Navigating pet health insurance can feel confusing and overwhelming. Each provider’s plans are slightly different and determining which—if any—are right for you can be difficult. At Envision More Veterinary Ophthalmology, our team understands that specialty care can be expensive, and we encourage pet owners to obtain pet health insurance if it fits in their monthly budget. We also recognize that pet insurance isn’t right for everyone. To help you understand the merits and potential downsides, we answer common pet health insurance questions.

Question: What is pet health insurance?

Answer: Pet health insurance is a financial product designed to help cover veterinary expenses. Pet insurance policies provide coverage for accidents and illnesses, including chronic diseases and hereditary disorders. However, pet insurance differs from human health insurance, because pre-existing conditions are never covered and wellness care coverage is available only as an optional add-on. Rather than focusing on prevention like human health, pet insurance focuses on unforeseen expenses.

Q: How does pet health insurance work?

A: You can purchase a pet insurance policy with minimal fuss by visiting the provider’s website and filling in a few details about your pet and where you live. Pet health insurance reimburses you for eligible veterinary bills after you pay your veterinarian and submit a claim to your company. A few providers offer direct veterinary payments under specific circumstances, but this is less common than reimbursement. As the policyholder, you are responsible for paying monthly premiums, an annual deductible, and typically 10% to 30% coinsurance on eligible expenses.

Q: Why would someone want pet health insurance?

A: Pet health insurance offers peace of mind against unexpected veterinary expenses and ensures pet owners can afford veterinary care for their pet during emergencies or unforeseen illnesses. Pet owners who have previously been faced with heartbreaking decisions may choose to purchase a pet insurance policy to avoid economic euthanasia or similarly difficult treatment choices with their next pet.

Q: Why would someone not want pet health insurance?

A: Some pet owners prefer to save the money they’d spend on premiums, which they earmark  for their pet’s care, bypassing the rules and limitations of a pet insurance policy. Others may have the financial resources to pay for large bills out of pocket or believe the cost-benefit analysis of an insurance plan isn’t favorable. 

While pet insurance plans do have limitations and you should ensure you read and understand the fine print, the idea behind insurance isn’t to get back everything you’ve paid. After all, you pay for car and home insurance that you need only occasionally. Pet insurance is similar in that the goal is a financial safety net should you need it—you pay for peace of mind for the “what ifs.”

Q: How does pet insurance help pet owners of breeds prone to eye health issues?

A: Pet insurance can be particularly beneficial for breeds we see frequently with genetic or breed-related eye health issues, such as the pug, English bulldog, chow chow, or shar-pei. Many common breed-related conditions require either potentially costly surgery or life-long medical management, for which costs can add up quickly. Taking out a pet insurance policy before problem signs develop is the best way to get financial assistance with these disorders.

Q: How do I decide if health insurance is right for me?

A: If you have any inkling that you might want to try a pet insurance policy, start researching when your pet is young and purchase the best policy then. You can cancel the policy if you’re disappointed in the service, but keep in mind that as your pet ages and compiles a medical history, any condition they’ve had during the current policy will be considered pre-existing and will be excluded from coverage on a new policy.

Understanding how pet health insurance works and considering your pet’s unique circumstances can help you make an informed decision about purchasing a policy. Our Envision More Veterinary Ophthalmology team feels pet insurance is helpful for most pet owners, but you must buy a policy before your pet develops any eye concerns to ensure they’re covered. Whether or not you have a policy, call us to schedule a visit if you have concerns about your pet’s vision or eye health, or if you still have questions about insurance.