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3 surprising things to know about pet insurance

Family taking their dog to the Vet
Pet insurance is a smart, cost-effective way of protecting your animal. To get the most value, however, there are some surprising things to know now. Getty Images

Pet insurance provides a unique combination of financial security for you and medical support for your pet. For a minimal cost each month you can rest assured knowing that you're protected in the event of an emergency.

While the benefits of pet insurance are significant (particularly for new owners), it doesn't work exactly like other types of insurance. While most Americans are familiar with the inner workings of their car, life and travel insurance, pet insurance is a whole different animal. 

That's not to say that pet insurance isn't a smart, cost-effective way of protecting your pet. It is. To get the most value, however, it helps to familiarize yourself with all aspects of this insurance type.

If you think you would benefit from having your dog or cat insured, then start today by getting a free quote.

3 surprising things to know about pet insurance

Here are three surprising things to understand about this unique form of insurance.

Pre-existing conditions are not covered

Pet insurance, unlike health insurance for humans, discriminates against pets with pre-existing conditions. Providers can reject coverage for pets who have these issues in advance of the policy starting. You may still be able to get some protection but the major issues that existed before signing up won't be covered. 

This is why it's so important to start early. Whether your pet is new to the family or a few years old it makes the best financial sense to sign up when rates are low and coverage is potentially more expansive. And if nagging health issues arise in the future your pet will already be grandfathered in. 

You can get a free pet insurance quote now or use the table below to find a policy that works for your needs.

One note: if a pre-existing condition clears up, you can potentially get coverage again. 

"A cured condition is a temporary condition or injury that is resolved for at least 12 months and may be considered for coverage in eligible states (check with customer service to find out if curable conditions are covered in your state)," pet insurer Lemonade notes. "Knee or ligament conditions and chronic conditions such as allergies, asthma or cancer cannot be cured." 

You'll have to pay out of pocket (temporarily)

When humans go to their doctor they can expect to pay a co-pay but not much more (bills for the overall visit may be mailed in the future). 

That's not how it works with pet insurance. When going to the vet, you'll be responsible for any services your pet received at the time of the visit. So you'll have to tap into savings or charge your credit card that day. 

Your pet insurance provider, however, will reimburse you for any money spent (depending on your policy). You'll just need to file a claim and submit it. From there, your insurance provider will process it and send you the funds you spent back.

In short: You won't pay for many visits, but you will have to pay the day of so plan accordingly.

Cats are cheaper than dogs

When it comes to pet insurance costs, the battle between cats and dogs has a clear winner. 

Cats, which typically require less care than dogs, are usually cheaper to insure. And if they do need to visit the vet, the service they need is often less expensive than it would be for dogs. 

"Despite the fact that dogs live fewer years on average, you could still easily spend $1,500 more over its lifetime to insure a dog rather than a cat," noted in an analysis of pet insurance costs.

More expensive, however, is relative as the price tag to insure either animal is reasonable. Pet insurance costs vary but you'll generally pay between $30 to $70 per month for a dog and $15 to $40 per month for a cat.

One note: while cats are typically cheaper to insure than dogs, some cat breeds may be more expensive than other dog breeds. An English Springer Spaniel dog, for example, could cost around $34 per month to insure while an Abyssinian cat could cost around $42 each month. 

The bottom line

Pet insurance offers unique financial advantages to owners but it doesn't work like other insurance types. Keep these factors in mind as you build out a smart coverage plan for your animal. You can easily get a price quote with Pets Best now.

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