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How to get health insurance for your cat

Pet insurance for cats can help you save on veterinary costs.

13 minute read
Key highlights
  • Pet insurance reimburses you for all or a portion of your veterinary bills if your cat gets sick or injured
  • Pet insurance plans can include accident-only plans, accident and illness plans, and routine care coverage
  • You can purchase insurance for your cat online directly from an insurance provider

Health insurance can cover a large portion of the costs of routine and emergency medical care for you and your entire immediate family. Well... the human members of your family, at least. When it comes to your furry, feline family members, pet insurance can help ensure your cat gets the high-quality treatment it needs without you having to spend a fortune at the vet.

As any cat owner knows, the cost of owning and caring for a cat can really add up. From regular veterinary visits to special diets, providing the highest standard of care for your cat isn’t always cheap. Pet insurance for cats can help you save on veterinary costs so you can provide your cat with the happiest, healthiest life possible without putting unnecessary stress on your finances. Getting affordable pet insurance for your cat is a quick and straightforward process, no matter your cat’s breed or age.

How to insure your cat with pet insurance

It’s easy to get comprehensive pet insurance for your cat. In some instances, you may be able to purchase pet insurance through your employer. As of 2018, around 11% of employers reported offering pet health insurance as a voluntary benefit to employees1. Contact your benefits or HR department to see if that might be possible for you. 

If your employer doesn’t offer pet insurance, you can purchase pet insurance for your cat online directly from an insurance provider. 

You can insure your cat at any age over seven weeks. Getting pet insurance early on makes it more likely that you’ll receive the most benefit from it, so it’s best to obtain insurance for your cat while he or she is still young and healthy. But since many pet insurance providers don’t have any upper age limits, you can insure your cat at any time. Just keep in mind that pet insurance premiums might increase as your cat ages.

Here’s how to obtain cat health insurance, step by step:

  • Get a quote – Be ready to provide information about your cat, including their name, breed, age, gender, and medical history. You’ll also have to provide some minimal information about yourself, such as your name, your zip code, and email address. It shouldn’t take you more than a minute or so to provide the necessary information.
  • Choose a plan that fits your needs – Once you receive a quote, review available plans, and choose one that suits your needs and budget. Most insurance providers offer multiple pet insurance plan options, including accident plans, accident and illness plans, and comprehensive plans that can cover all a pet’s veterinary costs. Select the right plan for your cat and your budget.
  • Enroll in a plan – Purchase your selected pet insurance plan online. The cost of your plan’s premium will vary depending on your cat’s breed and age, the level of coverage you choose, and your location. If you choose to go with Pets Best pet health insurance, you’ll get an additional 5% off all premiums thanks to Guardian Direct’s partnership with them.
  • Use your benefits – Once your cat is insured, you’ll be able to visit any licensed veterinarian in the country, even emergency clinics and specialists. Plus, you can file as many claims as you need, since filing claims won’t affect your monthly premiums. 

What is pet insurance?

Pet insurance reimburses you for all or a portion of your veterinary bills if your cat or dog gets sick or injured. Because pet insurance usually has to do with vet costs, some refer to pet insurance as pet health insurance or pet medical insurance.
Pet insurance can help you afford the excellent treatment your cat deserves while guarding against unforeseen vet costs. If your cat is in good health, cat health insurance can help you keep them that way. If your cat becomes sick or injured, pet insurance helps you cover the cost of the treatment they require. 

Steps for using cat insurance

How to use pet insurance and receive benefits may vary depending on your provider but using pet insurance is usually a relatively straightforward process. Still, it can take some getting used to. Here’s how to use Pets Best pet insurance, step by step:

  • Enroll in a plan –  To benefit from pet insurance coverage, you’ll have to purchase it before you need it. Choose a plan, enroll in a plan, and continue paying your monthly premium. 
  • Make sure your waiting period has passed – Most insurance plans involve some sort of a waiting period, which is the amount of time after enrolling in a plan before any coverage is provided. Pets Best waiting periods vary depending on the type of plan you purchase, but they’re usually two weeks or less. For accidents, waiting periods are just three days following the policy effective date. For illnesses, the waiting period is 14 days. Routine care plans can be used the very next day after enrolling.
  • Take your cat to see the vet as usual – If your cat gets sick or injured, take him or her to the vet for treatment. Your plan will cover visits to any licensed vet, so feel free to visit your usual vet, an emergency clinic, or even a specialty vet.
  • Submit a claim – After visiting the vet, submit your claim to your insurance provider. With Pets Best, all you must do is take a photo of your invoice and upload it to your customer account – no paperwork necessary.
  • Get paid – Rather than paying out benefits to your veterinary clinic, Pets Best deposits payments directly to your checking or savings account. Plus, they process most claims within a few days, so you shouldn't have to wait too long to receive your reimbursement.

What do pet insurance plans cover?

Pet insurance plans cover a wide range of health benefits. Most insurance providers offer a few different types of plans that range in cost and coverage. These often include accident-only plans, which cover treatment for accidental injuries; accident and illness plans, which cover treatment for both accidental injuries and various diseases and conditions; and routine care coverage, which can usually be added on to any type of plan for an additional cost. 

Pets Best accident and illness cat health insurance covers diagnosis, treatment, and management of the following:

  • Accidents – such as broken bones, lacerations, poisoning, foreign object ingestion, and car accidents
  • Illnesses – such as allergies, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, skin and ear infections, and urinary tract infections
  • Cancer treatments – including blood work, medication, chemotherapy, surgery, and MRIs
  • Hereditary and congenital conditions – such as hip and elbow dysplasia, epilepsy, and glaucoma
  • Emergency care – including hospitalization and surgery from any licensed veterinarian
  • Ongoing or chronic conditions – including any conditions diagnosed while your cat was insured, even if treatment spans many months or years
  • Diagnostics – such as bloodwork, exams, CAT scans, MRIs, pathology reports, and X-rays
  • Behavioral conditions – including medication prescribed by a licensed veterinarian and behavioral consults
  • Dental coverage – including gum disease

Most plans also offer coverage for chiropractic treatments, exam fees, prescription medications, and physical rehabilitation. However, these can often be excluded to suit your budget and your pet’s needs.

What don’t pet insurance plans cover?

Even the most comprehensive cat insurance plans involve some exclusions, or things they don’t cover, to keep prices low. These are some common cat insurance exclusions:

  • Pre-existing conditions – Most cat insurance plans won’t cover any illness or injury that began before your insurance policy started.
  • Elective and preventive procedures – Some preventive coverage is available with additional routine care coverage, but most base plans don’t cover procedures such as ear cropping, tail docking, declawing, and nail trimming.
  • Parasites – Most pet insurance plans don’t include testing, treatment, and prevention of parasites, including heartworms, fleas, ticks, and others.
  • Prenatal or newborn care – Most pet insurance policies don’t cover pregnancy or birth.
  • Non-veterinary expenses – Including vitamins, supplements, food, and special diets

How much is pet insurance?

Pet insurance monthly premiums vary depending on the following four factors:

  • Your cat’s age – Cat insurance for older cats is usually more expensive since the cost of unexpected vet care rises sharply as cats age
  • Your cat’s breed – Insurance costs between cat breeds can vary by as much as 50%. Abyssinian cats and Persian cats are rather expensive to insure, while Tonkinese and Bengal cats are typically cheaper
  • Where you live – Pet insurance premiums vary from state to state
  • Your plan’s annual limit, deductible, and reimbursement level – If you choose a plan with low out-of-pocket costs, expect your monthly premium to be higher

The type of plan you choose will also have a big impact on your monthly premiums. The North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA) found that the average monthly cost of accident and illness coverage for cats in 2019 was $29.16, or $10.51 for accident-only insurance2. But, with the average vet bill for unexpected care costing $800 to $1,5003, pet insurance makes caring for your cat more affordable.

Is pet insurance worth it?

Insuring your cat with pet insurance is an investment that can pay off. Pet insurance is designed to be used, and most pet owners end up filing multiple claims. It’s very likely that your cat will get injured or sick at some point during its life. In 2016, cat owners made over two visits to the veterinarian4 and paying for those visits isn’t cheap

Pet insurance is an investment worth considering for any cat owner. It allows you to guard your finances and your savings while still providing your cat with the quality of treatment they need and deserve. 

Do all cats need pet insurance?

Not all cats need pet insurance, but most are good candidates for it. If you just got a kitten and it’s under seven weeks old, you’ll have to wait until they’re old enough to insure it. But, for most cats, pet insurance is a good investment. Especially if your cat is currently in good health, purchasing pet insurance ahead of time allows you to rest easy knowing you’re prepared to provide them with whatever veterinary care they might need in the future. 

How to find the best pet insurance for your cat
Choosing the best pet insurance for you and your feline depends on your budget and your coverage needs. Consider these factors when choosing which cat insurance is best:

  • What does this insurance policy cover? – Before choosing a plan, decide whether you’re looking for illness coverage, accident coverage, routine care coverage, or a combination. Be sure to read the fine print about any relevant exclusions.
  • What are the coverage levels? – Veterinary treatments can be extremely expensive. Make sure your plan’s coverage limits are high enough that your finances wouldn’t take too big of a hit in the case of an emergency. 
  • What’s my budget? – Consider whether you’d feel more comfortable paying a lower monthly premium and higher out-of-pocket costs, or if you’d rather opt for a high monthly premium to keep out-of-pocket costs as low as possible.
  • Which providers are covered? – Some pet insurance plans restrict which veterinarians they’ll cover. The best cat insurance plans let you see any licensed veterinarian, including specialists and emergency care clinics.

The best pet insurance for cats allows you to keep your finances protected, be prepared in case of emergency, and provide your cat with the medical care they need to live a happy and healthy life. 

 

Links to external sites are provided for your convenience in locating related information and services. Guardian, its subsidiaries, agents and employees expressly disclaim any responsibility for and do not maintain, control, recommend, or endorse third-party sites, organizations, products, or services and make no representation as to the completeness, suitability, or quality thereof.

This is not dental care advice and should not be substituted for regular consultation with your dentist. If you have any concerns about your dental health, please contact your dentist's office.

The Guardian Life Insurance Company does not own or operate Pets Best. These products are provided through a third party arrangement between Guardian and Pets Best. Pets Best underwrites, issues and administers its own products through its underwriters, American Pet Insurance Company and Independence Insurance Company. Guardian assumes no responsibility for non-Guardian products or services offered by Pets Best.

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Sources:

1. https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/trends-and-forecasting/research-and-surveys/Documents/2018%20Employee%20Benefits%20Report.pdf, 2018
2. https://naphia.org/about-the-industry/section-3-average-premiums, 2020
3. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/sick-pet-highest-and-lowest-veterinary-costs-cats-dogs-by-state, 2017
4. https://www.avma.org/news/press-releases/avma-releases-latest-stats-pet-ownership-and-veterinary-care, 2018

Brought to you by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), New York, NY. Material discussed is meant for general illustration and/or informational purposes only and it is not to be construed as tax, legal, investment or medical advice.
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