This is it. This is the year you’re going to enroll in pet insurance and put your mind at ease that your pets will be as protected as they can be. It is not surprising that you’re ready to go the extra mile for your pet’s health, because pet insurance has steadily grown as an industry year-over-year, becoming a common household expense.
So, whether you’ve just adopted a new puppy or you’re looking for coverage for a long-time furry friend, we’ve got the answers to any lingering questions you might have about the value of pet insurance coverage for dogs and cats.
The History of Pet Insurance
Pet insurance may seem like a relatively new phenomenon, but it has been around since the late 19th century. In 1890, Swedish businessman Claes Virgin created an insurance plan for livestock and horses, which was more akin to farm insurance than the pet insurance we know today. 34 years later, health coverage for pets was introduced in Sweden, and it became so popular that it made its way to England in 1947.
Pet insurance didn’t make it to the United States for another 100 years. In 1987, T.V.’s Lassie was the first dog to be insured in the U.S. The plan was created by veterinarian Jack Stephens to address his concerns with pet owners’ inability to pay for expensive medical care. Dr. Stephens’ sentiment about providing coverage so pet owners can afford the best care for their pets is what drives the modern pet insurance industry.
The North American Pet Health Insurance Association estimates that more than 3.45 million pets were insured in the U.S. and Canada in 2021. The rate of coverage is growing year over year, and NAPHIA estimates a 24% average growth in insured pets on a yearly basis.
As the cost of living continues to rise and pet medical expenses increase, it is no wonder that we are seeing such growth in the pet insurance industry. Pet insurance coverage offers pet owners the peace of mind that they’ll have assistance with pet care costs in the event of an emergency.
What Is Pet Insurance?
If you’ve never heard of it, the concept of pet insurance may seem foreign. But, to put it simply, pet insurance is insurance coverage for pets that may cover their health and wellness fees. The pet owner pays their insurance provider a monthly or annual premium for coverage, and they are reimbursed for eligible pet medical expenses during their coverage term.
Much like other types of insurance, pet insurance plans have annual deductibles, co-insurance, and even annual coverage limits that vary from provider to provider and plan to plan. Most pet insurance providers, including AKC Pet Insurance (underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company), operate on a reimbursement basis, so unlike other types of insurance, you don’t have in- and out-of-network providers. You simply pay your vet and include an itemized receipt with your insurance claim.
How Does Pet Insurance Work?
The functions of pet insurance will vary by the provider and type of coverage you select. Most claims are submitted by you after treatment, so you pay your vet directly and get reimbursement for eligible expenses. AKC Pet Insurance operates under this model to avoid the need for a provider network. This allows our customers to keep their current vet and ensures their coverage is available for services provided by any licensed vet in the U.S. or Canada. This system also allows us to provide coverage for specialist and emergency vet visits under the same plan.
Why Pet Insurance Is Necessary
With two-thirds of American households owning a pet, the need for pet medical care is something most people experience. Additionally, Americans are spending more on their pets than they have in the past, totaling $125 billion in 2021. Their number one pet expense? Pet medical care. Pet insurance helps to ease the burden of those expenses and provides coverage options for both emergency and non-emergency pet medical needs.
Factors to Consider Before Buying Pet Insurance
When selecting a pet insurance plan, you should do some research on the plans available and select coverage that best suits your pet. A young puppy will need different coverage than an older cat, so do your due diligence to find the provider and plan that fits all the pets in your home.
What Coverage Options Are Available with Pet Insurance?
The first question you need to ask is the most important: what does this pet insurance plan cover? Before you begin your research, try to brainstorm what you hope to get coverage on based on your pet’s medical needs. Make a list of must-have coverage that is non-negotiable to you, and then make a second list of items that are important, but non-essential.
AKC Pet Insurance understands that no two pets have the same needs, and two pets in one household may even have different medical needs. So, you can build on your coverage from a base Accident and Illness plan through optional add-ons.
Once you compare policy options from insurance providers, you have a jumping-off point before you even start to worry about things like premiums, co-insurance, and deductibles.
How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost?
The second most important factor in your research is cost. Once you know how much coverage you need, you can focus on the providers that fit your list. The actual premium fees are determined by several factors, including type of animal, breed, age, location, and gender. You’ll need to supply this information to the insurance providers on your list and get a quote to learn more about pricing options.
AKC Pet Insurance offers flexible coverage and payment options, so you can set up a price point you’re comfortable with. In addition to the optional add-ons like Wellness Coverage, Hereditary Coverage, and Exam Coverage, you can customize your payment options, deductibles, annual limits, and coinsurance to get the exact coverage you need at a price you can afford.
How to Lower Your Pet Insurance Costs
Once you’ve decided on the coverage options you need and the amount you’re willing to spend, start looking into your top providers to see who will offer the best discounts and extras. Many insurance providers offer discounts on their services, or additional features beyond just coverage to give you more bang for your buck. For example, AKC Pet Insurance offers a multi-pet discount1, so if you need coverage for more than one animal, you automatically get a discount on your premiums.
AKC Pet Insurance also offers 24/7 vet support via phone and chat with the 24/7 Vet Helpline service. This service is included in Accident and Illness plans at no additional cost, and gives you access to telehealth services from veterinary professionals any time of day or night.
1 Not available in all states. New and current policyholders may receive a 5% multi-pet discount if they get coverage for more than one pet or add an additional pet to an existing policy.
Is There Coverage for Pre-Existing Conditions?
Not all pet insurance providers offer coverage for pre-existing conditions. This could lead to a major expense down the road if you aren’t prepared.
If your pet has a condition that requires medical attention, you’ll want to ensure this condition is covered before committing to an insurance plan. This is especially important if you are switching pet insurance providers, so before you cancel your old plan, make sure your pet’s pre-existing medical issues will be covered under your new plan.
AKC Pet Insurance offers the industry’s best pre-existing condition coverage2. The Accident and Illness plan covers curable and incurable conditions after 365 days of continuous coverage.
2 Not available in all states.
Are There Enrollment Fees for Pet Insurance?
When you enroll in pet insurance, investigate your potential provider’s enrollment fees. Some pet insurance providers will charge set up or enrollment fees at sign up. Others may require a vet exam before you even enroll, and those costs would be forwarded to you.
AKC Pet Insurance has no enrollment fees, so there’s no upfront cost to sign up. Additionally, you don’t need a veterinary exam prior to enrolling in AKC Pet Insurance to receive the full coverage benefits available with your chosen plan, although the pre-existing condition exclusion and some waiting periods still apply.
Is It Difficult to File a Pet Insurance Claim?
Once you’re enrolled with a pet insurance provider is not the time to discover that their claims process is difficult to navigate. Instead, find a provider that has multiple options for filing claims and can easily explain the process to you. If they can’t describe it in simple terms, it’s probably not simple.
AKC Pet Insurance keeps the claims process as easy and stress-free as possible. Filing a claim is as simple as 1-2-3:
- Pay your vet after your visit and get an itemized receipt.
- Submit your claim online via the customer portal or by email, fax, or mail.
- Get reimbursed for all eligible expenses by check or direct deposit into your bank account.
Does Pet Insurance Offer Good Customer Service?
Insurance companies are not widely known for their customer service, but at AKC Pet Insurance, we believe that customer service is just as important as the coverage we provide. We understand that when you need to use your plan it’s probably because you’re in the midst of a stressful situation. Our customer care team understands that and does everything they can to ease your stress. Check out some of the awesome reviews our customers have given our team.
Does Pet Insurance Really Cover What It Says It Will?
This is one of the biggest pet insurance myths out there. Fact is that some insurance providers may have hidden rules or strings attached to their coverage that reduce or eliminate payouts when it’s time for reimbursement. AKC Pet Insurance is not like that. Our claims process is simple, and all reimbursements come with an explanation of the coverage applied. Plus, our customer service and claims teams are always happy to review your case and options at any point.
Don’t let enrolling in pet insurance stress you out. After all, it is a service that is supposed to provide you with peace of mind for your pets and budget. With a little research into the costs and coverage of your preferred pet insurance providers, you will find a plan that meets all of your needs.
AKC Pet Insurance is proud to provide that peace of mind to our customers. Get a quote today and build the coverage you need at a great price.