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Five mistakes to avoid when buying pet insurance

  • puppy_insurance_reuters.jpg

     (Reuters)

  • pets_dogs_ap.jpg

     (AP)

1. Don’t put it off!

The number one reason people cite for not purchasing a pet insurance policy is they “didn’t get around to it." Oftentimes, pet parents will wait until their pet is already injured or ailing before looking into pet insurance. 

The truth is, the best time to protect your pet is now. Insuring pets when they are young and healthy, before any problems arise, ensures that any accidents, illnesses and injuries will be covered, with no concern about pre-existing conditions (not to mention, young pets are statistically 2.5 times more likely to have an unexpected visit to the vet, according to claims data from Petplan pet insurance).

2. Lowest premium doesn’t mean best value.

While some policies may appear to have low monthly premiums, but when you look a little closer, the coverage they afford you is limited. 

Before buying a policy, you’ll want to know a few important things: 

- Will it cover chronic conditions for the life of your pet? Or will a condition be deemed pre-existing once the policy renews for an additional year? 

- Will the policy cover treatments your vet recommends, like MRIs, chemotherapy or hip replacement surgery, even if it is for a genetic condition? 

Make sure you won’t be left high and dry when faced with a big bill for a condition typical to your pet’s breed.

3. Beware of policies that don’t offer full coverage as standard.

Some companies may claim to cover things like hereditary conditions or cancer, but when you read the fine print, you find that they are not included in your standard plan. In many cases, you’ll need to purchase additional coverage, and even then there may be additional waiting periods or restrictions. When comparing pet insurance providers, make sure that your monthly premium includes full coverage for hereditary and congenital conditions as standard.

4. Read your Terms and Conditions.

The Terms and Conditions are your user’s guide to your pet insurance policy. They clearly lay out what is and is not covered by your policy, explain any waiting periods, and define certain terms such as “pre-existing condition.”  Some pet insurers, like the company I work for, Petplan pet insurance, offer complimentary underwriting during the first 30 days of the policy, helping customers know exactly what will and will not be covered under the policy at the point of claim.

5. “Wellness” plans aren’t insurance.

Most pet parents can easily budget for regular, known veterinary expenses like wellness visits, vaccines and monthly preventatives. It’s the unexpected vet visit for things such as chronic and acute conditions that can quickly add up to thousands of dollars in vet bills. Many wellness plans offer coverage for the expected stuff at the expense of the unexpected treatments, which can leave pet parents high and dry when they, and their pets, need coverage the most.

Chris Ashton is the co-founder and co-ceo of Petplan. He is pet parent to Wellington, a 9-year-old cavalier.