From accidents to various doggie health issues that may arise in their lifetime, pet insurance can act as a safety net for pet parents if the unexpected happens. However, as is the case with insurance for humans, there are many plans to choose from, and finding the most suitable option can be a difficult task if you are unsure of the pet insurance landscape.

Determining what works best for your pup, as well as your family’s lifestyle, is key. To help you navigate, we have outlined some of the top components of pet insurance that you should know before deciding on a plan.

DIFFERENT TYPES OF PET INSURANCE

While there can be some modifications between pet insurance companies, plans typically fall into two categories – accident-only and accident-illness.

Accident-only plans cover accidents that your pup might get into that cause an injury and require care. This can include a broken bone, swallowing an object, a cut or wound, etc. As a result, pet insurance can cover the associated treatment costs for the injury, such as an emergency vet visit, X-rays, bloodwork, medications, surgery, and so on. Opting for this plan means no other pup-related costs are covered other than what is directly associated with the accident.

Accident-illness plans, which can also be called comprehensive coverage, cover everything listed in an accident-only plan, with the addition of illnesses or infections. This means if your pup develops a health concern or catches a virus, the related costs to test and treat them are covered. This type of plan can also cover chronic illness and hereditary health issues but may have some additional requirements, depending on the condition.

WHAT PET INSURANCE DOES NOT COVER

One of the most important things to remember about pet insurance is that it will only cover the costs of accidents, illnesses or medical issues that occur after the insurance comes into effect. That means if your dog has a pre-existing health issue that was diagnosed prior obtaining the insurance plan and it requires treatment, pet insurance will not cover those costs.

You will also not likely find basic pet insurance plans that cover vet checkups or wellness visits, spaying/neutering, vaccinations or other types of preventative care. But, continue reading to learn about insurance add-ons.

INSURANCE ADD-ONS (AKA RIDERS)

Anything you add to your pet insurance plan is called a rider. These paid additions can help fill in the gaps of your original coverage for things you think your pup might need or that you want to be covered for, just in case. For example, dental treatment is a common rider, as you will not usually find this type of treatment in an original insurance plan. You can also find riders that cover annual vet checkups, wellness-related services, treatments and some preventative medications that are not already covered in a plan (i.e., for ticks, mites, and fleas).

FACTORS THAT CAN IMPACT PET INSURANCE COSTS

This will largely depend on the insurance company, but there are some pet insurance plans that specifically state certain limitations depending on the breed of dog. For example, if your pup is a breed which is known for certain health concerns, some pet insurance companies will charge a higher premium simply for this reason. There are also some plans that exclude certain breeds altogether.

Another factor that could impact insurance rates is the age of your dog. The older they are, the greater the likelihood they will need more treatments or can be prone to illnesses, thus requiring you to pay more of a premium, which can increase each year. As well, some pet insurance plans do not accept dogs after a certain age, which is why it is always recommended to get pet insurance as early as possible for your pup.

You may also find that the size of your dog can raise your premium (larger dogs are often more expensive), where you live can also impact your rates and coinsurance may play a role. Coinsurance is the percentage you are required to pay, not including the deductible, after your insurance plan reimburses part of your costs. For example, if your insurance covers 70% of the treatment, you are required to pay the remaining 30%. This can play a role in how much you are required to pay as a premium.

PET INSURANCE PLANS HAVE DEDUCTIBLES

A deductible is what you are required to pay prior to the insurance kicking in. Depending on the pet insurance company, you may need to pay a larger amount for your pup’s accident or illness care/treatment before the insurance coverage can come into effect.

Paying a higher deductible can translate to a lower premium, which can help if you are looking to keep costs low month to month. Pet insurance deductibles can range in cost and land anywhere from $100 to $1000. This is why it is important to do your research and compare pet insurance companies to find one that best aligns with your budget. While a $0 deductible may seem like a great choice, as it means coverage can begin immediately, your monthly premium could be very high.

It is important to note that a deductible is an amount that you are required to meet before you receive coverage from your insurance, and this will often renew yearly. This means if you pay for an emergency treatment that is $300, and your required deductible is $300, you will not have to pay any more of your deductible after that point, as you have already met the requirements. This differs from the balance you are required to pay afterthe insurance coverage goes into effect, as your insurance will likely not cover 100% of the costs, and you will be required to pay the remaining out of pocket.

A WAITING PERIOD

Some pet insurance companies have a waiting period in place before coverage can begin. Be sure to carefully read this part of your policy, as you may be waiting around longer than anticipated for coverage, even if you already have met your deductible. It is always best to find a plan that offers little to no waiting period, especially if your dog is getting older or you happen to have a larger breed who may be more susceptible to health concerns down the line.

FINDING THE RIGHT PET INSURANCE FOR YOU AND YOUR PUP

You can never expect the unexpected, which makes opting for pet insurance a great, and often necessary choice for your pup. Discovering a plan that works best for your budget while also offering the right amount of coverage is key, so don’t be hesitant to customize a plan that checks all your boxes. With different coverage tiers and riders available to add to your plan, you can personalize one that works for you and your beloved furry family member.

Dogtopia has worked with petted.com to create a handy comparison tool that can help you choose the right pet insurance plan for you and your pup. Click here and answer a few questions, and you will be directed to the best plan for you in seconds.