet bills. Her insurance plan has already covered Scout’s urology specialist visits and two sock swallowing accidents. 

woman hugging a dog
woman hugging a dog

With research and a little time, pet parents can find a pet insurance plan that works for their family and budget.

Choosing a pet insurance policy can be a daunting task. The first thing to know is that there is no “one size fits all” insurance plan that works for every family. You can ask yourself and an insurance representative the questions below as a starting point for researching the right policy for you and your pet.

1. Does this plan cover wellness visits or exam fees?

Discovering pet health issues early minimizes veterinary costs down the road. Just like with humans, preventative wellness visits and routine physicals can help to spot any issues before they become more serious. Pet insurance plans often reward pet parents for scheduled wellness visits.

2. Are there waiting periods?

Pet insurance policies often have waiting periods. A waiting period is a block of time between when a pet parent initiates a policy and when the pet becomes fully covered. There can be different waiting periods for different ages and conditions Be sure to ask a potential insurance company what their waiting periods are for and how long they are. Examples include:

    • Accident Waiting Period (typically the shortest)
    • Illness Waiting Period
    • Orthopedic Waiting Period (sometimes can be shortened with a special orthopedic exam) 

3. Is holistic pet healthcare covered?

Holistic avenues of pet health care exist just as they are available for people. Like traditional health insurance, these alternative avenues of treatment are sometimes covered. If you value holistic care, be sure to see if a prospective pet insurance plan covers it first.

4. Is there a lifetime limit?

A lifetime limit is the maximum amount of money a pet insurance company will pay for a singular pet during its life. This is important to know because if your pet has issues early in its life, it may not be eligible to receive benefits later.

5. Are breed-specific conditions covered with this plan?

Some breeds of pets have common medical issues associated with them. For example, pugs frequently experience breathing issues due to their flat face and nose. Pet insurance companies may not cover common breed-specific or congenital issues. It’s important to know any breed-specific issues your pet may have before researching for a pet insurance plan.

6. Does pet insurance work with veterinary virtual care?

There are pet insurance plans that will reimburse pet parents for telemedicine appointments done with a licensed veterinarian. Our Owner FAQ discusses more.

Pet insurance can be a life-saver for pet parents with unexpected veterinary bills. If you have any questions about wellness and prevention, or breed-specific conditions you should be aware of, a Hello Ralphie vet can provide answers and help you feel more prepared during your research. 

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