Does Your Pet Need Pet Insurance?

Happy National Dog Day! Whether you have it or are considering investing in pet insurance, BBB recommends shopping around and knowing what your plan includes. When choosing a pet insurance policy, consider the following tips.

Shop Around.  Ask friends, family members, and other fellow pet owners to suggest a pet insurance provider. Ask if your veterinarian recommends a certain pet insurance agency. Your pet insurance provider should be registered with the state. Check out businesses at to read reviews or complaints. Be sure to ask how long the pet insurance provider has been doing business in the U.S. and the rating of their underwriter. Make sure you are able to visit a licensed vet that is convenient for you. Insurance policies should not restrict where you are able to bring your pet for treatment.

Know What is Included.  Make sure to discuss with the business exactly what is and isn’t covered by the insurance plan. If your animal’s breed is prone to genetic conditions, be sure to choose a plan that provides proper coverage for your pet. Policies should include wellness care such as check-up exams, vaccinations, flea control, teeth cleaning, and heartworm protection. Ask if the policy covers prescription medicine, illnesses, and chronic conditions such as diabetes or cancer.

Ask if the Plan Uses a Benefit Schedule.   A benefit schedule lists the maximum amount the policy will cover for each diagnoses. Look for a policy that will reimburse you based on a percentage of the treatment cost rather than a fixed cost. In certain areas where veterinary expenses are high, the benefit schedule only covers a restricted amount of the cost and requires you to pay more money out of pocket.

Ask About Pre-existing Condition Coverage.  Usually pet insurance policies are not responsible for covering pre-existing conditions. Ask if the plan excludes all pre-existing conditions or only “incurable” conditions. You may be able to receive partial coverage for a “curable” condition. To be on the safe side, veterinarians recommend to get pet insurance while your pet is still young because there will be less pre-existing conditions to handle.

Compare Costs.  Compare coverage, deductibles, co-pays, and caps between different insurance policies. Find out how much the policy will cost each month. Ask the insurance provider if they offer a deal for covering more than one pet. Ask if the cost increases each time a claim is filed or when your pet turns another year older.

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About Kelsey Owen

Kelsey Owen is the Director of Communications and Public Affairs for the Better Business Bureau serving Metro Washington DC and Eastern PA (@BBB_DCPA). Prior to December 2014, Kelsey was the Communications and Marketing Coordinator for the Council of Better Business Bureaus based out of Arlington, VA. Kelsey graduated from Denison University with a degree in economics and communication and holds a master's degree in media entrepreneurship from American University.