Insurance help  

moonprincess
Originally Answered: Insurance help

Hello, 

 

I am a first time cat owner of about 3 months now to a really cute 1 year old cat named Yue. I got her as an emotional support animal and she has really helped me cope with my mental illnesses and difficult situations. 

I am trying to get her on insurance, but it is a bit hard as I am a student with two part time jobs. Furthermore, I have never bought (tried out?) insurance ever before, so I’m not sure what to look for. Please help! 


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Dr. Joanna Woodnutt, MRCVS
Originally Answered: Insurance help

Hi @moonprincess

Getting Yue insured is definitely a good idea- it'll give you peace of mind that you can do the best for her no matter what.

We can't recommend specific companies, but I can give you some things to think about, generally:

- Look for a policy that covers 'the condition for life' not 'the pet for life'. You'll need to find wording that says they'll pay for diseases like diabetes or allergies year after year (assuming you carry on paying your premiums, without a break, of course!)

- Don't get accident only cover unless it's truly all you can afford. Illnesses quickly add up to just as much as an injury and there's nothing more frustrating for a vet than an owner who has to skip diagnostics and treatment options for financial reasons!

- Look for a policy that pays out at least £4000/year. To give you an idea, an MRI costs around £2000-£3500, a broken leg £1500+ so you'll need this much should the worst happen. There are some policies out there that pay so little they're rubbish!

- Read the small print. Look for restrictions on the Out Of Hours fees, boarding fees, imaging fees etc. A limit of £12000 isn't worth much if you can't spend it out of hours, or on getting the MRI you want because they cap the imaging costs at £300 (yes, this is a real policy that's out there!)

- If it's too good to be true, it probably is - check the small print again

You can also talk to your vets. Some will have preferred insurance partners where they'll deal directly with the insurer so you aren't temporarily out of pocket whilst waiting for the insurance to pay. This is not only helpful, its a good indication of the insurers your vet trusts to pay out.

You should also check your cat's record carefully for mention of disease. For instance, a mention of ear mites as a kitten might mean the insurance company won't cover ear disease. A limp at 6 months old might mean they won't insure that leg. You can request a copy of your cat's medical records for this purpose!

Do not swap insurance companies or have a break in premiums once you've taken it out - unless your cat has had no symptoms of illness in between. The new insurance company will consider anything that happened whilst you were with the old one, or inbetween, a 'pre-existing condition'

 

I hope that helps, but I'll check back in in case you have any further questions!

 

Dr Joanna Woodnutt MRCVS

Veterinary Surgeon


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Dr. Chris Vanderhoof, DVM, MPH
Originally Answered: Insurance help

Hi There, apologies, I replied a couple days ago, but a glitch put it in the wrong thread! You truly do have a cute kitty, thanks for including a picture! 

Here's what I originally posted for you, with my perspective on pet insurance.

Pet insurance can be a little tough to navigate, just like human insurance can be. It's definitely a smart choice to look for a plan while your kitty is young and before any more serious or recurrent diseases develop. While I can't tell you exactly what company or plan to go with, I can give you some of the same general guidance I provide to some of my own pet parents.

You have a really young kitty, so hopefully, if Yue has been really healthy, you don't have to worry about pre-existing conditions. For other folks out there, if you have an older pet, you need to carefully read what a company's policy is regarding pre-existing conditions. Some will provide coverage, while others will not.

Also, having a young pet, it can be a reasonable strategy to go for a plan with a lower monthly premium, or monthly payment, but a higher deductible, which is the amount of money you have to pay out of pocket for your kitty before the plan starts to cover expenses. The hope is, for a much younger pet, you might have the odd emergency, like if Yue eats something off the counter and develops some vomiting, but you won't be seeing constant, recurrent issues like older pets face. If you're fortunate, you may not have any emergencies or illnesses to deal with at all, meaning you just have a lower monthly payment to deal with.

With older pets, where you're going to the vet far more often, it can make more sense to go with a higher premium but to keep the deductible lower, since the company will start paying sooner, and remove some of the out of pocket expense for those more frequent visits.

Most companies have flexible choices for monthly premiums anywhere from $5 up to over $100. There are also different choices for deductibles available. So the good thing is that you should be able to find a plan that fits your budget.

Another thing to keep an eye out for is the inclusion of wellness plans. Not all companies have the option to include a wellness plan. However, I also look at wellness items as expenses that can be planned for. If you know what your vet's office charges for the typical annual kitty wellness items like an office fee, rabies and fvrcp vaccines (and FelV if your kitty has exposure to the outdoors or interacts with outdoor cats), a fecal, +/- annual labwork, and flea/tick/heartworm preventatives, you can budget for those expenses. So, not having a wellness plan is not necessarily a deal-breaker in my book, but it depends on what you want and what you're prepared for.

What really gets a lot of folks is the unexpected expenses, like a sudden injury/illness, and that's really what I think insurance is good for. Most plans are based on reimbursement only, so you still need to have some money saved up and set aside for vet expenses, but many plans can reimburse you for up to 90% of expenses. Just don't wait for an emergency to happen before getting insurance--many plans also have a waiting period on emergency expenses. And Dr. Woodnutt is also correct, make sure to see if the company distinguishes accident from illness or if they're lumped together, as illnesses are much more common.

Lastly, I can share with you some of the companies/plans that I see more of my own clients/pet parents have. I can't speak as much to why they were chosen, but they pass my desk for approval more often (I also have no affiliation with any of these companies, it's all objective). These companies include Embrace, PetPlan, Nationwide, and 24PetWatch, in no particular order.

Doing a quick Google search for cat insurance plans, and skipping all of the sponsored listings, can get you to some (hopefully) unbiased comparisons of pet insurance plans for cats that can help you see what individual plans offer. 

Hopefully that's helpful to you. 


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