What to Look for When Buying Pet Insurance

Buy a quality insurance plan to protect your pet.
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Pet insurance is available through numerous companies, each offering a variety of coverage plans. Choosing the best plan requires a thorough examination of your expected needs and current budget. In the case of low-risk animals without common health issues, insurance is often an unnecessary expense. Ultimately, selecting and buying an insurance plan will depend largely on the circumstances of the individual animal.

Veterinarian Choice

Look for insurance plans that do not restrict veterinarian choice. Many plans will dictate which vets you can and cannot visit; other plans leave veterinarian choice in your hands. This is important -- some vets have more experience with specific procedures and specific types of animals. Flexibility means you can choose the best possible vet for the job.

High and Low Deductibles

The deductible has a direct influence on your monthly payment or premium. A high premium lowers the deductiblel a low monthly payment increases the deductible. The deductible is the out-of-pocket expense you pay for each pet visit. Look for a high-payment, low-deductible plan for animals with health issues and elevated risk of needing regular care. Choose a lower payment with a higher deductible plan for young and healthy pets with traditionally lower risk of health problems.

Continuous Care Options

Look for a plan that provides "continuous care" coverage as an option. This ensures your pet will receive ongoing care in the case of long-term treatment needs. Most plans require occasional renewal, at sometimes higher rates. Plans without a continuous care option will reset and treat the illness as pre-existing. This will alter the payment and coverage options drastically. This is less important for young, healthy animals who carry a low risk of cancer and other long-term illnesses.

Coverage Options

Look for a plan that covers the majority of your vet costs. A quality plan will cover at least 90 percent of the total. Also, look for a plan that allows preventative care. Many cover simple checkups, shot appointments and scheduled annual visits. Make sure your plan has a clause for multiple preventative care appointments throughout the year.

Track Record

Research the company before purchasing any insurance plan. Multiple companies provide pet insurance, and first-hand reviews provide a window into operations and performance. Better Business Bureau ratings are a great starting point; independent reviews from current and past customers are helpful in making your final decision.