Do you know what you are signing up for? Do you know what you are covered for and more importantly, what you are not? We give you an expert opinion on how to buy right when it comes to quality pet cover.
As with any insurance contract, there are things you need to know and take into consideration before you sign on the dotted line. Of course, understanding the complicated terms and legal lingo can prove tricky.
When a pet insurance policy works the way you want it to, it can and will take the stress and pain away from vet bills, allowing you to focus on giving your pet the medical care and attention they need and deserve. However, buying a plan without understanding the terms and conditions of the cover can cost you.
Pet insurance plans will vary in their coverage and what their benefits include. The trick is to look past the cute pictures of cats and adorable dog photos insurers use to try and lure you in and dive deep into the details of the fine print.
We’ll give you 6 things to keep in mind before making a final decision.
1. The rules of enrollment
First thing first, if your pet is young and in good health, then you can most likely enroll for any plan of your choice. But if your pet is older and perhaps has a pre-existing condition, then the pickings are slim.
Most insurers will have a maximum age limit (this is typically 9 years old). Of course, there are a few who have no maximum age limit. Oneplan’s Accident Plan does not have an age limit.
Then there is the case of pre-existing conditions. Some insurers will not cover health conditions that exist before the inception of your policy. However, there are some insurers, like Oneplan, who will cover these health conditions after a certain waiting period.
Read: Can I get pet insurance if my pet has a pre-existing condition?
2. The types of incidents that are covered
This is when you really need to go through your policy with a fine-tooth comb. Some insurers only cover accidents and unexpected vet bills, others might include vet visits and other day-to-day costs such as scripted medication.
Once you know the basis of what you are covered for, you then need to dig a little deeper into what exactly this cover includes. For example, you might be covered for illnesses but if the event is related to unplanned pregnancy, for example, then most insurers will not cover this as they encourage sterilisations and exclude costs related to pet pregnancy.
Knowing what you are NOT covered for will help prevent any disappointment or unexpected out-of-pocket expenses.
3. How much money your insurer pays out
An important term you need to understand in your contract is a ‘limit’. A limit is the maximum amount your insurer will pay during a claim. Meaning this is a capped amount outlined in your policy. Most limits work on a 12-month cycle, meaning your benefit’s limit will renew every year (or rather, 12 months from the inception date of your policy).
Read: What Does Dog Insurance Cost?
Aside from pre-existing conditions, some plans will exclude cover for certain events. I briefly mentioned how most insurers will not cover pregnancy-related claims, other exclusions typically include:
- Behavioural therapy
- Cosmetic procedures
- Costs that incur due to your negligence of your pet’s medical or healthcare needs
5. Waiting periods
Pet insurance plans will have different waiting periods for certain benefits. A waiting period is a specified period of time that has to pass before you can claim for vet bills relating to a certain event.
Oneplan Pet Insurance, one of the few insurers who cover pre-existing conditions, has a waiting period of 12 months for pre-existing health concerns.
Accident cover is typically immediate. Other claim events such as vet visits and illnesses have their own waiting periods.
It’s important that you know exactly how long you have to wait until you can claim for certain events.
6. Day-to-day cover
Most people will take out a pet insurance policy to help them cover the expensive bills associated with accidents and illnesses. All it takes is one accident for you to realise just how much veterinary care costs to save your pet’s life, never mind the treatment costs of ongoing chronic issues such as cancer or diabetes.
But some insurers also include cover for vet visits and routine care as well as accidents and illnesses. Oneplan even includes cover for kennel fees should anything happen to you that results in you being unable to look after your pet.
The final word
The point of the matter is that no pet insurance plan should be chosen without you putting in the time and effort needed to make an educated decision. Never base your decisions on assumptions. You want to choose an insurer that provides you with quality cover, at an affordable fee.
Until next time,
The petinsurance.co.za Team