What do you do if your pet needs life saving treatment, but you can’t afford the out-of-pocket fees? It’s a dilemma many pet owners face. 

Some pet surgeries can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Yet, only 44% of Americans have enough money in their savings to pay for a $1,000 emergency in general, let alone unexpected pet care costs. But luckily there’s a solution – pet insurance. 

Pet insurance provides coverage for emergency medical care at a much lower price than it would without protection. With pet insurance, you can worry less about “what if” and focus on spending more quality time with your beloved cat or dog.

So if you’re thinking about purchasing insurance for your pet, here are some of the common questions you may have, answered.

What is pet insurance?

Pet insurance is coverage created for pet owners to help manage veterinary bills. The coverage essentially works similar to health insurance for people. If your pet were to need treatment for an illness or condition that’s covered under your pet insurance policy, you would be reimbursed for certain medical expenses. 

There are typically two types of coverage: accident & illness coverage and accident only coverage. Accident & illness coverage, as its name suggests, offers protection if your pet becomes injured in an accident or if they were to develop an illness. Meanwhile, accident only coverage, while your premium may be cheaper, only covers for medical expenses related to an accident and not any health-related issues that may arise.  

As with any insurance policy, exclusions for certain care or illnesses may apply. For instance, pre-existing conditions, cosmetic procedures and breeding costs are typically not covered by most pet insurance plans. 

Below are some of the common conditions covered by pet insurance – but again – it’s important to check with your individual provider to understand their coverage restrictions before securing a policy.

Common illnesses covered under pet insurance for dogs include: hepatitis, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, skin conditions, allergies, and eye and blood disorders.

Common illnesses covered under pet insurance for cats include: skin allergies, hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, Type II diabetes, and infections.

It should be noted most pet insurance plans only cover cats or dogs. To get coverage for other pets you’ll typically need exotic pet insurance. 

How does pet insurance? 

When you have pet insurance, you will take your dog or cat to the vet and pay as you would normally. If your pet’s treatment is covered under your policy, you would then submit a claim to your pet insurance provider either through an app, over the phone, by email or mail, depending on the channels your provider offers. Your pet insurance provider will then review and process your claim, and if approved, you’ll get reimbursed for what you spent on your pet’s treatment.

How much money can pet insurance save pet owners?

Owning a pet isn’t cheap – according to the ASPCA, pet owners can find themselves spending more than $1,000 in the first year of owning their cat or dog. While pet insurance is an expense in of itself, considering how much you can save if something were to happen to your pet, it’s worth it in the long run. 

Pet insurance for accidents and illnesses typically costs $57 per month for dogs and $28 for cats for a $5000 policy with a $250 deductible and 90% reimbursement level, according to Forbes. Costs can vary by provider and factors such as the breed of dog, age, and location. 

So how does pet insurance save you money when your pet gets sick or injured? Let’s look at an example. 

Say your German Shepherd, Buddy, were to swallow a chicken bone and needed surgery to remove it. You’re given an estimate by your local animal hospital that surgery will cost $2,000 out of pocket. Your pet insurance policy covers 70% of this cost, meaning you would only have to pay $600 for the surgery out-of-pocket. As you can see, that’s a significant amount of savings.  

Even if you feel your pet is relatively healthy and that pet insurance isn’t necessary, an unexpected accident or illness could happen at anytime. That’s why it’s important to have the coverage you need when something does go wrong, so you can afford the treatment you pet needs.

What is “waiting period” for pet insurance?

A waiting period, also commonly referred to as a qualifying period, is the amount of time that must pass before pet insurance coverage kicks in. Preventative care for most pet insurance carriers starts the day of purchase, but when it comes to illness and accident coverage, there is almost always a waiting period.

MyLifeProtected’s partner, ASPCA Pet Health Insurance, for instance has a two-week waiting period. However, this can vary depending on your pet insurance provider, so it’s important to review your policy carefully.

How do I find the best pet insurance policy for my pet?

The best way to figure out what coverage matches your furry friend’s needs is to shop around and compare plan options. You’ll also need to decide on the type of policy your pet needs: accident and illness or an accident-only policy. If you’re unsure of what plan might be right for your pet, it’s best to do your research and consult your veterinarian if needed. As a reminder, most pet insurance plans only offer coverage for dogs or cats. 

Certain carriers may also allow for add-on products like wellness coverage. These plans provide coverage for vaccines, flea and tick medication, heartworm preventative, and dental cleanings – all items that can help your pet from getting sick. It’s important to note the difference between pet insurance and wellness plans though; the former is meant to help pay for medical costs associated with unexpected injuries and illness, while the latter helps pet owners pay for routine veterinary care. 

Additionally, talking to a knowledgeable agent will help you find the coverage that best matches your pet’s needs.MassDrive agents will work with you to make sure you’re getting exactly what you want and that you understand the intricacies of your chosen policy. We offer ASPCA Pet Health Insurance, which has different coverage levels to fit your needs, something our agents can help walk you through.

Ready to protect your pet? Click here to speak with an agent about coverage options or learn more on our site