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How to compare pet insurance companies

When comparing pet insurance companies, be sure to check their reimbursement percentages. Getty Images

When it comes to financial products and services, it almost always pays to shop around first. This can range from looking for a new life insurance policy to finding the best home equity loan to securing the highest rate on your savings account. This approach is also applicable to some other, lesser-known financial products, too. Pet insurance is one such service.

Pet insurance can be valuable for a variety of reasons. In exchange for a minimal fee to a provider each month (that's often discounted if paid yearly), owners can secure coverage for veterinarian visits, treatments, medications and some procedures. Depending on the provider and policy chosen, owners can get reimbursed for up to 90% of the expenses they normally would have to pay in full out of pocket.

To get to that reimbursement level - and to find a company that fits best for you and your furry friend - it's smart to compare pet insurance companies. Below, we've listed four items you should use as a starting point. By completing an accurate, apples-to-apples comparison, you'll better be able to find the best pet insurance for your pet.

Start by getting a free price quote from Spot pet insurance here now.

How to compare pet insurance companies

Ready to start shopping for pet insurance? When reviewing companies, make sure to read the fine print. Specifically, you'll want to know all about the following:

Their reimbursement percentage

Pet insurance doesn't work like health insurance for humans does. When you bring your dog or cat to the veterinarian, you'll still need to pay for the services rendered that day. Once back at home, you can file a claim and get reimbursed for what you spent.

How much you're reimbursed, however, varies depending on the provider and type of policy you chose, so make sure to ask about this from each pet insurance company you speak to. If a policy with one company charges less but reimburses you for a smaller percentage than another company, you'll know why.

Get a free pet insurance quote here now and see what you're eligible to receive.

Their pre-existing conditions policy

Most pet insurance companies won't cover any pre-existing medical conditions your pet is suffering from. That doesn't mean they won't offer coverage after those conditions have healed. That said, the definition of a fully healed pre-existing medical condition varies by provider, as do the specific conditions they consider to be pre-existing, to begin with.

If you have a young puppy or kitten, chances are you won't have to worry about this when you apply. But if you have an older dog or cat, be sure to ask before signing on the dotted line. You don't want to get stuck paying for a policy you can't use.

Their waiting period

It's not a good idea to wait until your pet gets sick to get pet insurance, namely because of the mandatory waiting periods pet insurance providers enforce. This is the time frame between your application approval and the date your coverage kicks in. You won't be able to utilize your policy during this period.

Accordingly, make sure you know exactly when this period starts and ends. Although pet insurance companies have similar waiting period lengths, they may not be precisely the same. 

Their perks and extra coverage options

While most pet insurance companies offer similar services for similar costs, some may have extra perks and offer additional coverages their competitors do not. For example, you could potentially secure coverage for surprising things like treatment for separation anxiety or alternative medicines. Granted, this may be too much coverage for some owners, but other owners may find it worthwhile. Either way, it doesn't hurt to ask.

The bottom line

Pet insurance is a smart and effective way to protect both your pet and your bank account. With so many attractive pet insurance options currently on the market, it pays to do your due diligence and thoroughly research all of your options.

When comparing pet insurance companies, specifically look at their reimbursement percentages and pre-existing condition policies. Also be sure to know their exact waiting period schedules and any extra perks or coverage options that could separate their company from their competitors. 

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