HomeHealth TipsInsurance Related TipsHealth insurance for pets – useful or unnecessary?

10 months ago (02/02/22) 286 Views

Health insurance for pets – useful or unnecessary?

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A pet can become ill or injured in an accident. Veterinary treatment or surgery may be expensive. You can protect yourself against this financial risk with animal health insurance – but is it worth it?

The essentials in brief:

  • Health insurance for animals is rarely worthwhile.
  • Usually, only healthy animals are insured.
  • It can make sense to take out surgical cost insurance. It only jumps in for operations but is also significantly cheaper.
  • Animal owner liability insurance is something different from animal health insurance – from our point of view, it is a must for dog owners.

Some insurance companies offer special insurance for dogs, cats, and horses. But their benefits are often limited: the policies are expensive and not all treatments are paid for. In addition, only healthy animals are usually insured. So the question remains as to whether and in which cases insurance for a four-legged friend is worthwhile at all.

According to a study by Stiftung Warentest from 2021, animal health insurance for dogs is offered in Germany in the form of operation costs and full health insurance.

According to the financial test, a dog owner pays annually for a young, small dog from around 160 to almost 550 euros as part of operation insurance, whereby the scope of services differs significantly. The premium for larger dogs is higher.

Not only the size but also other factors such as the breed and the age of the dog at the beginning of the insurance are decisive for the amount of the premium. Even the place of residence plays a role for an insurer.

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If you want to take out comprehensive health insurance for your dog, consumers have to expect premiums that are three times higher than for surgical insurance.

The price differences and the risks covered are enormous. It is all the more important to compare the tariffs and conditions with each other and to select the right offer for you.

Who gets insurance and when is it valid?

In principle, only healthy animals are insured. There is often a minimum and maximum age between which the animal must be for you to be able to take out insurance. Animals to be insured must not be younger than two months. In the case of older animals or previous illnesses, a veterinary report on the state of health is sometimes required. After a certain age, you will no longer get insurance from most insurance companies – for example, for dogs older than seven years, the offer is manageable.

As a rule of thumb, the older the animal is when the contract is signed, the higher the premium.

In the case of illness, there is usually a waiting period of three months from the start of the contract. If an illness occurs very soon after the application, the costs will not be covered. However, this waiting time does not apply in the event of an accident. There is immediate insurance protection for this.

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As already mentioned, the contributions usually depend on the (dog) breed, the size, the weight, the age of the animal, and the type of housing.

The insurance protection exists in Germany, for a temporary stay abroad with dogs of most up to 12 months in Europe or even worldwide. If you want to travel with the animal, pay attention to the exact regulations!

The insurance contract can be canceled by either party – i.e. both you and the insurance company. Pay attention to the agreed notice period. You can also cancel after a premium increase and after an insured event has occurred.

Some insurers waive their right to cancel after a three-year contract term.

The contract expires if the insured animal is sold or dies. You should then notify the insurance company as soon as possible.

What benefits does the insurance offer?

Animal health insurance reimburses veterinary and surgical costs for outpatient, inpatient, and surgical treatment, medication, accommodation, and diagnostics.

Only medically necessary treatments are covered. For example, many insurers do not cover castration or sterilization without medical necessity. Not all insurers will accept tattoos or markings with a chip.

As a rule, the veterinary practices charge three times the rate of the fee schedule for veterinarians for all treatments. The insurance company usually only pays twice the rate. Only in justified cases (e.g. emergency services) can up to three times the rate be paid. It is also common that only 80 percent of the reimbursable costs are covered. You usually pay a deductible of 20 percent. Some insurers only cover veterinary costs up to a certain annual amount – for example, 2,500 euros.

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The schedule of fees, the deductible, and the cap on the annual costs mean that you may have to pay a larger part of examinations and treatments yourself, even if you have insurance.

You are free to choose the veterinarian/practice, including the veterinary clinics. However, you may need to visit the veterinarian you chose when you took out insurance.

Is pet health insurance worth it?

Only pet owners who insure their healthy pets as early as possible pay low premiums. You then pay contributions for this over many years. So think about whether the insurance pays off. Especially since standard services such as vaccinations or castrations or sterilizations are often not covered by the insurance.

It can make sense to take out pure surgical cost insurance to have at least part of the expensive surgical costs reimbursed. For such tariffs, the premiums are lower than for the more comprehensive policies.

You can also do without animal health insurance altogether if you build a reserve for emergencies and reserve money in the account for emergencies.

The differences in contributions and benefits between health insurance providers are enormous. If in doubt, let us advise you independently, for example!

Guidance on animal health insurance

  • offers the Stiftung Warentest ,
  • can provide independent insurance consultants – you can find contacts, for example, at their federal association,
  • can be obtained from your local consumer advice center.
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