Maybe you just got a new kitten, have a cat who is getting older, or have experienced first hand how much vet bills can be from a friend’s experience. After all, kittens can get into all kinds of mischief, and older cats can be prone to health issues, both of which can cost a lot of money. Choosing a cat health insurance plan doesn’t have to be a hardship if you have some knowledge going into it and know what to look for.
What Is Pet Insurance
Pet insurance, which is also often referred to as pet health insurance, is to help you pay for expenses should something happen to your pet and they need medical care. Veterinarian bills can add up quickly especially if you need to take them to an urgent care center or if they need to stay overnight in a hospital. Also for serious conditions, your vet is apt to refer you to a specialist which can be very expensive.
How Does Pet Insurance Compare to Your Health Insurance
Similar to your insurance, pet insurance can have co-pays, deductibles, premiums, exclusions and maximum payouts. Pre-existing conditions for pets aren’t covered either.
Unlike your insurance, pet insurance works on a reimbursement basis. You must pay for your pet’s bills upfront; then file a claim with your insurance agency to reimburse you for the amount covered based on your policy rules. This amount can vary based on many factors which we will be discussing below.
Also, pet insurance doesn’t use networks like people insurance. You are usually able to take your pet to any licensed veterinarian in the United States. One item to note, some plans won’t cover your pet if you take them out of the country, so be sure to check the rules on this situation if you are going to travel outside the U.S.
Cat Insurance Coverage Basics
Pet insurance options will vary by plan and company. You have the choice of getting a more inclusive plan which covers everything such as illness, injury and wellness plan expenses. Another option would be to invest in a plan for illness and/or injury which tend to be the types of occurrences which will cost you more if your pet needs medical care. Many pet owners are easily able to afford the wellness treatment such as annual exams, shots, flea/tick treatment, etc. so don’t opt to include this in their plan.
Types of Coverage
1. Illness – You want to be sure your cat insurance covers illness. Some will even include serious conditions such as cancer. Having your cat stay overnight for care or going to a specialist are the types of fees which add up fast and can get into the thousands of dollars.
Note: Some cat health insurance offers lifetime benefits with no maximum payout limits*. For those looking for illness coverage, you may want to look for this option due to the costs a serious illness can incur. (*You can see our Healthy Paws pet insurance reviews which includes this significant benefit).
2. Injury – When your cat gets hurt, you may need to take them to the veterinarian immediately for emergency care. Hospital expenses can become expensive depending on what needs to be done and how long your cat needs to stay for treatment, including overnight.
3. Wellness/Maintenance – Some insurance plans don’t even include this as an option. For the most part, the fees for regular vet visits, shots, exams, etc. are typically affordable for pet owners and expenses you expect to pay.
Insurance for people can be complicated, and it’s no different for pets. Before selecting your own health insurance, you probably read up on your options to help you choose the best plan. You should do some research for your pet too so you make the right decision that suits your pet.
As you are probably aware, pet insurance is available for all types of pets, but since MeowBrand is all about the cat, I will be referring to cat insurance. Keep in mind, though, if you do have dogs, ferrets, rabbits, horses or another type of animal, your can get pet health insurance for them too!
Before You Buy Cat Insurance – Questions You Need To Answer
We all love our pets, and many of us treat them as a member of the family. We want to provide for them and take care of them, so they are happy, stay healthy and live a long time.
How would you answer the following questions:
- How much are you willing to pay to treat your cat if they were to become ill or get injured?
- Could you afford to pay possibly thousands of dollars for the treatment your cat needs to continue living a happy, healthy life?
Should You Get Cat Health Insurance
Some people may think it sounds silly to get insurance for your cat but please don’t think that way. What really matters is how you answered those two questions posed above. I’ve read so many sad stories about how someone had to give up their pet or stay no to treatment and thus shortening their pet’s life because they just couldn’t afford the expense of the necessary medical care.
Investing in pet insurance lets you know you can make medical decisions for your pet without worrying about whether you can afford the treatment. With insurance, you’re able to focus solely on making the best healthcare choices for your pet.
You should also know that pet insurance has become a multi-billionaire dollar industry, so there are millions of pet owners across the world who invest in an insurance policy for their pet. I think it is an intelligent choice and one that will give you peace of mind knowing your cat has insurance coverage in case anything bad were to happen.
How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost for a Cat
Cat insurance can start as low around $10 per month and can vary into the $20-$30 range depending on which type of insurance you get for your cat. Plans will often let you choose what reimbursement percentage and the annual deductible amount you want for your policy. You can switch these up to suit your pet and your budget making pet insurance very affordable.
Cat Insurance – Actual Quotes
Sample quote 1 – To give you some actual examples I went on a couple of popular pet insurers sites and got quotes. For the first one, I requested a quote for a 5-year-old mixed breed female cat living in New Hampshire, and the monthly premium quote was $11.72 for accidents and injuries.
By adding on coverage for illnesses, the premium increased to $23.71 a month. Even at the higher rate, the total for the year would be less than $300. Just one accident or illness requiring an overnight stay would surpass that amount.
Sample quote 2 – I entered the same pet info as the above example on a second pet insurance site (read my review of this cat insurance plan here) to get a quote covering illness, accidents and it also came with some additional coverage which was part of that plan. For this quote, I was able to select a reimbursement level (my choices were 70%, 80%, and 90%) and an annual deductible (my choices for this factor were $100 $250 and $500).
I choose 80% with $500 annual deductible, and it came to a $16.22 per month premium.
For both sites, in addition to your cat’s details that I mentioned I had to enter my email, but then each provided me the quote right there on the screen. I didn’t have to provide my name, credit card or any other information, so it was quite easy to get quickly two quotes online. I will be digging into the best plans and including some pet insurance reviews on this site.
Pet Insurance Discounts
Some pet insurers offer discounts if you are a member of such organizations such as AAA or AARP. Military discounts are sometimes available too. Additional discounts may be granted if your pet is microchipped or if you volunteer in animal welfare groups.
Healthcare Discounts at Your Vet
Separate from pet insurance but also something to consider is checking if your local vet offers any discounts. Taking advantage of a discount at your veterinarian may help save on costs and make a wellness level of cat health insurance unnecessary. You only want to enroll in what your pet needs and get the most coverage for your money, so I mention this as a consideration to take into account during your search for pet insurance.
I have my cats enrolled in a wellness program at our vet. I paid what amounted to the cost of one rabies shot per cat, and their shots are now covered for life as long as I bring them in for their annual exams. The exam costs more than the shot and is often something people may go without. I was taking them for their annual exams anyhow, so it was an easy decision to invest in the lifetime shots.
I believe the annual exam is worth it because I’d rather catch something wrong with my cat at the beginning rather than waiting until they are showing symptoms and it’s much worse. Not only will it cost more by waiting but I don’t want my cats to develop a worse condition or become ill when I could have prevented it. People go for annual exams so I believe my cats should also, that’s a health expense I expect to pay for.
Health Insurance Terminology
Below are some common terms you may run across as you are researching insurance for your cat. These are basic definitions to be used as a guide. I am not a vet nor do I have any formal medical experience. You should verify each with the company you decide on to be sure you have a complete understanding of how they apply in your situation.
Not all expenses are covered by your insurance plan. There may be fees which are not included in your policy. Make sure you know the difference between what is considered a covered expense and what you will receive no reimbursement for so you are not surprised when you receive the bill.
The deductible is an amount you have to pay before your insurance pays for anything. Deductibles can be a set yearly amount or be determined per incident.
The yearly option means you first have to pay a set amount during each policy year before your insurance will begin to cover some of the expenses. However up until that point, you must cover the total costs for your cat. The per incident means you have to pay a certain amount for each new incident and then your plan covers the remainder.
The lower the deductible, the more your monthly or annual payment will be since you are paying less out of pocket before you qualify for reimbursements. For example, if your deductible is only $100, once you pay $100 worth of covered expenses, the insurance company will start reimbursing you opposed to a $500 deductible which requires more out of pocket for you before you start being reimbursed. So the $500 deductible will mean you have a lower premium payment each month or for the year.
Once you’ve met your yearly deductible, the co-pay is an amount you’d pay for the incident. Your insurance plan would then pay the remaining amount minus your co-pay for covered expenses. Usually, this is based on a percentage, so for example, if your co-pay is 20% and the bill is $100, you’d pay $20 and your insurance covers the remaining $80 of the bill.
Be sure to check what is considered a covered expense because even if you have hit the deductible amount, it doesn’t mean that all expenses are automatically covered. You should review what is considered a covered and not covered expense prior to selecting your cat’s insurance policy.
The maximum payout is just that, the total amount the insurance plan will reimburse you for your cat. This amount could be based on an annual amount, by your cat’s lifetime or other factors. Be sure to ask if there are maximum payments, what they are and use this information when making a decision on which insurance company to choose for your cat.
Premium and Reimbursement Level
A premium a set amount you pay which either could be a monthly payment or annual one. The amount is determined by several facts such as the type of pet (cats are typically less than dogs), your cat’s breed, age, and where you live. Additionally, this amount also takes into account what you choose for deductibles, co-pays and the coverage you plan.
The reimbursement level is the percentage you select that you the insurance to cover your pet. A 90% selection means your plan will reimburse you for 90% of the covered expenses so in the end; you only have to pay 10%. The premium will be a little higher for a 90% reimbursement level opposed to a 70% selection.
When you first sign up for a plan, there is usually a time at the start when your cat is not covered. During the waiting period your cat is not covered so you want to understand what it is and know if there is just one overall waiting period or if there are different ones for injury, illness or anything else you have selected in your policy.
Pet health plans usually don’t cover any pre-existing conditions. What this means is if your cat had a condition before you signed up for the plan then it wouldn’t be covered. It could also include anything that happened or was diagnosed during the waiting period too.
Ready to Invest in Pet Insurance
Once you decide on a plan or while you’re researching, be sure to consider what you need for you cat and what your budget can afford. It may be worthwhile to pay a bit more to get a plan that covers accident, injury and illness. Play around with the deductible and reimbursement level options to find what is right for you.
Read through the insurer’s site to discover what they cover and any limitations. If there is a sample policy available, check it out too. Each company will offer different options, waiting periods and specifics on what their plan covers and how their policies are set up.