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Insurance for Dogs

How Does Dog Insurance Work?

Insuring a dog is a decision many pet parents make to ensure their furry friend receives the best care possible. Dog insurance can help control the costs of expensive veterinary care, offering peace of mind. Here's what you need to know about pet insurance for dogs from

Key Takeaways

  • Dog insurance operates differently from human insurance.

  • Pet wellness care (vaccines, wellness exams, and blood work) are not covered by traditional dog insurance. These are usually covered by separate pet wellness policies.

  • Sometimes the cheapest dog insurance policy isn’t the best.

  • Having pet insurance can save you money in the long run if any major accidents or diseases occur.

How Does Dog Insurance Work?

Dog insurance primarily operates as a reimbursement program. You pay your veterinarian directly for any services or treatments, then send a copy of the bill to your insurance company for reimbursement of covered expenses. Some companies do offer direct payments to vets, but these are less common.

Pet wellness care, such as vaccines, wellness exams, and blood work, are usually covered by separate wellness plans. These can be purchased as standalone plans or as an add-on to a pet insurance plan for more comprehensive coverage.

Important Terms

  • Premium: The amount you pay for coverage, either monthly or annually.

  • Deductible: The amount you must pay before your insurance policy’s coverage takes effect. There are annual deductibles and per-incident deductibles.

  • Copay: The fixed amount or percentage you pay for covered services. The insurance policy pays the remainder, known as the reimbursement level or percentage.

  • Reimbursement level/percentage: The percentage of your dog’s care the insurance company covers.

  • Maximum payout (cap): The maximum amount the insurance company will pay, either per year or per incident.

What Does Dog Insurance Cover?

Dog insurance options can be divided into three categories:

  1. Accident and illness plans: Cover diagnostic tests, prescription medications, treatments, hospitalization, and surgeries for injuries or illnesses.

  2. Accident-only plans: Cheaper but only cover accidents, not illnesses.

  3. Wellness plans: Cover preventive care but not expenses from sickness or injury. These can be add-ons to accident and illness plans or standalone policies.

What’s Not Covered by Pet Insurance for Dogs?

Common exclusions include:

  • Preexisting conditions: Health problems present before the policy’s start date.

  • Waiting periods: The time before the policy takes effect.

  • Younger and older pets: Some policies have age restrictions.

  • Exams: Office visit and examination fees may not be covered.

  • Hereditary or congenital conditions: Some policies exclude these unless no symptoms were present before purchase.

  • Bilateral conditions: Conditions affecting both sides of the body.

  • Elective or cosmetic procedures: Usually not covered unless medically necessary.

  • Continual coverage for chronic diseases: Ensure your policy covers long-term treatments.

  • Breeding and pregnancy: Often excluded unless added for an additional cost.

  • Complementary care: Behavioral therapy, physical rehabilitation, and acupuncture may or may not be covered.

Is Dog Insurance Worth It?

Dog insurance can be highly valuable, helping to spread out expenses and ensuring your dog can get necessary care. According to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association, the average annual cost for an accident and illness policy is around $594. Considering the annual cost of health-related expenses for dogs ranges from $534 to $1,285, insurance can be a worthwhile investment.

How Do You Sign Up for Pet Insurance for Dogs?

If pet insurance is right for you, don’t wait to purchase a policy. Pet insurance coverage can benefit dogs at every life stage. Start researching policies with your coverage needs and budget in mind, and get quotes from at least three companies. Look for multi-pet discounts if you have more than one pet and consider a wellness plan for preventive care.

Just like human health insurance, dog health insurance can be a lifesaver in times of need. It can also save you money if major accidents or diseases occur. If you have questions about the best type of dog insurance for you and your dog's lifestyle, contact a licensed insurance agent or consult with your veterinarian.

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