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Pet Insurance

Last Updated 7/28/17

Pet insurance is similar to health insurance for humans. It includes exclusions, various levels of coverage, deductibles, and payment limits. Some carriers have different levels of coverage for the customer to choose from, while other carriers have one-size-fits all type plans. Most pet insurance companies exclude pre-existing conditions and hereditary or congenital conditions, and most general pet health policies do not cover wellness or preventative items, such as annual exams, vaccinations, and spaying or neutering. Some insurance companies will not accept pets after a certain age and many companies have waiting periods before benefits begin.

Insurance policies are usually broken out by the type of pet being insured and some companies allow the owner to choose their veterinarian. The actual monthly cost of the policy will depend on many variables, including the species of animal, breed, gender, age, location, and the coverages and deductible chosen. Most policies pay on a reimbursement basis and are not transferrable to other pets, but with written approval and consent, some policies can be transferred to new owners.

Reimbursement methods can be slightly different among companies. Some companies use a benefit schedule, which reimburses policyholders based on the illness or injury and the coverage level chosen. Other companies reimburse percentages based on the amount actually spent by the policyholder. Pet insurance is not for everyone, and consumers who are considering it should do their research. There are many online education centers dedicated to pet insurance which include policy and company reviews, term definition and explanations, and questions consumers should ask of themselves and the companies they are considering.

Other Pet Risk Management Tools

Wellness Programs: In addition to pet insurance, some veterinary offices offer their own wellness plans. These offer wellness coverage for items traditionally not covered by pet insurance, like vaccinations and examinations.

Discount Plans: There are some national discount programs that exist as well. Programs like these offer veterinary services discounts for a monthly fee, calculated on the number and kind of animals owned. Typically, veterinarians who are part of a network must be used to receive the discount.

Pet Pharmacies: Many pharmacies, like Target and Wal-Mart, are beginning to carry pet prescriptions.

Homeowners Insurance: Homeowners and renters policies can sometimes assist with covering damages incurred by a pet while on their own property. Additionally, arrangements, such as boarding, may be covered for pets in a homeowner's additional living expenses (ALE), while the home is being repaired for a covered loss. However, homeowners need to be prepared and research to make sure their animal is not excluded by their insurance carrier as a dangerous breed. Usually, homeowners and renters policies protect an owner from liability caused by their animal, but if the carrier has identified the breed as dangerous, or a dog has a history of aggressiveness, that pet(s) may be excluded. For owners in such a situation, some additional or specific liability coverage could be purchased to cover the risk.

Status: During the 2016 Fall National Meeting the Producer Licensing (D) Task Force received a presentation from Nationwide Insurance regarding Limited Line Pet Insurance. The presentation provides a proposal from Nationwide Insurance asking that the Working Group revise the Uniform Licensing Standards - #37 Standards for Non-Core Limited Lines to remove Pet Insurance as a limited line. An open comment period concerning this proposal was distributed. Comments received can be found under Exposure Drafts. The Working Group will discuss the comments and determine appropriate direction for this proposal.