Should You Purchase Pet Insurance for Your Puppy?
11 June, 2018
pet insurance for puppies

By:  Lisa Fimberg

When you first bring home your new puppy, there are so many choices to make from the type of food to feed your pup to the type of crate or bed to purchase.  Another important decision to consider is whether you should purchase pet insurance for your puppy.   If you are going to buy pet insurance at all, the best time to do so is when your puppy is young and healthy.

Why should you purchase pet insurance for your puppy?

It might seem a bit counterintuitive to buy pet insurance for your young and healthy puppy, but there are many reasons why this is the best time.  When your puppy is young, you can be assured that your puppy won’t be denied for any pre-existing conditions.  A pre-existing condition can be something as simple as an allergy to something more complex like surgery for one of your puppies’ hips.

Even the AVMA endorses the concept of pet health insurance to help cover the cost of veterinary medical care. The AVMA states further that pet health insurance will be important to the future of the veterinary profession’s ability to continue to provide high quality and up-to-date veterinary service as the price of veterinary services continue to increase.

Your puppy can develop a chronic condition at a very young age

Sometimes we think that chronic conditions only occur in older pets. But, about 70 percent of atopy cases (allergies to something in the environment) develop between the ages of six months and three years of age. Atopy usually requires lifelong treatment for intense itching, which may have started out seasonal but can evolve into a year round problem. A dog with atopy can require chronic medication, allergy testing, and possibly even weekly to monthly allergy shots.

Your rambunctious puppy might hurt himself and you can save money when insuring at a young age

If you have a puppy that tears a cruciate ligament, your pup might need surgery that could cost close to $3500. Your veterinarian tells you not to be surprised if eventually the other leg develops the same problem. So you now decide to purchase pet insurance in case the other leg is affected. But, when you apply for pet insurance, you are surprised to learn that the pet insurance company considers this a “bilateral” condition and excludes it from coverage, even though it has only occurred in one leg at the time you sign up for insurance.  Or if you had insured your puppy prior to this occurring, you would have from 80 to 90% of both vet bills covered!

What is covered in a pet insurance policy for your puppy?

All of the top policies will have cover these conditions:

Illnesses

Accidents

Hereditary Conditions

Congenital Conditions

Chronic Conditions

Cancer

Diagnostic Treatment

Below are the medical treatments that are covered in the top pet insurance providers:

X-Rays, Blood Tests, Ultrasounds

Surgery

Hospitalization

Prescription Medications

Emergency Care

Specialty Care

Alternative Treatment

What is not covered?

Most insurance companies are structured to cover your puppy from the unexpected and you from the financial problems their treatment may cause.  Most pet insurance providers don’t cover pre-existing conditions, the vet examination fee, or preventative care, such as annual check-ups, vaccinations, spay/neuter procedures and teeth cleaning. With some policies, like Embrace , you can add a wellness package to your coverage which does cover these routine costs.

At what age can you insure your puppy?

Whether your dog gets into trouble that lands him in the emergency room or develops a disease later in life, your puppy’s medical care can cost you at any point in their life.  And if your start your dog at an early age, the premiums are much lower.  Most insurance providers will allow you to enroll your puppy at 8 weeks or older depending on the policy.

You can start protecting your precious puppy from anything like a pesky bee sting to parvo, a potentially life-threatening disease. Plus, if you enroll your dog before the age of 6, hip dysplasia coverage is covered by a lot of policies without the extra cost (each provider has a different policy of coverage).

Dogs six and older

As dogs age, hereditary and congenital conditions may affect your dog and these treatments can be expensive (although dogs of all ages are susceptible to these conditions). The good news is you that if you enroll your puppy at an early age, the hereditary and congenital disease will be covered.

A hereditary condition is one that is passed down from your puppy’s parents.  Some example are: hip dysplasia, bladder stones, epilepsy, heart disease, brachycephalic Syndrome (common in puppies like pugs).  Certain breeds, such as bigger dogs like Labradors and Golden Retrievers have issues with their hips such as hip dysplasia.  If your dogs are covered before these conditions occur, you will be covered.

Some examples of congenital conditions are the following:  cleft Palate, umbilical Hernia, inguinal hernia, limb deformities, all of which occurred at birth.

How puppy insurance works

With most insurance policies, you can visit any licensed veterinarian including the specialists and emergency animal hospitals that can truly make a difference in your pet’s care. After enrolling your dog, you will have a waiting period from 15 to 30 days and your dog is covered.

How much does pet insurance cost per month?

Your pet insurance is not just a function of the premium or monthly costs but there are other costs involved:

Deductible

Your plan deductible is how much money you will have to pay out of pocket before the pet insurance company starts paying.  Typically, a higher deductible will translate into a lower monthly premiums.

There are 3 different types of deductibles.

1. Annual Deductible – The annual deductible is the amount you pay (standard is around $200) before your pet insurance policy starts to pay. Once you’ve met your deductible, your pet insurance plan kicks in to reimburse you from 80 to 90% of all medical bills (depending on the reimbursement level you’ve chosen). A deductible is not a co-paymen

2. Per Condition Lifetime– The per-condition lifetime separates varying deductibles by condition. Once that deductible is met the company pays out for that condition according to the given reimbursement model for the rest of the dog’s life.

3. Per Condition Annual – Per condition annual again separates coverage according to condition. The deductible resets each calendar year.

What is a co-payment?

A co-payment (or co-pay), is the percentage of the total medical expenses you must pay once your deductible limit has been reached. For example, if your veterinary bill is $2,000 and you have a deductible of $500 and a co-pay of 20%, you would pay your $500 deductible and a co-pay of $300 (20 % off the $1,500 balance). Your insurer will then reimburse you $1,200 to cover the rest of the cost of treatment.

Reimbursement:

Reimbursement is the percent of the vet bill your insurance will pay. Most plans will allow you to customize the reimbursement options.

Actual cost means that, once you have satisfied your deductible, you will be paid a percentage (i.e.  80 – 90%) of your actual veterinarian bill. Most plans that use this model allow you to choose the percentage. This is our favorite as it gives you more options in the worst case scenario of what if this happened to my puppy.

Similar to your deductible amount, you can usually choose your co-pay amount when you take out your policy.

Benefit schedules are usually not the preferred choice as they set a maximum limit that your pet can receive.  So if your dog, for example, has three accidents in one year, you might end up paying the difference out of pocket.  However, if you choose an unlimited benefit schedule, like those from Healthy Paws, you can go the vet multiple times for the same condition and will be covered.

The monthly premium for puppy insurance

The monthly premium for pet insurance varies greatly depending on your pet’s breed, age and where you live: the monthly premium can range from as low as $10 to higher than $80 though most plans are between $20 and $40 per month for a plan with good coverage.

There are many factors that can affect your annual premiums for your pet including the age of your pet, breed, where you live, type of pet and whether your pet has a pre-existing condition (again, start your pet early!)  With most policies, the premiums increase as your pet ages.

Below are some other factors to consider that will affect the price of your premium.

Deductible: The higher the deductible, the lower the premium. Deductibles can range from $100 to as high as $1,000. The standard deductible for most policies is $250.

Coverage limits: Policies with higher coverage limits have higher premiums.

Reimbursement Percentage: The standard reimbursement percentage for pet insurance policies is 80%. Policies that reimburse at a higher rate tend to charge higher premiums.

Location If you live in a metropolitan area, veterinary rates and expenses tend to be higher and premiums for pet insurance are higher.

Age: An older pet costs more to insure than a younger pet.

Breed: The larger your dog is, the more expensive he or she is to insure.

To find the best value for your puppy, you’ll need to look at the quoted premiums against the coverage each provider offers for your specific pet’s health risk and needs.

Whether pet insurance is the right fit for you and your puppy depends on your puppy’s breed and your financial situation.  Talk to your vet about potential conditions that might occur with your puppy.  Pet insurance really is for the unexpected occurrence that your puppy might encounter. If nothing else, it is always a good idea to put some savings aside each month so you aren’t completely unprepared.

The best way to really determine if pet insurance is right for you is to talk to the top pet insurance companies.  Have your questions ready and make sure to get a few quotes to find the best policy for you and your puppy.   We even provided the 7 best pet insurance companies of 2018 to help you get started!

 

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