Pet health insurance is similar to human health insurance—you pay a premium and the insurance company helps cover the cost of most veterinary bills. Considering the cost of some veterinary expenses, Pet insurance can seem like a good deal, especially if your companion falls ill or incurs an injury. Before purchasing a policy, it’s a good idea to understand how Pet insurance works to determine if a plan truly benefits your Pet and saves you money.
Important Pet Insurance Terms
- Policy: A Pet insurance plan.
- Policy term: The amount of time an insurance policy lasts. A plan with an annual term, for example, renews every 12 months. Some insurance providers offer lifetime policies.
- Premium: The amount of money you pay for Pet insurance coverage. If a plan has a monthly premium, you pay the insurance company once a month to maintain coverage. Plans tend to have monthly, quarterly or annual premiums.
- Exclusions: Conditions or incidents that a Pet insurance company does not cover. For instance, a plan might cover medical costs, but exclude dental work.
- Preexisting condition: A condition that a Pet has prior to receiving insurance coverage. If a plan does not cover preexisting conditions, it will not pay for treatment related to the condition. Additionally, a plan might not cover the treatment of known hereditary problems.
- Waiting period: The amount of time you must wait for an insurance policy to cover certain illnesses or treatments. Pet insurance companies implement waiting periods to deter customers from purchasing a policy after a Pet receives a serious diagnosis or injury. The waiting period varies by insurance company and the type of illness or incident.
- Maximum benefits paid, or payouts: The most an insurance company will pay per term or for certain types of illnesses. For example, an insurance provider might cover all the costs related to wellness exams, but only $1,000 per term for costs related to diabetes treatments.
- Deductible: The amount of money you pay out-of-pocket per term before the Pet insurance company covers the remaining costs. If a policy has a $500 deductible, you are responsible for paying the first $500 of veterinary expenses. After you meet the deductible, the insurance company will cover the remaining expenses during the term. Some Pet insurance companies have different deductibles for various body systems or incident types.
- Co-pay: The amount of money you pay-out-of-pocket at the vet visit. Co-pays often do not count towards the deductible. If a policy has a $30 co-pay, you pay $30 for a vet visit and the insurance company covers the rest. Co-pays can be dollar amounts or percentages of a veterinary bill. Some insurance companies refer to co-pays as “excess.”
How Pet Health Insurance Works
While every Pet insurance plan is different, they generally work in the same manner:
- You go to a veterinary office because your Pet is ill, injured or has a wellness exam scheduled. With most insurance policies, you can take your Pet to the veterinary clinic of your choice.
- You pay for the full cost of the veterinary visit out-of-pocket.
- You submit a claim to the Pet insurance company. Depending on the company, you may need to submit paperwork related to the treatment received. The insurance company may require you to submit the claim form online, in the mail or via fax from the veterinary clinic.
- You receive a check in the mail from the insurance company, reimbursing you for the expenses that the policy covers, which might vary from the amount of the bill.
Unlike a doctor or dentist, most veterinary clinics do not file Pet insurance claims on your behalf. It is your responsibility to obtain and submit the supporting documents and information that the insurance company requires.
In addition, if your Pet insurance plan has co-pays, you are still required to pay the full cost of the veterinary visit during the appointment. The check that you receive in the mail will typically cover the cost of the treatment, or a percentage of the treatment, minus the co-pay amount.
Does Your Pet Need Pet Insurance?
It is difficult to determine if your budget and Pet would benefit from a Pet insurance policy because you never know if your companion will get hurt or fall ill. If your Pet never gets sick or hurt in its lifetime, you’ll save money if you pay full price for annual wellness exams and never purchase an insurance policy. Conversely, if your Pet requires medical attention, already having a Pet insurance policy in place will help relieve the financial burden that comes with veterinary bills.
Factors to consider when determining if Pet insurance is right for you include your Pet’s:
- Activity level
- Roaming territory (Is your Pet an indoor-only companion or one that explores the neighborhood?)
- Training level (For example, a dog that isn’t trained might be more likely to run into the street if it’s not on a leash.)
Every Pet insurance company is different and the policies offered cover different situations. The least expensive policies might only cover the cost of wellness exams, while the most expensive cover a variety of situations and conditions. Some companies offer accident-only plans that cover veterinary expenses related to unfortunate incidents, such as getting hit by a car or an accidental poisoning.
When looking at different insurance policies, consider whether or not they cover conditions common to your Pet’s breed. If you have a Doberman pincher, for example, it is important that the policy covers conditions such as von Willebrand’s disease, wobbler syndrome, narcolepsy, heart disease and hip dysplasia. Pet owners should also verify the types of routine care the policy covers, such as vaccinations, heartworm testing and medications, wellness visits, dental cleanings, and spaying or neutering.
Treatments that insurance companies cover also vary by provider. These may include lab work, medical exams, routine checkups, dental care, behavioral treatment, alternative veterinary medicine, and continual treatment for chronic or serious ailments.
It is important to keep in mind that Pet insurance companies only cover certain types of companions. Most companies cover cats and dogs. You might need a special policy for Pets considered “farm” animals (e.g., potbelly pigs), birds or exotic animals (e.g. Burmese pythons).
The Cost of Pet Insurance
Pet insurance policy premiums vary by carrier, or insurance company. In general, the least expensive policies are accident-only policies. When determining policy premiums for your Pet, the insurance company will usually consider:
- Your Pet’s age
- Your Pet’s breed
- The type of coverage you seek
- The deductible you choose
- The reimbursement level you choose
- Your zip code
Some Pet insurance companies might also consider your credit history, the health history of your Pet, and other items when determining your premium.
If you purchase a Pet insurance policy, bear in mind that the premium will likely increase as your Pet ages. The rate might also increase if you file several claims related to a Pet’s medical condition during a policy term.
Pet Health Care that Works for You
One of the greatest reasons that Pet parents don’t seek veterinary care for their companions is because of high veterinary costs, even with Pet insurance. Hannah the Pet Society brings you a new Pet care model based on retained ownership that makes it simple and affordable to give your companion the care it needs without worrying about the cost.
Retained ownership isn’t a new concept. Livestock owners often use it to allow different facilities to care for animals that they didn’t sell. With Hannah’s retained ownership model, Hannah legally owns your Pet during the period of time the Pet is on the Hannah program, but your Pet lives with you forever. You don’t give up any of the rights that you have as a Pet parent. Instead, you gain greater access to the veterinary care your Pet needs because, as the owner, Hannah provides the care – you just provide the love and companionship like you always have. Your relationship with the Pet never changes.
How Hannah Works
When your companion becomes a Hannah Pet, you pay a one-time Total Lifetime Care (TLC) Plan fee to enroll in the program that covers as many Pets as you want it to. You then pay a monthly fee for each Pet in the TLC program. The fee depends on the Pet’s species and age.
Hannah will then provide the Pet the following benefits at no additional cost:
- Unlimited preventive wellness exams at a Hannah Health & Education Center
- Dental care, lab tests and specialty care at a Hannah Health & Education Center
- Treatment for unforeseen damages, such as illnesses or injuries
- Regular prescription medications on Hannah’s formulary (heart worm, flea and tick can be added)
- Pet training at a Hannah Health & Education Center
Unlike Pet insurance policies, you do not have to fill out and submit claim forms when your Pet receives veterinary care at a Hannah Health & Education Center. You also don’t have to worry about co-pays, deductibles, maximum benefits paid, reimbursements or out-of-pocket expenses.
Hannah does not deny injured or ill Pets but, depending on the problem, they can cost more. We will work with you to ensure your Pet receives the treatment it deserves at a more affordable cost.
All Hannah Agreements are month to month and able to be cancelled at any time, so you’re not committed to any long term contract. With Hannah’s retained ownership model (under which you transfer ownership of your Pet to Hannah during the period the Pet is on the Hannah Program), you remain your companion’s Pet Parent for life. We just make it simpler and more affordable for you to give your Pet the medical and dental treatment it needs. You also have the option of resuming legal ownership of your Pet anytime you want to. All you have to do is reimburse Hannah for part of the cost of the care that it already has provided for the Pet, as outlined in the Membership Agreement.
The Benefits of Hannah’s TLC Plan
- Save money: Hannah’s retained ownership model is generally less expensive than traditional Pet insurance policies, and you’re not responsible for co-pays or deductibles.
- Access to comprehensive care: The TLC Plan gives you access to unlimited routine checkups, dental care and lab tests at a Hannah Health & Education Center. You also receive access to emergency veterinary care, prescriptions, and a 24/7 PetNurse Helpline. The plan also includes unlimited behavior and training services, invitations to special events and optional free pet food delivery.
- Affordable access to veterinary care: With Hannah, you never have to choose between saving money and caring for your Pet. Since the TLC plan covers the cost of wellness checkups and exams, all you have to do is bring your Pet to the scheduled appointment. If your Pet is sick or injured when you sign it up to be a Hannah Pet, your companion will receive the care it needs before becoming a Hannah Pet at a discounted rate.
- Support the community: Part of the TLC fee supports our nonprofit Hannah’s Helping Hands charity that brings Pets into local retirement centers and classrooms.
- Pet Parent education: In addition to behavior and training classes for Pets, Hannah offers educational opportunities for Pet Families.
Custom Plan Options
Hannah simplifies all aspects of Pet care and being a Pet Parent. In addition to the TLC Plan, we offer personal services for additional amounts, such as:
- Pet food that is delivered free
- Cat litter that is delivered free
- Tick, flea and heartworm control at discounted rates
- Picking up and dropping off your companion for a Hannah appointment in a Pet limo
Hannah sees your Pet through sickness and health. Our unique model makes it possible for you to give your beloved companion the veterinary care it needs without worrying about expensive bills. As a result, Hannah Pets receive twice as much veterinary care and are more likely to receive behavioral training that will keep them safer than non-Hannah Pets. Because cost is never a consideration for a medical decision at a Hannah facility, you can focus more on loving and caring for your Pet, and less on worrying about money, deductibles and filing claims. Also, it feels great to leave a veterinary office without thinking about a bill.
When considering Pet insurance policies, read the fine print and obtain as much information as possible, including what is and what is not covered and all co-pays, deductibles and limits, to learn if a plan is right for you. Then weigh an insurance plan’s advantages and costs against Hannah’s unique model to determine which program will benefit your Pet and pocketbook the most.