Are you on the fence about getting health insurance for your cat? They have nine lives, right? Is pet health insurance for cats even worth it?
Keep reading to find out everything you ever wanted to know about getting pet insurance for your furry friend.
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How Pet Health Insurance for Cats Works
Any pet health insurance will have a similar structure to human healthcare. Essentially, policyholders get to pick what they want as a deductible, there's a reimbursement level and an annual maximum, and you get more coverage with a higher monthly premium.
Unlike human healthcare, most pet insurance companies have you pay the bill upfront with your own money, and then you can file a claim to get reimbursed. This means that no matter how high your coverage is, you will still have to pay your full bill out of pocket first. Luckily, there are however, companies like Trupanion that offer direct billing to your vet.
Here are some main terms you should understand before getting insurance for your pet.
The monthly premium is the amount you have to pay your insurer every month to be covered. It can range from as low as $10 to as high as $100 depending on your plan.
This is the amount in dollars that you have to pay either for a specific treatment or annually before your insurance company pays anything. Your deductible can be as low as $40 or as high as $1,000. Usually, lower deductibles mean higher monthly premiums.
This is the percentage of your pet's medical bill that the insurer will pay after the deductible. There's also the annual maximum, which is the maximum amount your insurance provider pays toward medical bills each year that are eligible.
This amount can range from $5,000 to $15,000. Lifetime maxes and incident plans are available but are less common.
How to Choose the Right Insurance Plan for Your Pet
When selecting an insurance plan for your cat, it's important to consider a few things. First, you want to really think about how much the insurance is going to cost in total, and what your coverage level looks like.
For example, if you have a high deductible but a low reimbursement level, you'll want a low annual max for the cheapest coverage. But you'll also get the least financial benefit when you need to be reimbursed for treatment.
Also, know that some of the most comprehensive plans will heavily reimburse your cat's treatments. The monthly cost might not be worth the reimbursement of the benefit, though.
What Is a Pre-Existing Condition?
If your cat has a pre-existing condition, that means the condition first happened or that there are clinical signs or symptoms shown before your cat's coverage began. All pet health insurers usually exclude pre-existing conditions from your cat's coverage.
Why All Cats Need Insurance
You might not think your cat needs insurance because of his or her age. The truth is that all cats need insurance, regardless of their age.
Your curious little kitten could need emergency care, or your senior cat could develop diabetes later in life. Here's a breakdown.
Kittens to Five-Year-Old Cats
It's just as easily for kittens and younger cats to get sick as older cats. They can experience a variety of illnesses like upper respiratory and urinary tract infections.
Kittens are super curious and will often eat things that they shouldn't, such as rubber bands and needles, which may require surgery to remove.
Cats Six and Up
When your cat gets older, there's a good chance she could develop congenital or hereditary conditions that could be expensive to treat without pet insurance. Most pet insurance policies will protect your cat for a lifetime and can help you in these cases.
How Much Does Cat Insurance Cost?
The cost of cat insurance per month can be as low as $10 or as high as $80 depending on your plan. The cheapest policies will likely only cover injuries. These are known as "accident only plans."
These plans usually cost between $10 to $20 per month. You will want an accident only plan if you have a healthy but injury-prone feline, or if your cat spends a good amount of time outdoors.
As for the most comprehensive plan, that would be one that covers both illnesses and accidents and ranges around $20 to $40 a month. With these plans, everything from infections and wounds to cancer is covered.
Keep in mind, though, that if your cat has a pre-existing condition, it's possible that a new illness wouldn't be eligible even if it's not related to the pre-existing problem.
Cat Insurance Costs by Breed
The cost of cat insurance between breeds can vary up to 50 percent. The most expensive breeds usually have a high risk of developing genetic conditions, so the cost of their coverage is likely more expensive.
Take the Abyssinian cat, for example. This breed is the most expensive to insure because it's prone to knee problems, eye issues, dental disease, and kidney failure.
On the other hand, healthier breeds are cheaper to insure. Out of the 10 most popular cat breeds, Tonkinese cats have the lowest insurance costs as they're known for their strong immune systems and healthy genes.
Cat Insurance Costs by Age
The age of your cat will also affect the cost of their pet insurance. Pet insurance for an older cat is significantly more expensive than that for a younger cat. This is because kittens usually have fewer health problems, while older cats are more likely to contract disease or be prone to injuries.
With most pet insurance plans, your monthly premium will get higher as your cat gets older.
When Should I Get My Cat Health Insurance?
If you're new cat owner and you're thinking about getting your cat on an insurance plan, know that you want to enroll your kitten as soon as possible. Your kitten starts with a clean slate, so there's less of a chance that she has a preexisting condition.
This means that future illnesses will be reimbursed. Most pet insurance companies start to cover kittens when they are eight months old. Therefore, you'll have to pay all medical bills out of pocket until your cat is at least eight months old.
If your cat is older, you risk the possibility of not being eligible for pet insurance. This does vary from insurer to insurer, but most insurance plans stop covering cats at a certain age.
This is because older cats have much higher medical costs that insurance providers don't want to be liable for. Also, they have a more elaborate history of illnesses that can be considered preexisting conditions, which are not covered.
That's why you want to get your cat insurance sooner than later. If you've been a policyholder for years, your insurance will continue to cover your cat for a lifetime.
What's Included and Excluded in Pet Insurance?
Most of the illnesses and injuries your cat can get will be eligible for coverage as long as these are not hereditary or pre-existing conditions. The big exclusion of pet insurance plans is pre-existing conditions. Dental expenses and grooming services are also not covered in health insurance plans for cats.
However, there are some policies that let you pay more for dental and wellness expenses, but these add-ons usually aren't a smart decision economically.
Another thing to keep in mind, preexisting condition exclusions can get rid of a lot of issues, such as a history of illnesses, from your cat's eligibility. This means that some insurers won't cover high blood pressure as well as kidney or heart issues or hyperthyroidism developed before you've purchase coverage.
Also, if your cat was diagnosed with tumors, the insurer may not pay for her treatment. You always want to read all of the details of your cat's policy first and figure out what conditions she had before and what potential future issues will be covered or excluded.
Is Pet Insurance for Cats Worth It?
As we mentioned, the best time to get your cat insured is when your feline is healthy, young, and has few to none medical issues. The cost of your cat's health insurance per month will be much lower as a kitten if you buy your plan early. But know that premiums will get higher as she gets older.
If your cat is older, you might deem it not worth it to get insurance. Regardless of your her age, pet insurance does give you peace of mind. You may even be able to save your cat's life without spending a fortune — if you're insured.
Get Your Cat Pet Insurance Today
Now that you know everything you need to know about pet health insurance for cats, get your cat insured today. Don't wait until it's too late. The older your cat gets, the harder it will be to cover your feline.
For more information on health insurance, check out this post!