Keeping our pets healthy is at the top of our lists.  As pet care options improve, we are provided many options to keep them healthy.  With those optins, often come a large expense.  To help families ensure their pets are healthy, pet insurance options have also increased. This guide gives you the points to consider when deciding if pet insurance is the right options for your family and our top rated options to get started.

STEP 1: Pet Insurance Evaluation:

Learn the ins and outs of Pet Insurance coverage so you can knowledgably assess various plans and the benefit and cost a plan could have for your family. Pet inurance has many benefits, however it can be expensive and may have less coverage than human insurance.  Another rule of thumb is that insurance premiums tend to be less expensive for younger pets, the coverage often includes more and the deductibles are lower, as your pets age the premiums and deductibles tend to inclease and covering limitations increase as well.  Taking time to evaluate cost vs. benefit is important to ensure it is the right investment, as well as that you select the right type of plan.

1. Plan Types: The most common types of plans are:  Accident Only, Limited Time, Mazimum Benefit, Wellness and Lifetime Policy

2. Term:  Many plans are month to month, but review the policy to ensure there is not a penalty for early cancellation.

3. Coverage:  Check the plan for important coverage detail including:

a. Age Minimum and maximum

b. Vet exam requirement

c. Waiting Period

d. Pre-existing Conditions or complications related to breeding.

e. Breed Restrictions and Conditions.  Hip dysplasia and ACL surgery are common to be omitted for certain breeds.

f. Other Restrictions

4. Wellness: Some plans don’t include wellness care, but it can often be added for an additional cost.  Ask about vaccinations, flea and heartworm prevention, dental care, spay/neuter procedure, wellness exams and tests to know exactly what is and is not covered.

5. Medical care benefits:  Often each type of needed care may covered at a different rate or may be excluded.  Review the summary of benefits for procedure coverage amounts, limitations (such as time or number of incidents) and exclusions. Examples include: Chronic conditions, surgeries, overnight vet stays, emergency care, office visit fees, cancer care, prosthetics, medical devices, dental care, anesthesia, prescriptions, euthanasia, x-rays, exams, lab tests, illnesses, injuries, medically required special diets.

6. Wholistic/Alternative Care: Ask about coverage for non-traditional care such as therapy, acupuncture, behavioral counseling and massage.

7. Additional Coverage:  Boarding, personal property damage, advertising for lost pets, loss due to theft or straying, death from injury or illness, vet call line, vacation cancellation and discounts on services or products.

8. Reimbursement Options:  Percent of Procedure coverage or annual maximum

9. Deductibles:  per-incident deductible or annual deductible

10. Co-Pays:  generally there are co-pays associated with care, mostly for wellness plans, but sometimes for other care as well.  

11. Discounts:  You might be eligible for multi-pet discounts, online sign-up, auto-pay, multiple policy discounts if you bundle it with your home or car insurance, find a group plan through your employer, a pet group you may belong to or your vet, as well as other discounts if you follow certain care routines or healthy standards.

Step 2: Pet Insurance Selection Guide:

1. Start your research online. Visit www.novadogmagazine.com/Insurance for our top-rated list and to access quotes.

2. Costs:  Pet insurance can start as low as about  $30/month for puppies and small dogs.  A middle aged-dog medium sized rate would start at $50/month.  An older, larger dog’s rate would start around $80/month.  Adding options, selecting lower deductibles and increased coverage increases rates well into the $300+/month range.  The options vary greatly so doing a thorough comparion is very important. 

3. Get at least 5 quotes, it’s a relatively quick and easy process online to get quotes, comparing them in detail will take the most time.

4. As you are getting quotes, check the options to customize your plan.  Most providers have this option and you are able to select additions, change deductibles, add wellness programs, and much more, which allows you to create a plan that works better for your family and budget.

5. Review each providers FAQs to learn more in-depth about the plan, billing, cancellation and coverage details.

6. Here is a list of some providers to use as a starting point.  Heathy Paws, Pet Plan, Trupanion and FIGO proved to be some of the top plans in our research:

• Healthy Paws

• PetPlan

• Trupanion

• Figo

• Pets Best

• PetFirst

• Pet Partners

• Pet Premium

• Embrace

 Nationwide

• 4Paws

• PetAssure

7. Once you narrow your selection down, invistigate the following for the providers at the top of your list:

• How long have they been in business?

• What is their Better Business Bureau Rating?

• How easy is it to submit claims?

• How fast do they repay claims?

• Do they have good customer service? What hours are they open?

• Is there an app available?

• Is their website easy to use?

• What’s their rating from the Better Business Bureau?

• Can you make changes to your plan?

• Do they offer a money-back guarantee or free trial?

• How do you cancel?

8. It is important to review your plan, or consider a plan if you opted not to get insurance, annually.  During this time you should re-examine if the plan choice is still the best fit, as well as rebid your insurance and research new coverage options.

Pet insurance decisions are personal and unique.  And you deserve to be congratulated for your efforts.  Your research has certainly paid off, no matter what becomes your ultimate decision.  Being an educated pet parent is an important part of caring for your pet.