The other day I was in my neighborhood Giant grocery store doing my weekly grocery shopping. Just as I was about to pick out a sweet watermelon for dessert that night, a woman came over the loudspeaker and said, “Do you have a dog or cat? If so, be sure to inquire about Companion Pet Health Insurance.” “Wait a minute,” I thought to myself. “Companion is the name of the Giant brand pet food product line that is sold in their grocery stores. I guess they are now in the veterinary pet health insurance business, as well. Interesting.” Of course, as soon as I got home (and after the watermelon was safely in the refrigerator), I inquired about their veterinary health insurance programs. Here is what I found.
Companion pet insurance is offered through the PTZ Insurance Agency, which is located in Buffalo, New York. You don’t need to live in Buffalo to buy a pet insurance plan from them. To enroll your pet, they must be at least eight months of age or older. They have two significant plans to choose from, including the Companion Optimum and Companion Complete. Both require you to pay for services in full and then submit your receipts ( along with a claim form) for reimbursement. This is not a surprise as most veterinary health insurance plans work in this way (some individual health insurance works this way too!).
The Companion Optimum Plan allows you to enroll your pet if he or she is between the ages of 8 weeks and six years. They may enable older dogs; however, you would have to speak to a representative to confirm this. Most veterinary pet health insurance companies do not enroll “senior” animals. This plan pays 90% of selected services (first-time illness coverage, select accidents, and $150 for annual wellness costs). Examples of “select accidents” would be ingestion of a foreign body, motor vehicle accident, ingestion of poison, broken bones, burns, and allergic reaction to insect bites. The maximum coverage of “select accidents” is $1500 to $2000. Oh, and before I forget, the deductible for most claims that fall under the Companion Optimum Plan is $100.
The Companion Complete Plan pays out 70% for services rendered. It covers cats that fall between 8 weeks and ten years of age and dogs that are at least eight weeks and younger than eight years of age. It covers a variety of services, including accident, illness, and wellness (which is preventative care). The Companion Plan also includes other services such as accidental death, kennel fees (if your dog is required to stay at the vet), recovery costs (which is the fee you pay to advertise to find a lost pet) and euthanasia and cremation. Coverage amounts and deductibles vary under this plan.
When considering any veterinary pet insurance, it is crucial to do your homework. There are many different plans out there, and they all offer different “deals.” Before you sign on the dotted line, BE SURE TO CALL the veterinary pet insurance company that you are interested in, ask A LOT of questions and never feel pressured to buy an insurance plan that you are not comfortable with. Different policies cover different things, and you must make sure that the breed of dog or cat that you own is covered. The Chinese Shar-Pei, for example, often has medical conditions that are not covered by many veterinary pet insurance plans. Below are some questions that you should ask BEFORE purchasing any policy.
What services will the particular plan you are interested in cover?
What are the deductibles for different services?
How do you get reimbursed? Ask exactly how to file a claim and how long it takes for claims to be processed.
Is the particular breed of cat or dog that you own covered?
Do they pay for euthanasia and cremation?
What are the exclusions (important!!!)?
What is the EXACT price of the plan you are interested in?
Can you use ANY veterinarian, or must you go to a vet that is “in the plan?”
Are emergency veterinarian services covered? Can you go to ANY emergency veterinary hospital that you choose?
Be sure to have your questions handy before you call the veterinary pet insurance plan representative. Being prepared and being smart will help to ensure that you get the best, most affordable plan for you and your pet!