My cat Teddy is currently 4 years old, and he has had pet insurance for two years. Here is everything I’ve learned in the last two years.
Get insurance while your cat is young and healthy
Pet insurance is much cheaper for young cats, since they are less likely to have health issues. If your cat is a little older, pet insurance may be too expensive and not make any sense. Pet insurance does go up in cost every year as your pets age.
The ideal time to start an insurance policy is before your cat has any history of medical problems. Once it becomes a documented issue, it becomes a “pre-existing condition”, meaning that it will be excluded from the pet insurance policy. For some companies, if your pet has been “cured” from this condition and it hasn’t happened again for a year, they will remove this as a pre-existing condition.
Exclusions from pet insurance
Pet insurance is kind of like car insurance – the maintenance costs are not covered and it only covers the unexpected costs. Similarly for pets, anything that is a regular procedure, like annual check ups, neutering or spaying, flea and tick medication, and vaccines, are not covered. Only things like accidents, and unexpected illnesses would be covered.
Shop around and get quotes
Getting a quote online is completely free, so make sure to get quotes from all your options before committing to an insurance company. While you do this, make sure to read the fine print in what is excluded from the policy. Also make sure to compare the monthly cost, deductible, and maximum payout.
Another thing to consider is the payout method. Some companies will allow the vets to submit claims directly, while others will require you to pay out of pocket first, and then claim the reimbursable amount back. Paying out of pocket is a little riskier since the insurance company may reject the claim later (although this hasn’t happened to me yet).
Initial wellness check
When you register for pet insurance, they will usually require a wellness check from a vet to make sure the pet is healthy and document any existing conditions. You will then have to submit this to the insurance company.
Submitting a claim
I have only been with one pet insurance company. For me, I pay for the procedure out of pocket, and then submit a claim. Documents needed are the receipt showing amount paid, and the medical notes from the vet. I have to ask after each vet visit for this to be emailed to me so I can submit it.
After the claim is submitted, it gets reviewed, and then approved and the reimbursed amount paid back to me. This takes 1-2 weeks in my experience.
Monthly payments vs annual payments
I only recently found this out but for my specific pet insurance company, paying monthly includes an installment fee of $4. This meant I was paying $48 a year extra just for paying monthly. I switched to an annual cycle right away. Might want to check with your insurance companies if they are the same.
Maximum payout per year vs per condition
One very important distinction in the maximum payout is if it is per year, or per condition. If it is per year, you can expect to pay the deductible each year before receiving any money back, but once you reach the deductible, everything else is covered (up to the annual maximum).
If it is per condition, you only need to pay the deductible once in their entire lifetime, given that you stay with the same insurance company. However, if your pet has a second illness come up within the same year, you will need to pay the deductible again.
Should I put money aside in a savings account instead?
A common thing for pet parents to do is to put aside $50 or so into a savings account, and use it whenever medical bills arise. This is the most cost effective method, as you may not need to use it at all. However, if something does go wrong, this pool is used up very quickly. Saving up $50 a month for a year is only $600.
According to this website, these are the most expensive procedure costs:
- Foreign Object – $2,955
- Urinary Tract Infection – $1,053
- Broken Bone – $2,257
- Cancer Treatment – $4,000
What is the advantage of pet insurance?
Before I got insurance for my cat Teddy, I would always ask for a quote for the procedure, and then weigh my options if I could pay for it or not. After I got the insurance, I still have to pay the deductible and the co-pay, but I can be much more stress free in ordering procedures for him.
You may not always “win” and save more money than you spend, but the peace of mind in knowing that your pet is covered if anything happens, is what you are paying for. For most people, the monthly cost of $30-60 a month is just another bill, but when an unexpected accident happens, a $5000 bill is much more difficult to handle.
Are adventure cats more likely to get injured?
In my experience, adventure cats have the same risks as an indoor cat, so no, it is not more dangerous for adventure cats. They are always supervised when outdoors so actually the risk is very low. Outdoor free roaming cats have a much higher chance of needing medical care.
Do annual costs increase every year?
Unfortunately yes, in my experience. At some point in the future it may not make sense to insure him any more.
Which insurance is Teddy with?
Teddy is insured with Fetch by The Dodo. We are not sponsored in any way and I don’t recommend this in particular over the other companies – do your own research and see what makes most sense for you!
Our plan currently is $10,000 annual maximum, $300 deductible, 80% reimbursed. The annual premium is $351.