Friday, April 8, 2011

8 things to know about pet insurance -- and what's it cost?

1) What's it cost? Here in Washington, according to rates filed with our office:
  • Coverage for cats ranges from $83 to $926 a year; most policies are $150-$250 annually.
  • Coverage for a dog ranges from $107 to $1,059 a year, but most coverage is between $225 and $400 annually.
2) Coverage varies a lot. Some policies cover a broad range of things: accidents, sickness, surgery, x-rays, drugs, hospitalization, cancer treatment, etc. Others are much narrower, covering accidents and illness after a waiting period.

3) Look for exclusions. Insurers consider hereditary conditions pre-existing conditions and may exclude them or limit coverage. They may also exclude or limit coverage for incurable conditions like diabetes or cancer.

4) Qualifying: A vet may have to examine your pet and certify its health before you can insure it.

5) The rules can change when the policy renews. If your pet's treated for something, some insurers may consider that a pre-existing condition when the policy renews, meaning they'll exclude coverage for it.

6) And they can change based on your type of pet. Exclusions may vary by type of pet and breed.

7) Who pays the bills? Some companies will pay the vet directly, but often you'll be responsible for the full amount at the time of treatment.

8) Which vet? Some insurers will require you to use a specific network of vets.

For more specifics, please see our pet insurance page.