What Pet Medical Insurance Covers

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When an animal becomes ill or injured, getting the best medical care is a top priority. Since veterinary care is often expensive, you may want to consider the financial assistance offered by a pet medical insurance plan. But while pet medical insurance covers a wide range of health conditions, there are a few expenses that some insurers simply won’t pay.

To make sure there are no surprises when you visit the vet and submit a claim, here’s a breakdown of what pet medical insurance covers (and doesn’t).

What Pet Insurance Covers

Pet insurance policies are types of medical plans that reimburse you for a portion of your pet’s veterinary costs. The most comprehensive plans cover the treatment of accidents and illnesses of a pet.

Related: Compare pet insurance quotes

SoMy expenses typically covered by pet insurance include:

  • Injuries and accidents such as broken bones or ingesting toxins
  • Hereditary or breed-specific conditions such as intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) and blood disorders.
  • Chronic diseases such as diabetes or seizures
  • Orthopedic conditions such as osteosarcoma or ligament lacerations
  • Behavioral and alternative therapies such as acupuncture or treatment of behavioral issues such as marking or aggression
  • Dental diseases such as gingivitis and tooth extractions
  • Emergency care such as hospitalization in a veterinary clinic
  • Tests and diagnostics such as biopsies and x-rays
  • Procedures such as surgeries or rehabilitation

Some pet insurance companies also offer top-ups for preventive and routine care. By adding a Routine Wellness Plan, you can receive reimbursement for the annual wellness visit to the vet and costs such as heartworm and flea protection and vaccinations.

You can reduce pet insurance costs by purchasing an accident-only plan, but the majority of pet plans sold cover accidents and illnesses.

Related: Compare pet insurance quotes

What Pet Insurance Does Not Cover

Although pet insurance policies can cover a wide range of expenses related to accidents, illnesses, and preventative care, there are some things they typically don’t cover.

Pre-existing conditions

All pet insurance providers exclude pre-existing conditions from coverage. A pre-existing condition is when your pet has an injury or illness before coverage begins. Insurers can even deny coverage if the animal has not been officially diagnosed with a condition but has shown signs or symptoms of the problem (such as a lameness).

Some insurers will cover what they consider to be “curable” pre-existing conditions. For example, if your dog has had a respiratory infection but has not received treatment related to this disease in the last year, your insurer may cover the costs of new infections.

Elective procedures

Pet insurers generally do not cover the costs of elective procedures such as feline declawing, ear trimming, nail trimming, and grooming.

Non-veterinary expenses

The plans generally don’t cover anything that isn’t a veterinary cost. Some of these costs include transportation costs, waste disposal, taxes, and pet registration or copying fees.

Holistic treatment or experimental therapy

Pet insurance generally does not cover treatments or diagnostics deemed experimental. In other words, veterinary treatments that aren’t accepted by your state’s veterinary board probably aren’t covered.

Food costs

Expenses related to the animal’s food needs are generally not covered by insurance. Some plans will cover prescription pet food.

Behavioral training

Training such as basic obedience training may not be covered by a pet insurance policy. It is important to check your policy for exclusions so that you are not taken by surprise if a claim is denied.

Look under the hood

Pet insurance plan coverage often varies from insurer to insurer. This can make comparison shopping difficult. You may see a great monthly price for a pet insurance plan, but under the hood, it could be missing some valuable benefits. The best pet insurance policies combine solid benefits with a competitive price.

While these types of coverage may be harder to find, keep an eye out for them in better pet insurance plans.

  • Payment of veterinary examination costs: Although the treatment may be covered, not all plans cover the actual veterinary costs for the visit
  • Behavioral therapy: This could include treatment for compulsive behaviors such as repetitive tail chasing or excessive grooming.
  • Alternative therapy: This could include acupuncture, hydrotherapy and chiropractic care.
  • Stem Cell Treatment: This could be used, for example, on a dog with arthritis or hip dysplasia that has not been helped by conventional treatment.
  • End of life costs: Like euthanasia, burial or cremation.

Also make sure your pet package includes access to a 24/7 veterinary chat line. This will be invaluable for unexpected late night issues.

Some pet insurance plans include benefits such as advertising fees for a lost pet and boarding fees if you need to be hospitalized and your pet has nowhere to go. While these types of coverage shouldn’t be your decision makers when buying a plan, they can come in handy when you need them.

Related: Compare pet insurance quotes

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