Our feline friends are much more than just pets- they quickly become true family members. I should know that, as one angelic kitty is purring in my lap as I write these lines.
When a family member gets injured or becomes sick, the whole family suffers. Luckily, we humans can, most of the time, visit the doctor on our own, drink the medicines prescribed and get better without stressing out our loved ones.
Unfortunately, a sick or injured cat depends solely on YOU!
Cats rely on their guardians to take care of them in their time of need, and that can be very expensive. The cost of veterinary services is rather high by default and can represent quite a huge financial blow for you, especially in instances when you need to treat your feline friends for longer than just one visit to the doc.
The bills pile up quickly in such a scenario and can reach whooping thousands of dollars in no time at all. That would be a serious strain on your home budget, don’t you think so?
Most of us rely on our health insurance to cover the bills of our treatment and thus feel secure and taken care of. So, why wouldn’t you do the same for your pet?
It is a win-win situation! You will be able to provide your cat with the best possible care without breaking your wallet, and your feline friend will be taken care of without delay.
Veterinary insurance will take a lot of burden off your back at a reasonable cost, and thus help you avoid potential catastrophic medical expenses. Plus, you can choose to include the wellness plan as well, and cover the regular checkups that can help your cat stay healthy and happy.
It might be true that cats have nine lives, but do you really want to take the risk and test that theory on your beloved purr-baby? If not, read on and find the cat insurance plans for your pet!
The History of Pet Insurance in the USA
Our country was not the first to introduce the pet insurance practice, Europeans beat us to it!
The first policy of this kind was issued in 1890 by Länsförsäkrings Alliance and covered only horses and livestock. The first dog to receive pet insurance lived in Sweden in 1924, and the first British dog was blessed with the same opportunity in 1947.
We were almost a century behind and issued the first pet insurance policy in 1982. It was sold by the company that exists to this day, the Veterinary Pet Insurance (a subsidiary of Nationwide). The dog that was given the honor to become the first insured pet in the USA was not an ordinary pet at all- it was a very famous and appreciated movie star widely-known as Lassie.
In 2007, the credibility was given to this idea by the establishment of The North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA). This important institution serves to regulate the pet health and insurance industry and make sure that all who participate in it respect the universal professional standards and maintain best practice, ethics, and quality of service.
The interest for pet insurance has notably grown over the years but has not lived to see a boom in the USA yet. Although the idea is more than 100 years old, Americans seem to doubt it still. Only 1% of all pets in our country are covered, almost entirely dogs.
If cats would have a say in this matter, I am quite sure they would rebel against the injustice!
Is Cat Insurance Worth the Money?
In the time of the nation-wide economic struggle a cat insurance cost might seem redundant, I know. This is maybe the main reason why cat insurance is still not popular in the USA in the first place.
However, the vet bills can quickly pile up when you have sick or injured cat and greatly surpass the cost you would need to pay to the insurance provider. And we all know it is sometimes impossible to immediately cover the out-of-pocket costs, so why not have a plan?
In terms of price, cat insurance policies are NOT standardized, so you get to search the one that best fits your budget as well as your pet’s needs. This can be a tiresome quest for choosing an appropriate insurance package can be a real brain-twister.
There are numerous things to consider, the price being one of them of course. If you opt for the lower-end premium, you need to be ready to make some major compromises in other aspects of your insurance policy.
If your feline friend is purebred, brace yourself for a high premium policy, as such breeds are often more prone to hereditary conditions. Also, make sure that the policy you purchase covers hereditary conditions in the first place, as some do not.
If you plan to insure a pet that has an existing condition, that can take the costs sky high, or, more probably, you will be refused by the insurance company. So starting an insurance plan for an elderly cat, or the one that has already had severe health problems (cancer, hip dysplasia, and loss of mobility or some kind of surgery), might not be a good decision in terms of value for your money.
So, who should buy the cat insurance?
People whose cat is relatively healthy can hope for a good quote on the insurance as well as for the major savings on veterinary fees in the future. It is recommended to opt for cat insurance with good coverage if you can afford it of course, as only such policies save you from having to pay those huge out-of-pocket expenses we have already mentioned.
A well-designed cat insurance policy can mean life for your pet, literally! The sad truth is that quite often cat owners face a decision of whether to euthanize their beloved pet or fall into debt to save it. The cat insurance will save you from having to make such a dreadful and heartbreaking decision.
Read on to find everything you need to know about the cat insurance, and then you will be able to weigh in all the pros and cons and decide whether it is worth your money or not.
There is always an option of forming an emergency savings fund for your purr-fect pet, but do not rush your decision yet, there is so much more you need to learn about the cat insurance!
Is Self- insuring a Valid Option?
I have already mentioned the idea of self-insuring, but what does it mean?
It means that you need to set up an emergency savings fund. In order to do this, you would have to be very responsible as well as have a steady income since you would need to set aside a certain amount of money every month.
This is not a completely bad idea as such a fund can get you through regular check-ups and minor treatments pretty painlessly. However, in a case of a major issue when veterinary fees can build up to tens of thousands of dollars, self-insuring will not account for much. Therefore, self-insuring might get you through a year or two if you are lucky, but it can never measure up to good pet insurance. A single premium payment, if you get a good deal, can pay you unlimited vet bills.
For example, if your cat is unlucky enough to succumb to kidney failure, a transplant procedure will cost you up to $15,000, and that would be only a portion of your total expense. You would need to secure extra care for your cat, pay for medications and special diet plan, and I am pretty sure those expenditures outpace your ability to save.
The cat insurance premium is probably higher than the amount you would set aside in case of an emergency fund, but the extra dollars will buy you peace of mind. Your cat will be able to have the best treatment including the most expensive procedures such as organ transplants, radiation, and stem-cell treatments.
Can Every Cat Be Insured?
You could already read that some cats might be refused by the insurance company due to serious pre-existing conditions or their age. For such cats, it is HIGHLY questionable if the insurance would be worth it for you even if you were accepted as the rate would have to be quite high.
In general, the older the cat, the higher the premium will be. Therefore, it is best to insure a kitten or a young cat, not prone to hereditary conditions. That would be purr-fect!
However, things are rarely 100% ideal, and I do not suggest that you should not insure an older cat. In fact, older cats are prone to some serious and hard to cure conditions such as kidney failure, different forms of cancer or loss of mobility. These diagnoses are very expensive to treat, and although insured younger pets bring more value in terms of money, you cannot really put a price tag on a life of a cat you love!
Extra Advice: Consult your veterinarian for advice and recommendations for the insurance plan for your cat. Your vet might already be working with the insurance provider you are interested in and can advise you on that matter as well.
How Does the Cat Insurance Function?
A majority of the USA companies that specialize in cat (or any other pet) insurance function in the same way:
- You have to pay the bill issued by the vet
- You then send the pet insurance provider a completed claim form and itemized receipts
- Finally, in about four weeks’ time, the insurance company sends a reimbursement check back to you (they take away any arranged deductibles in accordance with your policy conditions of course).
The Cat Insurance Defined: Terminology You Need to Know
Now that we have weighed in the pros and cons of the cat insurance policies, we should move on to build up our knowledge on that subject. In order to find the cat health insurance for your needs, you have to understand what is included and what isn`t.
Therefore, try to remember the following need-to-know terms:
If you have health insurance for you, you are probably already acquainted with this term. The term stands for the sum of money you need to pay out of the pocket, or better to say upfront. Most pet insurance companies charge the deductible per incident rather than per year.
This is another term shared with the human insurance, and it stands for the amount of money you need to cover per incident after your deductible. Co-payment is usually pre-set in the form of a percentage. For instance, 70/30 means that you need to cover 30% of the remaining balance, while the insurance company will take care of the 70%.
This term stands for all the ongoing conditions that have already been diagnosed before the purchase of the cat insurance policy. You are already warned that pet insurance companies normally exclude these conditions from the coverage.
Incidents are the conditions that occur during the coverage period and cause your vet visits. Some chronic conditions, such as allergies, will be treated as the single incident even if they require you to pay your vet multiple visits.
This term stands for everything that is not included in your policy coverage: hereditary and congenital disorders, pre-existing conditions and conditions that were a result of your intention or procedures you choose to put your cat through.
Almost all insurance company have a waiting period, and it is usually set for two weeks. You cannot make a claim during this period, nor will any vet visits or treatments during that waiting period be covered by the company.
It is a document you receive when you apply for an insurance policy. It lists all the conditions that will be covered as well as the monetary allowance that you are entitled to for the specific diagnosis.
Every schedule of benefits includes a code which is actually a number the insurance company uses to identify any diagnosis your pet might be given.
This is another term that you will be able to see on your schedule of benefits. It stands for the financial limitations that the vet insurance company sets for primary diagnoses or conditions such as exams, hospitalization, injections, surgery, and necessary treatment.
Similarly to the previous term, this term appears on the schedule of benefits. It refers to the cost limit set by the company regarding the primary diagnostic testing. Most of the time the specialized diagnostic tests will not be included in this limit.
The schedule of benefits will include this term as well and it refers to the maximum limit for general anesthesia costs the insurance is going to cover for each specific condition.
This term stands for the maximum reimbursement that you will receive in case your cat requires chemotherapy or radiation treatments. Usually, the radiation allowance is much higher than the chemotherapy one.
After the primary diagnosis, your cat can, as a result, develop a secondary condition. The coverage for such secondary conditions is listed under this term and will receive financial reimbursement as well.
Some pet insurance companies offer purchase of “endorsement.” Most often it is a cancer endorsement. It is an addition to your basic insurance plan and provides extra coverage for a specific condition such as cancer.
How to Choose the Cat Insurance?
As you can already conclude after reading all the previous sections, there are many factors that can influence your decision about the cat insurance. Most of the things you need to consider have to do with your feline friend and your budget.
Here are some make-or-break-the-deal considerations:
Type of Coverage
Accident only coverage
Although budget-friendly, accident-only coverage is very basic and does not cover any health issues nor any regular veterinary visits.. It will provide reimbursement only in the cases of accidents such as injuries, poisoning, snake bites or swallowed objects. It will not cover any illness that your cat might develop (allergy, diabetes, kidney failure, cancer). Most common injuries among cats are mostly soft-tissue traumas that do not lead to huge bills (such as scratches, bite wounds, lacerations, etc.). Such accidents can easily be covered by a self-insurance plan as well. This insurance plan can offer value only for elderly cats or the ones with pre-existing conditions that would be refused the illness or wellness plan. A kitten or a young cat would get much more value from a more advanced insurance plan.
Yes, an illness plan will cost more than accident-only one but will offer much more as well. Besides including everything the accident plan covers, it will cover most of the illnesses as well. As most illness plans include coverage for common conditions cats are prone to, they offer better value in the long run. ALMOST all coverage plans include the treatment of allergies, infections, diabetes, kidney failure, arthritis, and cancer. However, finding an insurance plan that will cover for the pre-existing or hereditary conditions can be a mission impossible. Even if you do succeed in this, the cost of it will most probably put you off immediately!
Wellness plans usually offer good value for money. They offer coverage for regular medical expenses such as annual examinations, vaccinations, dental cleanings, spaying, and neutering. The good news is that basic wellness plans are most often offered in accordance with the illness and accident coverage. Such insurance plans (that combine accident, illness, and wellness coverage) are called the comprehensive coverage packages and are the most popular type of pet insurance.
Before you choose your insurance provider make sure that you check the list of all the treatments and conditions that are excluded from the policy offered to you. We have already established that the list of exclusions is almost sure to include the pre-existing and hereditary conditions, but it can also include:
- Age limits
- Non-veterinary expenses
- Herbal and holistic treatments
- Treatment for parasites
Bear in mind that not every company will define the pre-existing conditions in the same way. Some pet insurance companies can go as far as claiming that any condition your cat has ever been treated for in her life (even if she has completely recovered), as well as any issue connected to it, will not be covered by their policy.
If the company does not provide you with a detailed list of the exclusions on their own (which is often the case), you might want to rely on customer reviews and investigate the company’s reputation.
Reimbursements and Deductibles
When it comes to the financial aspect of the cat insurance, you should look into the mechanism by which the payments and payouts function.
There are two standard options
- The insurance company is billed directly.
- The insurance company delivers a reimbursement after you pay the service upfront.
The latter option is much more frequent in the cat insurance policy realm. In the case of reimbursement you need to make sure that:
- The turnaround time is reasonable (you can again check the customer reviews to find out the real state of affairs and whether the specific company is renowned for reliable, quick payments).
- The reimbursement percentage is provided for the actual treatments your cat has had and NOT for the “standard” charge for that treatment (which is often lower than the real cost).
In most cases, higher reimbursement percentage and lower deductible bring about a higher premium.
The benefits offered by an insurance policy add value to it, and should, therefore, be taken into consideration. It would be best to avoid the insurance plans that offer annual limits and OPT for that that provide unlimited lifetime benefits.
As I have already stated throughout this section customer reviews can provide you with the most realistic representation of the quality of service a specific cat insurance company provides.
Customer satisfaction rate will help you discover what real customers think about the certain insurance company. Too many complaints regarding poor customer service, overdue reimbursement, or inconsistent premiums will warn you about a bad cat insurance company before you commit to it and it is too late to change anything.
I have done a lot of research and read numerous customer reviews to make your life bit easier, so stay tuned, and you will be offered a selection of top two cat insurance policies you can currently choose from!
Top Two Cat Insurance Policies
Healthy Paws Cat Insurance
Healthy Paw Pet insurance company has existed for almost a decade now and has gained significant popularity throughout our country. It offers unlimited lifetime benefits, unlike numerous other companies that impose annual benefit plans.
Furthermore, this company is set apart from others due to the fact that it does not exclude the hereditary conditions. Their coverage plan is comprehensive which means that it includes coverage for both accidents and illnesses. You do not need to worry about diagnostics cost nor the prolonged hospital stays, surgeries or alternative treatments. The plan covers the emergency care as well.
On the downside, this cat insurance policy does NOT include a wellness plan, nor the elective treatments, boarding or behavioral therapy. Your visits to the dentist can also be quite expensive as this insurance covers only for dental accidents. If your cat is OLDER than six years, the insurance cost raises significantly, while cats older than 14 years CANNOT receive the policy at all.
You can choose the deductible (from$100 to $500) and reimbursement level (70%, 80% or 90%). The reimbursement percentage will be determined by the actual cost of the treatment your cat has been given. There are numerous discounts offered as well.
- No hereditary conditions exclusion
- Covers all accidents and injuries
- Unlimited lifetime benefits
- An array of discounts
- Reasonable premium increases as your pet get older
- The wellness plan is not included
- No pre-existing condition coverage
- Not designed for elderly cats
Petplan Cat Insurance
Petplan Pet Insurance offers a comprehensive plan that includes both accident and illnesses plan plus all the needed veterinary examinations. It does not exclude congenital or hereditary conditions, but pre-existing conditions are not covered.
There is no need for you to buy any add-ons as this cat insurance includes coverage for all the alternative, diagnostic, and specialist treatments. It covers all the dental treatments your cat might need. All the prescription medications will be covered for as well.
If you choose a bit higher coverage, this insurance company will provide you with a few additional benefits such as coverage for behavioral treatment and boarding kennel fees. They will even cover the costs of finding the lost cat that has been stolen or strayed, including the money you need to pay for advertisement and reward for finding the cat you love.
You can customize your insurance plan by choosing an annual coverage amount (from $2500 to unlimited), deductible ($100 to $1000), and reimbursement percentage (70%, 80%, or 90%). Make sure not to skip your annual wellness exams, or otherwise, you risk losing your coverage.
- No upper age limit
- Veterinary professionals are eligible for discounts
- Includes hereditary conditions
- Flexible payout & pricing
- Short waiting periods (5 days for injuries/ 15 days for illnesses)
- Dramatic premium increases as the cat ages
- If you miss annual check-up, any condition diagnosed at the next visit is considered a preexisting condition
Whichever cat insurance you choose, you are investing wisely as future is highly unpredictable and everyone should protect all they love- be they humans or animals! Even if you never make a claim, your money will not be wasted because you have purchased your peace of mind- and no one can put a price on your emotional well-being.
Therefore, the cat insurance is an important step in protecting your family, since your cat is a loving family member as well!
If you have any questions or would like to share your reviews on the whichever cat insurance you choose, then comment down below. I would love to hear about this.