The DogGear experts have researched and reviewed the best insurance for dogs. Never be afraid to take your puppy or adult dog to the emergency vet again. Help keep your dog healthy and protected by purchasing an insurance policy. Read on to learn more about dog insurance, how to choose it, and our favorite options. Here are some of the best dog insurances in 2021.
Finding the right insurance is tough. We have created a number of resources to help you navigate this difficult and sometimes confusing space. If you have had a good experience with a different insurance provider, please let us know. We are always looking for the top dog insurance and want your feedback on this subject in particular.
Not Sure About Insurance For Your Dog?
Keep reading to find out more about pet insurance and how to decide if it’s a good option for you.
Put simply, Dog Insurance is health insurance for dogs.
We all love our dog, and most of us would do anything for them. But that intention can be seriously tested if a dog or cat winds up needing an operation on a joint that is going to cost thousands of dollars.
This can leave you in a serious pickle. Do you fork out thousands of dollars to fix your dog’s dodgy knee, thereby getting yourself into serious debt and maybe damaging the quality of life for your family and children? Or do you put off paying for the operation and watch your dog limp around in pain? Worse, they may even have to be put down!
The idea behind pet insurance then is that you insure yourself against this eventuality. By paying a $10-$60 premium each month, you will be covered for a broad range of different outcomes so that you won’t have to choose between financial stability and your pet’s happiness. Should anything happen to your dog, you will pay a small excess, and the rest will be covered by your policy.
While this all great in theory, the quality of policies of course varies greatly and the type of insurance you get will affect what you are covered for and the maximum available pay-out.
In this post, we will take a look at the different types of pet coverage, and which one might be right for you and your dog.
TYPES OF PET INSURANCE
An accident plan is a type of pet insurance that will cover you for a specific percentage of your costs. The reason it is called an “accident plan” is that it will only cover accidents. If your dog should fall down the stairs and need a hip replacement, then you’ll be covered. But if Fido just needs a hip replacement because he’s old, then he may not be covered. With these kinds of policies, it’s very important to read the fine print and find out precisely what is and isn’t included. This is the most basic form of insurance for pet owners.
Comprehensive plans are plans that work in the same way – paying out a set percentage of your costs. The difference is that they cover a whole lot more than just accidents. This one is good for emergency operations, for illnesses, and for accidents. In those ways, comprehensive coverage is the safer and more extensive option for most families.
A lot of companies also offer a membership plan. This is different from insurance and is more closely tied to a specific vet. Very often the plan is offered through the practice itself, and will cover you in the same way as pet insurance—as long as you use their services. It might also be possible to buy a membership plan for a local vet through a pet insurance company.
This is a good option if you only use a specific vet as you will likely get it for less. However, these membership plans will vary in terms of cost and what’s covered, just like any insurance policy. It’s also worth noting that most vets are unable to carry out the full spectrum of possible procedures, so it may prove a little limited in some circumstances.
How Dog Insurance Works
Let’s dig a little deeper into how pet insurance actually works. What will you pay? How is the cost calculated? How much will the payout be?
Let’s start with a little terminology:
An insurance premium is the cost of the insurance—the amount that you pay on a recurring basis. Usually this will be monthly, occasionally it will be annually. Sometimes, the amount you pay will be less if you choose to pay for the whole year upfront.
When you stop paying the premium, the insurance will automatically lapse, meaning it is no longer valid.
A deductible, sometimes called an “excess,” is the amount that you are responsible for. Deductibles can take a number of different forms. Most will use either:
Per Incident Deductibles
This is a set fee that will be deducted off the top of the incident. This will either be calculated as a percentage, or it will be a set fee.
If it’s a set fee, then there is a chance that you’ll pay $100 for any payout. For example, if your dog needs stitches, you’d pay $100 of the $250 overall cost. But at the same time, if your dog needs some kind of surgery, you’ll pay $100 of the $2,000 cost.
Alternatively, this might be calculated as a percentage. In this case, you might pay 10% of whatever the total amount is. This option works out better for you for less expensive procedures, but is worse for costly ones.
An annual deductible is not charged per incident, but rather per year, so long as there has been a single accident. At the same time, if your dog has 3 accidents that year, then you’ll still pay just once for the whole year.
So which type of deductible is better? That ultimately depends on what happens to your dog! Each has pros and cons, and what is more important when comparing policies is the size of the deductible.
If you want to compare, imagine that your dog has a few accidents in a year, then imagine that they have just one. Do the math and see which type of policy would be the most affordable in each scenario.
Note: One more thing to remember is that the lower the deductible, the higher the premium will normally be and vice versa. So, if you only pay a little bit per month, you’ll be required to pay a hefty chunk of the total cost should anything go wrong. But if you pay a large amount of money each month, the total you pay will be much smaller should the worst happen.
Again, the right decision depends on your circumstances, the health of your pet, and the more minute aspects of the policy.
The reimbursement rate is the rate at which expenses get paid. What percentage of the total cost will you be paid?
In cases where the deductible is a percentage, this may not apply. In all other cases, you might have to pay a fixed fee, and then on top of that only receive a 90% reimbursement (meaning that the company only pays for 90% of the total amount). Reimbursement rates can also fall as low as 70%, so this is another very important consideration when calculating your total.
Ultimately then, the amount you receive will usually be calculated like so:
(Total Cost – Deductible) X Reimbursement Rate
So that might mean that for a $3,000 operation, you end up receiving the following:
(3000 – 150) X 90% = $2,565
The amount you pay will be the total cost, minus this number. In this case that would be:
Not nothing, but much better than $3,000! Plus, you can find better rates if you shop around.
Note: Keep in mind that you won’t always receive the full amount right away. Some insurance companies have a fixed schedule for their payouts, while others take their sweet time. Again, this is something to check in the policy, and to read reviews about.
Limits on Payouts
Keep in mind that there are usually some limits as to how much you can get paid out.
These limits can take on different forms:
Maximum Payout Per Body System
This is the largest payout that the company will reimburse for a “body system.” Body systems are digestive systems, nervous systems, etc.
Maximum Payout Based on Schedule of Benefits
This is the maximum based on allowances for specific health issues. For instance, the company might have a particular allowance for asthma and another for arthritis. You should always check this in the policy before signing anything.
Other maximums include:
Maximum per incident
Maximum per year
Maximum lifetime payout
Not every company will have these maximums, and the amounts can vary drastically too. It’s generally a good idea to avoid companies that have a maximum payout per body system policy , or payout based on schedule of benefits. These policies can leave you with zero financial help once you go above a certain amount, rendering the policy somewhat useless.
Shopping around and reading the fine print will help you to compare the terms, costs, and payouts of different companies and policies. With that said, there are still more factors that come into play.
For instance, how good is the company’s communication? Are they loyal to existing customers, or do they have a bad habit of hiking up prices?
Another consideration is your dog. The premium you pay, like any form of insurance, is going to be calculated at least in part in terms of perceived risk. That means that if your dog is very old and has pre-existing conditions, it will cost a lot more to insure them, and it might not even be possible at all.
Different companies and different policies will vary in terms of how welcoming they are of these kinds of issues, so make sure that you shop around and consider all your options. Hopefully this guide will help you to make the best decision possible!
Who Needs Dog Insurance
You might be wondering who pet insurance is for and whether you should get it.
The easiest and most obvious way to answer this question is by saying: pet insurance is for pets. Or for people with pets—considering pets themselves can’t take out policies.
The other question, of course, is whether pet insurance is worth it or not.
HOW TO THINK ABOUT PET INSURANCE
A lot of people will put off getting pet insurance because they think they’ll never need it. If you’ve just gotten a healthy young puppy, chances are that nothing will be wrong with them, right? And by the time your dog is old enough to need a few operations, you’ll still have saved more by not getting the insurance than you will have gotten in pay-outs. Right?
Well, all of this may very well be true. But that still doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get pet insurance. Pet insurance isn’t about what is likely to happen. It is about what could happen. Because while your dog might be completely healthy for the next 10 to 15 years, any dog can be hit by a car. Imagine a scenario where you are very happy with your dog, only for them to be in an accident. You then have to fork out a huge amount of money for their operation, which you simply can’t afford at that time.
If you have bad credit, you might not be able to get a loan. And if you can’t get a loan, then you might have no choice but to let your dog suffer in immense pain. How awful would that be? And, if you can take out a loan, then it is something you could be paying off for years and years.
Even if you can afford any possible costs that your dog’s health might incur down the line, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still take out insurance. After all, why pay more when you could pay less? This is just a smart investment.
The simple fact of pet insurance is that it is for everyone who has a pet. This isn’t just for your sake and your financial security – it’s for your dog’s health and happiness. It is frankly irresponsible not to get pet insurance, in many cases.
By Destin Benoit
Destin has experience working with dogs in the most high stress environments on earth. He currently is a canine handler as a security contractor, helping to keep US diplomats safe in some of the most dangerous regions of the world.