- Pet owners can purchase insurance to cover veterinary visits for their pets.
- Pet insurance has important differences from human health insurance.
- One of the biggest differences is that pet insurance doesn’t have to cover pre-existing conditions.
Pet owners who purchase coverage should make sure they know exactly how pet insurance works, including how it differs from health insurance that humans get.
Although human and animal insurance coverage aims to ensure that an illness does not drain a bank account, the differences between the two types of policies could have a major financial impact.
Here are three big ways pets aren’t as well covered by insurance, compared to people who are covered.
1. Pet insurers can exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions
If you buy human health insurance, it will pay for the treatment of all medical conditions covered by the policy, even if you had one of those conditions before you got your policy. Nor can an insurer prevent you from taking out insurance even if you are already sick when you do so. Also, the insurer cannot charge you more if you have an illness before you are covered.
With pet insurance, this is definitely not the case. Insurers can and will deny coverage for your pet’s pre-existing medical conditions. And some insurers define this broadly – for example, they deny all future issues related to digestive disorders if your pet’s medical records show they had tummy issues before you were covered.
Although you can still purchase a policy for a pet with a pre-existing condition, you should be aware that coverage for related issues will be excluded. And, ideally, you should get coverage before your pet develops health issues to make sure those medical issues aren’t ruled out.
2. Pet owners usually have to pay the entire bill out of pocket and then request a refund
If you see your doctor and your insurance covers your care, you won’t have to pay up front and wait for reimbursement when you have human health insurance. You’ll probably have to pay a co-pay (depending on your insurance plan), but the doctor will bill your insurer and get the rest of their money from the insurance company.
If you have pet insurance, however, you’ll need to be prepared to pay the vet for your pet’s care. Bank account or use your credit cards when receiving treatment. It is then up to you to file a claim with your pet insurer for reimbursement.
This puts the responsibility on You, rather than the doctor’s office, to submit care information to the insurer. It also means you may have to find a lot of money up front for care and then wait to collect it, so be sure to choose a pet insurer that pays claims in a timely manner.
3. There are usually lifetime coverage limits for pet insurance
Your health insurer cannot cut coverage for most medical conditions once you have spent a certain amount of money on treatment. There are no lifetime limits on the amount of care your human health insurance will pay. This is not the case with pet insurance, as most insurers impose coverage caps.
Being aware of these three big differences can help you better understand what pet insurance can do to help your finances and help ensure your pet’s care is within your reach.