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Purchasing Pet Insurance

What questions to ask when buying a pet insurance policy

By

Laura Bennett FSA CFA, CEO and co-founder of Embrace Pet Insurance

Laura Bennett FSA CFA, CEO and co-founder of Embrace Pet Insurance

Guest Author Laura Bennett FSA CFA has answered questions about buying pet insurance and offered some pet insurance Nuts and Bolts for those considering buying a policy for their pet(s).

Now she is back with some questions for you. Laura has prepared several questions about the policy and the company selected to ensure the best coverage for your pet's needs.

From Laura Bennett:
So you've decided to take the plunge and buy a pet insurance policy - but which one?

When comparing different policies, here's a quick rundown of the policy features that have the biggest impact on your claim experience. Keep in mind, you'll likely pay more for a policy that covers more but your payouts will be higher on average.

  • Does the policy cover hereditary conditions? Even mixed breed dogs get conditions such as hip dysplasia and portosystemic shunts, both hereditary. If your policy doesn't cover hereditary conditions, is there a list of what's not covered so you will know in advance what is or isn't covered?
  • Does the policy cover chronic conditions that continue from one year to the next? If not, when does coverage get cut off - at renewal or after a year of start of health condition?
  • What is the claim payment based on - the vet bill you paid, a benefit schedule, or usual, customary & reasonable charges for your region? Ask for some examples of payouts and compare to what your vet would typically charge.
  • Does the premium increase over time and what are the increases based on - age, inflation, whether or not you claim?
  • How does the deductible and maximum work - per visit, per incident, per year, per lifetime?

You may not want all the policy features discussed above but you'll understand your policy better and have fewer surprises at claim time if you know what you are getting.

As for the company behind the product, ask these questions:

  • Who is the insurance company behind the product and what is its AM Best rating? (the higher the better) What does your local Department of Insurance say about that company and any policyholder complaints?
  • How long has the pet insurer been in business? This might or might not make a difference to you but ask the question anyway.
  • How does the company's customer service treat you now? Call them, ask questions, probe a bit. Just remember, the customer service now is likely as good as it's going to get while you haven't bought a policy.
  • What do other policyholders say about the company and their experience? Some options include www.petinsurancereview.com, www.bbb.org, and any online forums you participate in (just post a question asking about other people's experiences). You might not want to take all that you see online literally but some of the reviews and comments might indicate common grouchiness or delight with a company's product or customer service that you might find helpful.

There's no one pet insurer or pet insurance product that suits everyone's needs but if you build your own picture of the pet insurance landscape, you'll find the right policy for you and your pets.

More from Laura Bennett:
Why buy pet insurance?
Pet Insurance Nuts and Bolts

Disclosure: Laura Bennett FSA CFA is the co-founder of Embrace Pet Insurance company.

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