4 Things Your Pet Insurance May Not Cover

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  • Pet insurance can protect you from having to pay for surgery or to treat a major illness.
  • It's important to understand what your coverage entails.

Prepare to pay for these costs out of pocket.

A friend of mine recently adopted a dog, and since it was her first, she asked me (a long-time dog owner) if there were essential items she should buy. After making her a list to take to the local pet store, I followed up my advice with a very emphatic, "And also, don't wait to buy pet insurance."

Now, some pet owners will tell you that pet insurance isn't a very good investment. And between the cost involved and the number of things insurance won't cover, it's easy to see why they might feel that way.

But the one thing you should remember is that the main purpose of pet insurance is to cover catastrophic issues, like major illnesses, injuries, and surgeries. It's not necessarily supposed to cover every single cost related to your pet. And if you're going to invest in coverage, it's important to know what your policy will and will not cover.

As is the case with health insurance for humans, every pet insurance policy is different. So while one policy might cover certain types of routine vet care, another may not.

But either way, there are certain items that most pet insurance policies generally won't pay for. Here are some you should know about.

1. Pre-existing conditions

Most pet insurance companies will not pay for care related to a pre-existing condition. If your dog is diagnosed with diabetes, for example, and you then decide to get pet insurance, don't expect the cost of insulin and other medications to be covered.

2. Groomings

Animal groomings aren't always limited to a shampoo and fluff. Rather, it's common for a groomer to take care of important tasks like nail-grinding and teeth-brushing, both of which are tied to animals' health. But don't expect your pet insurance policy to cover the cost of a groomer. It may pick up a separate tab for dental care, but that'll most likely only happen if that care takes place in an actual vet's office.

3. Experimental treatments

Just as human health insurance will often reject claims for experimental treatments, so too will pet insurance companies commonly follow suit. Plus, there are some human meds that are approved for use in animals even though they weren't designed for them. You may have trouble getting those meds covered.

4. Dietary supplements

Some animals need to take supplements to address issues like joint pain. But generally, those aren't something pet insurance policies will cover.

Know what your coverage looks like

Although pet insurance has its limitations, the reality is that it's still an important thing to put into place. But as you shop around for coverage, pay attention to the details of what different companies will and won't pay for. And then, once you land on a policy, make a note of the items you'll need to cover out of pocket. Doing so could help you better budget for pet care costs -- and help ensure that money isn't a barrier to giving your pet the best life possible.

Our Research Expert

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