Understanding Pet Insurance Policies

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According to the American Pet Products Association, 70% of U.S. households have at least one pet. If you’re among them, ensuring your pet receives the veterinary care they need to stay healthy is usually a priority. However, approximately 42% of pet owners couldn’t pay a surprise vet bill currently. As a result, a pet insurance policy may seem like a way to make handling a pet’s healthcare expenses more manageable.

The trick is that not all pet insurance policies are created equal. There are several different types of pet insurance, each with its own benefits and limitations. If you want to ensure you’re choosing the right option, here’s an overview of the most common kinds of pet insurance policies.

Accident Only Coverage

Accident-only pet insurance is a low-cost option that covers specific types of incidents. Usually, the coverage is limited to injuries relating to an accident – like a fall or impact – or mishap, such as swallowing a foreign object. This includes injuries that aren’t the fault of the pet (as long as they aren’t intentionally caused by the pet parent), as well as those that occur due to the pet’s behavior alone.

In most cases, the coverage isn’t limited to direct treatment. Instead, the policies usually also include diagnostic steps, such as X-rays or MRIs.

However, routine care and illnesses aren’t included in the base coverage. While some policies may allow you to get wellness coverage as an add-on, getting illnesses covered typically requires a different kind of policy.

Wellness Coverage

Wellness coverage – also referred to as preventative care coverage – is a type of policy that focuses on the everyday veterinary costs of pet ownership. It usually handles routine vaccinations, deworming, flea and tick medication, and spays or neuters. Some also include coverage for microchipping, and you may even get coverage for broken bones, though that isn’t always the case.

While there are a few ways to get wellness coverage on its own, it’s more common to secure it as an add-on or rider. That means you’ll potentially need another base policy – such as accident-only or accident and illness – to get wellness coverage for your pet.

Accident and Illness Coverage

Generally, accident and illness coverage is one of the more comprehensive pet insurance options, so it’s more expensive than accident-only policies. Along with handling costs related to injuries from accidents, the policy covers illnesses diagnosed by a vet.

Whether it’s a minor infection or something more severe, like cancer, the policy typically handles a significant portion of the cost. Inherited conditions are also possibly covered, though that may depend on whether these are diagnosed before you get a policy, the pet’s age, and other factors.

Additionally, diagnostic fees, treatments, surgeries, and medications relating to the incident are often covered. Depending on the policy, some chronic or pre-existing conditions are also potentially included in the coverage. However, the limitations and restrictions vary by insurer, so it’s crucial to review the details of the policy to confirm.