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Getting The Best Value Pet Insurance

·5 min read

This one goes out to all the pet parents. Raise your hand if you’ve ever...

  • Come home to find the one square of carpet in your home covered in vomit.

  • Taken your dog out for a “quick” potty break that turned into an afternoon lawn-watering session.

  • Been woken up at 3 a.m. by alarmingly loud kitty coughs.

These incidents can be stressful, inconvenient, and—when the vet is needed—expensive.

More pet parents today are finding relief from these incidents by getting pet insurance, which is built to support pet owners with surprise vet bills for accidents and illnesses. The total number of insured pets in the U.S. nearly doubled from 2014 to 2018, according to the North American Pet Health Industry 2019 Report.

Insuring your cat or dog can be a value-add for the conscious pet parent, and the premium you pay can vary greatly based on the coverage you choose. Not only do many pet health insurance plans allow you to choose your deductible, annual limit, and reimbursement percent, but you can assess what type of coverage you need: accident, accident and illness, and wellness.

The trick in getting the highest value plan is understanding your pet’s needs. Get coverage for what you foresee using, don’t pay for what you won’t use. It sounds obvious, but it can get confusing when shopping plans. Here’s a breakdown to help...

Best on a Budget: Accident-Only Coverage

Ideal for: The pet who swallows everything in sight

Accident-Only Insurance helps pet parents cover bills when their dog needs surgery, wound care, poison control, and other care relating to an accident. This is the no-frills plan that only covers bills brought on by external events.

Accident only coverage premiums can be as low as $10/month* (cats) and $15/month* (dogs).

Pros: Has the lowest premiums and will still cover a lot of “uh-ohs.” 

Cons: Doesn’t cover sickness or any preventative care visits.

The Fan Favorite: Accident & Illness Coverage

Ideal for: The pet who may be susceptible to a hereditary disease or common sickness**

Yes, dogs get into accidents and swallow things they shouldn’t, but they also can get the flu, cancer, and hereditary conditions. Accident & Illness Coverage helps with the vet bills that come from sickness and disease in addition to accidents.

Price: Premiums likely run closer to starting at $20/month*** (cats) and $45/month*** (dogs).

Pros: Covers a wider range of health issues (and behavioral issues with some providers, like SPOT) for a middle-of-the-road price. This coverage is a recommended pick for anyone who isn’t clear on what their pet may require.

Cons: Doesn’t cover preventative care visits, more expensive than accident-only.

The Proactive Saver: Accident & Illness + Prevention Coverage

Ideal for: The pet who requires some scheduled upkeep

If your pet is going in for annual exams, dental cleanings, and deworming, you can get reimbursed for those bills with a plan that covers wellness. Prevention plans are generally a set amount added to your accident and illness based on the type of help you expect to need.

Preventative care is usually added to your monthly premium a la carte and can range from an additional $10/month to $25/month depending on provider and care covered.

Pros: You can submit claims on routine care like dental cleanings and wellness exams.

Cons: Not all insurance companies offer preventative coverage options, so if you’re interested in wellness, make sure that you pick a provider that has it, like Spot Pet Insurance.

The Frequent Flyer: Accident & Illness + Prevention Plus

Ideal for: Young pets who need to be vaccinated, spayed or neutered

If you’re frequenting the vet, this plan ensures that the greatest variety of your visits are covered (scheduled or not). Like with added prevention coverage, some insurers don’t provide this option, so make sure you have a good grasp of what’s covered in any coverage add-ons before you buy.

Pros: Often the only type of plan that covers spaying and neutering costs.

Cons: Biggest price tag on the premiums.

With any of the above options, pet parents often have the ability to further customize their premiums depending on common insurance variables like deductibles, percent reimbursed, and annual limit. If you’re willing to pay a higher deductible or get a smaller percent reimbursed, you pay a lower premium.

On the other end, if you fear your dog’s hips are a ticking time bomb and one day will require a $7,000 hip dysplasia surgery, you can set a higher annual spend cap and pay a little more per month to make sure you’re covered later.

Pet insurance is kind of like a puzzle. Once you understand how the pieces fit together, you can get the prettiest picture for your pet and your pocketbook.

*Prices vary based on plan type, age, breed, and location of pet being insured. Premium prices based on $5,000 annual limit, $500 deductible, and 70% reimbursement with SPOT Pet Insurance. Prices may vary based on pet age and breed as well as location.

** Pet insurance does not cover pre-existing conditions.

***Prices vary based on plan type, age, breed, and location of pet being insured. Premium prices based on $5,000 annual limit, $250 deductible, and 80% reimbursement with SPOT Pet Insurance. Prices may vary based on pet age and breed as well as location.

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