How To Find The Best Pet Insurance

Pet insurance is not mandatory, but it can help you cover high costs in the case that your furry loved one requires a trip to the animal hospital. Not all pet insurance plans are the same and it can be hard to determine which one is best for you and your pet if you aren't sure what to look for. In this guide, we've explained important pet insurance terms and how to find the right plan based on cost and coverage.

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Benefits and Exclusions: Is Your Dog Or Cat Covered?

It's important to note that not all pets are covered by insurance so one of the first things you should check is whether the pet insurance policy covers your cat or dog's breed and age. For instance, certain breeds like Bull Terriers and Mastiffs will almost always be excluded from coverage. When it comes to age, only dogs between the ages of 3-4 months and 7-10 years old are eligible for pet insurance. However, it's possible to find plans that cover senior dogs and cats up to the age of 13 years old or puppies as young as 2 months old.

Furthermore, you should also expect each plan to have different requirements regarding microchipping, vaccination status and whether your pet is a working pet (like a law enforcement, racing or breeding dog). Some pet insurance plans do not cover your pet unless he or she is fully vaccinated first. In other cases, some providers charge higher premiums for dogs that are not microchipped.

Common Dog Breeds That Are Not Insurable

  • Mastiffs
  • Bull Terrier
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • Pit Bull
  • American Pit Bull
  • Argentine Dog
  • Canary Dog
  • American Bulldog
  • Wolf Dogs
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Rottweiler
  • German Shepherd & Related breeds (e.g. Belgian Shepherd)
  • Mixed Dogs of Aforementioned Breeds

After you've determined whether a pet insurance plan covers your dog or cat, the next step is to carefully review the plan's coverage and exclusions. Below, we've listed common covered conditions and medical services, as well as those that aren't covered.

Common Pet Insurance Benefits and Exclusions

BenefitsExclusions
  • Accidental Death
  • Accidental Injury
  • Vet Fees
  • Non-Surgical Illness
  • Surgical Illness
  • Cremation or Burial
  • Loss of Dog Due to Theft
  • Chemotherapy
  • Room & Board
  • 3rd Party Liability
  • Pre-Existing Conditions
  • Conditions from Breeding
  • Preventative or Cosmetic Treatments
  • Spay and Neutering
  • Euthanasia

Each pet insurance plan has its own set of benefits and exclusions that will not be fully represented by this list. Additionally, while some plans may include certain benefits in their core plan, it's possible that others are optional and will need to be bought at an extra cost.

For every benefit in your pet insurance type, there will likely be an annual limit that your provider will pay for. For instance, a provider will pay up to S$3,000 for accidental injury. If your pet insurance claim exceeds this annual limit, you will have to pay the remainder out-of-pocket for your pet's hospital bill. If there is a condition you are most worried about, like cancer, a pet insurance plan with a high annual limit for chemotherapy is something that you should look out for. Similarly, if your dog's breed is at high risk of certain hereditary conditions, then you can consider a plan that covers congenital health issues (not to be mistaken for pre-existing health conditions) like hip dysplasia, glaucoma and inverterable disk disease.

Considering the Cost Of Your Pet Insurance Plan

Cost is a significant factor in choosing a pet insurance plan. Here, we've explained different cost factors that you should consider when comparing plans.

Annual Premium — A premium is how much you will pay per year for your pet insurance plan. In Singapore, the average pet insurance premium is S$210 per year, though you can find premiums up to 67% lower or higher than this average. Premiums are a good starting point to determine the value of the plan, and gauge whether or not the pet insurance in question fits your budget.

Deductible — Deductibles refer to a certain amount of money that you must pay before your pet insurance claim is covered. It's important to carefully review deductibles for all benefits in a pet insurance plan, otherwise you could actually pay more out of pocket than you intended. For instance, a pet insurance plan with a S$1,000,000 limit for 3rd party liability coverage is an exceptional feature, but its S$1,000 deductible would be a problem for pet parents on a budget.

Co-Insurance — Co-insurance is the percentage of a claim that you are financially responsible for. For instance, if your pet insurance plan has a 10% co-insurance on your dog's non-illness surgery, then you will only be reimbursed 90% of the cost after you file a claim. When comparing pet insurance plans, you'll want to look for the lowest co-insurances for benefits that matter most to you and your pet. You should also note that some plans increase co-insurance for older dogs and cats.

No-Claim Discount - If you don't file a claim for a full policy period, then you might be eligible for a no-claim discount depending on the pet insurance plan. For example, if your cat was healthy throughout the year and didn't require any medical services, then you would receive a 5 to 15% no-claim discount which would help you save money on your next annual premium (if you were to renew the plan). This feature is especially helpful for pet parents that are paying for more expensive insurance plans.

In all, your total out-of-pocket expenses are determined by more than your annual premium. Pet parents who want maximum protection can look to insurance plans with high annual limits per coverage type, but this will likely result in higher premiums. In this case, it's important to keep an eye out for no-claim discounts that can provide a bit of financial relief when your pets are in good health. Similarly, pet parents who want to save money should consider how much they are able to afford in deductibles and coinsurance payments in addition to premium costs.

A Step-By-Step Guide To Choosing The Right Pet Insurance

Compare Multiple Pet Plans

Now that you know what to look for, you can compare multiple pet insurance plans to find differences in costs and coverage. To start, you can review our recommendations for the best pet insurance plans in Singapore based on your budget and pet's needs.

Carefully Review Coverage and Exclusions

You can easily narrow down your pet insurance options by putting aside those that do not cover your pet's breed, age, micro-chipped status, and working status. Similarly, you should be aware of your deal breakers, like chemotherapy or accidental death coverage.

Consider Costs Of Different Insurance Plans

Whether budgeting is a priority or you're trying to choose between two similar plans, you should compare different cost factors of pet insurance plans. Annual premiums are a good place to start, but factors like deductibles and coinsurance play a large role in shaping your out-of-pocket expenses.

Your pet deserves the best protection. Now that you know what to look for, you can give it to them.

Natalia Sanchez-Kumar

Natalia Sanchez-Kumar is a Research Analyst at ValueChampion. She is a History graduate of New York University and has worked in the area of social impact, Future of Work and socio-technological research in the US and India. She has co-authored policy proposals alongside the International Labour Organisation in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, as well as hosted a data privacy conference with Facebook in New Delhi.