Frequently Asked Questions
Pet health insurance can be confusing. These pet insurance facts and answers to frequently asked questions should help to simplify terms and explain the process, policies, and fine print to help you pick the best coverage for your pet.
Pet insurance is an insurance policy that helps to cover the cost of veterinary bills when your dog or cat gets sick or is injured. The cost of the policy is called the premium and it is typically paid monthly.
When you take your pet to a licensed veterinarian for treatment of an illness or injury, you pay the bill at the time of service and submit a claim for reimbursement. This is known as reimbursement-based coverage, and it also applies to most wellness benefit packages. Most providers allow you to use any licensed vet in the U.S. or Canada.
There are three main types of pet insurance plans—coverage for accidents and illnesses, accident-only coverage and coverage for wellness benefits. Many providers offer the option to add a wellness package to any accident and illness or accident-only plan.
The annual limit is the cap on benefits that your provider will pay toward covered expenses in one policy year. Annual limits vary by provider and impact the cost of your monthly premium.
The deductible is the amount you pay for covered expenses before your pet insurance plan starts to pay. Most plans have an annual deductible. For example, with a $500 deductible, you pay the first $500 of covered expenses yourself. After you’ve met your deductible, any claims for covered expenses are then reimbursed according to the percentage you selected at the time of enrollment, for the remainder of your policy year.
Reimbursement is the amount you are paid back for claims on covered expenses after your annual deductible has been met. It is expressed as a percentage ranging from 60% to 100% depending on the provider and plan you choose.
Before approving a pet insurance policy to be issued for your pet, some providers require a physical exam of your pet or require veterinary medical records be submitted for review.
A pre-existing condition is anything that relates in any way to your pet’s medical history before the policy started, or in some cases including those that manifest during any applicable waiting period. Pre-existing conditions are excluded from coverage and your insurance policy will list the things your pet will not be covered for as exclusions. These exclusions also apply if you change insurance providers, whether or not a claim was ever made.
All pet insurance plans have waiting periods, which is the period of time before your policy’s coverage is in effect. Claims for coverage of any accident or illness that begins to show symptoms during the policy waiting period are excluded. On average, waiting periods range from 10-30 days and vary by provider.
No pet insurance provider covers pre-existing conditions, but a pre-existing condition will never prevent you from obtaining coverage. Some providers may cover curable pre-existing conditions if the pet goes 12 months without symptoms or treatment for a previous condition. Incurable pre-existing conditions may never be covered.
Even if an existing health problem or age limit disqualifies your pet from an accident and illness plan, you may still have some coverage options. These are typically accident-only plans and/or wellness plans.
All pet insurance providers have some age restrictions when you enroll your pet. Most have a minimum age requirement and will not insure pets under six or eight weeks old. Some pet insurers also have maximum age limits, which means you need to enroll your pet before a specific age.
The cost of pet insurance varies by provider and plan type, and by other factors including the breed, age and gender of your pet, where you live, and plan options including the annual limit, deductible and reimbursement percentage.
Pet insurance is a reimbursement-based model, which means you pay the vet bill at the time of service and submit a claim for reimbursement of covered expenses. Most insurance providers make it easy to submit a claim through an app or online portal, or by fax, email or postal mail. Claims processing time varies by provider, but you can typically expect reimbursement in 5-15 calendar days from receipt of complete information to adjudicate your claim. Once approved, payments are usually released within 24 hours.
As your pet ages, the premium for your pet insurance plan will also increase because, like humans, the risk of illness increases with age. Overall, the impact of your pet’s age on the cost of coverage can vary quite a bit across pet insurance providers and plans, so it is important to consider this before choosing your coverage.
Yes, many pet insurance providers offer discounts. They vary by provider with some, for example, offering a discount on the first month of insurance or for insuring two or more pets. Most providers also offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.