10 Best Ways To Optimize Your Pet Insurance
As a pet parent, you’ve most likely done your research on what type of care is best for your beloved animal. Whether you’re comparing premiums, deductibles or coverage options - it can be overwhelming to understand which provider will be the right fit for your family. And, even after you’ve done the extensive leg work and picked a plan - how exactly will you be able to effectively save money and get the most out of your pet insurance?
As pet insurance gurus, our team here at Fursure knows the ins and outs of how to effectively optimize your pet insurance. We have all the trade secrets, the insider knowledge that can get you the best coverage option for your money.
Let’s take a look at the ten best ways you can optimize and strategize your pet insurance options.
Pet Insurance Overview
Before we jump into the good stuff, we want to give you a quick recap on pet insurance coverage options that you can choose from. We cover the entirety of pet insurance in our article, Everything You Need To Know About Pet Insurance, so if you need an extensive refresher, feel free to give it a read.
Here are the 3 main types of pet insurance plans you can purchase for your pet.
- The accident insurance plan covers incidents such as your pet getting hit by a car, swallowing a foriegn object, breaking a bone, cruciate ligament injuries, eating something toxic, being attacked by another animal and foxtail removal.
- Your coverage will include the exams, x-rays, MRI, ultrasounds, bloodwork, sutures, medications, hospitalization and surgeries to treat the accident.
Accidents & Illnesses
- The illness insurance plan covers sickness such as cancer (which occurs in 40% of dogs and 20% of cats), arthritis, diabetes, allergies, skin conditions, hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, ear infections, digestive problems and urinary tract infections.
- It also covers full congenital and hereditary coverage including breed specific illnesses like hip dysplasia and costs of major and minor illnesses.
Accidents & Illnesses & Wellness
- The wellness insurance plan covers veterinary expenses such as annual exams, flea/tick and heartworm medication, shots/vaccinations, teeth cleaning, spay/neuter.
10 Best Ways To Optimize Your Pet Insurance
Now that you know the coverage plans available, here are some ways to optimize and strategize your pet insurance.
1. Utilize The 30 Day Free Trial
Did you know that there’s a 30 day free trial for all providers that will allow you to test out their program? With such a low barrier to sign up, you can get coverage and quickly get started with covering your pet. Plus, you can always cancel and receive a full refund as long as you don’t submit a claim.
Essentially, you could sign up with all the providers to research and see which one is best for you. Then, just simply cancel the ones you don’t want to use.
2. Purchase Insurance Before Pre-Existing Conditions Develop In Your Pet
One aspect of pet insurance that can be frustrating for owners is the fact that most plans do not cover any pre-existing conditions. And, in most cases, pre-existing conditions can be a hefty financial burden.
For example, if your pet has had symptoms or treatment for their condition in the last 180 day to up to a year, the provider will not cover the cost of treatment in the future. And, some specific conditions are deemed “incurable” by your provider such as knee and ligament injuries or allergies. They will not cover these expenses if it happened prior to your buying your policy.
So, how do you get coverage for pre-existing conditions? You purchase pet insurance right from the start, the same day you bring your new pet home. This way, any conditions that develop over time and as they age will be covered by your insurance provider.
3. Use The Reimbursement Model
Once you purchase your pet insurance, the way you pay your vet bills and procedures will change. Our recommendation for paying any sort of bill when you have insurance is to use the reimbursement model.
For this, you will pay the cost of your bill upfront and then submit your claim to your insurance provider. At Fursure, our pet insurance gurus can help you with this process. We can answer any of your questions and assist with your medical records. We have relationships with certain providers that will allow us to fight on your behalf and get the most coverage for your money.
4. Reimbursement Percentage, Annual Limit & Deductibles
Here are a few quick figures we recommend selecting with your insurance provider. One of our team members can always walk you through this process when you’re setting up your coverage plan.
- For reimbursement percentage (copays), we recommend choosing 80-90%.
- As for your annual limit, your choices are $5,000, $10,000, $15,000 or unlimited - we recommend $10,000 or more
- And, for the deductible you have the choice between annual or per-incident
- We recommend selecting annual with a range of $100-$1000
- $250-300-500 is the most popular choice and we would recommend that for most of our customers
- Yet, if you want to go for a strategy of having a high deductible, but a low monthly premium - you could select $1000. You would just need to ensure that you feel comfortable pay that much out of pocket in the event of a catastrophic bill
5. You Can Always Downgrade Your Plan
When you’re starting off, you want to go with the highest reimbursement percentage, annual max and lowest deductible that you can afford. In order to determine the premium that you feel comfortable paying, you’ll have the tradeoff between deductibles and copays.
In short, you can always downgrade your plan, but not upgrade. For example, you can increase your deductible, but keep your same policy.
Yet, it’s important to note that if you want to upgrade your plan and increase your annual max, your provider will refresh your policy. So, anything that happened prior will become a pre-existing condition and you’ll be locked into your premium.
Therefore, we recommend starting off with a higher plan, see how much you can afford and if needed, scale down the ladder to find an option that works for you.
6. Exam Fees Are Not Always Covered
Depending on the provider some exam fees may or may not be covered. In some cases, a provider may offer this as an add-on to your plan.
Therefore, if you want pet insurance that covers exam fees - look for one that offers this as part of their main plan or as an add-on.
7. Waiting Periods Vary For Claims
In general there are several waiting periods depending on the claim you file, such as:
- 2-3 days for accidents
- 14 days for illnesses (skin disease, irritation, allergies)
- 6 months to up to a year for major ACL tear/cruciate tears
This is set to avoid fraud in the industry, where something happens and you try to get insurance the next day. Here at Fursure we can help you eliminate some of this waiting stress. For the 6 month to a year waiting period on ortho, we can work with your provider, send your medical records, set up an exam and get this waived.”
8. Cost of Your Insurance
The cost of your insurance will have several factors, but here are a few that are often overlooked by pet owners.
- The cost each month is based on the age of your dog or cat, zip code (standard of living and vet hospitals) and the breed you have.
- Prices are not locked in, therefore they will increase over time. This is due to increasing vet costs in the industry as well as the age of your dog or cat. You can expect a small premium increase per year.
- Yet, prices won’t increase based on submitting claims to get reimbursed
- There is an industry refresh every year, so you can file as many claims as you want.
9. Wellness Is Often Better To Pay Out Of Pocket
For the insurance providers that offer a wellness add-on, wellness plans can cost an additional $12-26 per month on top of your base Accident & Illness plan. They operate like an FSA/HSA, and often have line-item caps. For example, $30-40 for the year for vaccinations/shots, and often $0 or max $150 coverage for spay or neuter.
If you take full advantage of all the items, you can typically save anywhere between $30-50 per year. But more often than not, the caps don't cover the full amount of these costs, and most people don't end up fully utilizing the wellness benefit. When you do the math, it may be financially worth it to pay for these costs out of pocket, as they don't typically go beyond the hundreds of dollars range.
Note that wellness plans usually lock you in for a year, and have no impact on your deductible. Unlike wellness, you can cancel your insurance plan at any time and get your money back.
For full transparency, our team at Fursure has yet to find a great wellness plan that makes financial sense to buy for most people. While we continue to look and find options for our customers, it's important to note that as pet parents ourselves, we pay for our dogs' wellness costs out of pocket."
10. Keep a Clean Medical Record
The final way for you to optimize your pet insurance is to do your best to keep a clean medical record. In doing so, you’re less likely to have the insurance company fight you if a dispute were to arise. Make sure to have any issues marked as resolved, so that you have a strong case for any type of claim made with your provider.
So, there you have it - the 10 best ways you can optimize your pet insurance and strategize for the best and most affordable coverage possible.
At Fursure, we help pet parents across the country find the best insurance provider for their furry friends. By utilizing our expertise, you will have access to:
- Real policies before you buy
- Need to know gotchas in pet insurance
- Fresh content on preventive care best practices
We’re here to give you the confidence you need to make the right choice for your pet. To learn more about which pet insurance plan is right for you, schedule a free consultation call with us by signing up here.