7 Hidden Secrets About Pet Insurance

Vet examining a yellow lab's ear.

The most common pet parents often ask when contemplating whether or not to buy insurance for their little furry ones is “is pet insurance really worth it?” And many find out that there really isn’t a straightforward answer. If you head to a site like Reddit, you’ll what countless stories within the same thread with very opposing opinions and claims. It’s absolutely true: pet insurance is a total rip-off and can save you thousands on vet bills. 

We’ll go over some things you didn’t know or didn’t really consider about pet insurance. Hopefully, this will help you decide whether or not pet insurance is actually worth it. 

Secret #1 Pet Insurance Is… Just Insurance

We get lots of questions all the time about getting coverage for things like spaying neutering. The truth is, no, pet insurance will not cover claims for expected costs like this or for pre-existing conditions. The reason why is because pet insurance is just like any other insurance you’d purchase.

For example, if you buy a car with faulty steering, you can’t file a claim to get it fixed. However, in another scenario, if someone hits you and it affects your steering, you can file a claim to have everything repaired.

In a similar vein, you likely pay a small fee every month for things like hit and run coverage or uninsured motorist coverage. The chances of you being hit and needing upwards of a million dollars to cover your expenses are highly unlikely. However, on the off chance that you are hit and suffer extreme life-altering injuries, you’ll be very thankful for your coverage. 

In many scenarios, pet owners are faced with tough, unexpected challenges like cancer. Cancer treatments for pets can cost up to $30,000 in just one year. With pet insurance, you can have the majority of those expenses covered. 

Secret #2 To Save or Not To Save?

Many pet owners who do opt-out of pet insurance decide to just save what they would have spent on insurance and instead pocket the money for their pet. There are many cases where this can work. Let’s say you save $50 from each paycheck, and over the course of your pet’s first three years, you’ve saved a little under $4,000. If your pet does have an accident, such as swallowing something they’re not supposed to, you can use the saved funds to cover the majority of your expenses. 

Setting aside cash for your pet’s medical expenses is a great way to help with your vet bills, especially for things that won’t be covered by your pet insurance. 

And when it comes to pet insurance, you can’t think of it as a way to help pay for vet bills the way a savings account would. Instead, it does help mitigate your risk of being put into horrendous debt from a vet bill. If your pet suffers a long-term or chronic illness, your insurance will cover the majority of the costs. 

The best way to find out what’s covered and which route is best suited for you would be to call a potential provider directly to see what your pet is qualified for. 

Secret #3 You Need To Watch Out For Annual Limits

Your annual limit can refer to a number of things on your insurance policy. Ultimately, this is the maximum amount they will pay you out after making your claims that year. Before you agree to a policy, this payout limit is shared with you. Annual limits can affect you in one of three ways:

  • Per incident limits that end coverage after the limit on a certain condition.
  • Annual limits that end coverage after you hit the limit on your yearly balance. 
  • Lifetime limits that end coverage after a total dollar amount is hit.

You may not have any limits on your policy, it’s entirely dependent on your provider. And you should check with your provider to see which type of limit is on your policy. We recommend going with the highest coverage possible if there are certain limits on your policy.

For example, your plan includes a $5,000 limit on incidents. This isn’t too bad if your dog only has an accident once every couple of years. However, if your dog develops a chronic illness like diabetes, your insurance will only cover $5,000 from any diabetes treatments, which won’t last you long. 

You do have the option to add on coverage for an additional fee. However, the best way to avoid any confusion and headaches is to talk to an insurance expert directly. You can discuss with them what needs your pet has and how their personality can affect them in the future. 

Secret #4 You Still Pay Out-of-Pocket

Even if you get coverage, you still need to pay for your vet bill out-of-pocket after a procedure. To get a clear timeline on when you should expect to be reimbursed, talk to your insurance provider. 

If you’re unable to pay for the bill after a procedure, talk with your vet to see if there’s a way to work out a payment plan or another type of arrangement. 

After you pay the initial bill, your insurance can cover up to 90% of the costs of covered expenses. 

Secret #5 Premiums Inscrease With Age

The older your pet gets, the higher risk your pet holds. As your pet gets older, your premiums will increase. Be sure to speak candidly about this with your insurance provider. Some pet owners have their premiums double after just one year. This is understandably very shocking and upsetting for a lot of owners. The best way to avoid this is to understand how premiums change with age before you commit to a policy. 

Secret #6 Older Pets Don’t Really Benefit From Insurance 

Although older pets would benefit the most from insurance, the high premiums aren’t worth it for a lot of owners. After a certain point, an insurance provider may consider a lot of things a “pre-existing condition.” For pet owners who intentionally choose to adopt an older pet, this is incredibly frustrating.

Not all pet insurance providers are the same. Thoroughly research as many providers as you can before you commit to a policy. If you use a third-party compare tool like Quote Purple, you can connect right to a variety of pet insurance providers directly. 

(Not So) Secret #7 Pre-Exsisting Conditions Aren’t Covered

It’s the biggest shocker to pet insurance and a large reason why many owners are “ripped off” by their pet insurance. One of the best ways to avoid this is to thoroughly research several providers and get quotes from all of them before you buy. 

Speaking directly to your insurance provider about what’s considered a “pre-existing condition” is almost just as important as buying as early on. A pre-existing condition can be anything from a genetic condition to having a small issue early on. 

For example, let’s say you adopt a year-old dog with a small lump on her leg. The vet at the adoption center says the lump is not cancerous and has even been lab-tested, but you still purchase insurance to be safe. A few years later, you have the lump tested again and it’s cancerous. Your vet says you have no choice but to amputate the leg, but the insurance company won’t cover it because the lump existed before you purchased insurance, meaning it’s a pre-existing condition to them. 

It’s vital for you to distinguish with your insurance company what they consider a “pre-existing condition.” This is often where most pet owners not only waste money but don’t actually receive the coverage they spent years paying for. 

Is Pet Insurance Really Worth It Then?

In many scenarios, yes, pet insurance is totally worth it if you’re trying to avoid crippling debt because your pet had an accident or developed an unfortunate disease. However, if you expect your pet insurance to pay for every incident health concern your pet has, you may not get the coverage you need. 

Ultimately, it comes down to choosing the right pet insurance provider and being transparent with each other about your concerns. There are a lot of variables that can affect your coverage options that you should be well aware of before you sign up for a policy. 

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