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What You Need to Know About Emergency Pet Insurance

Dr. Chip Coombs, DVM | Sep 28, 2022

Emergencies happen to everyone, and pet insurance helps cover a good portion of the veterinary medical bills whenever your pet is unexpectedly ill or injured. We love our furry friends and want to do everything we can to protect them. However, emergency veterinary bills can run into the thousands of dollars, and we don't always have the means to cover the expenses.

Rather than relying solely on your bank account, having pet insurance during an emergency gives you the financial peace of mind to make informed decisions with less worry about costs. Surgery, treatment, and medication for your pet's medical care may qualify for reimbursement, even if you visit an emergency clinic instead of your regular vet.

What is Emergency Pet Insurance?

Emergency pet insurance is part of regular pet health insurance. It covers significant crises that can't wait for a vet's office to open. Depending on your insurance provider, it can be used for most types of medical emergencies, except for issues related to pre-existing conditions.

Conditions Qualifying as Emergency Pet Care

Pet injuries and illnesses don't always happen during regular veterinary office hours. In many cities, emergency clinics are open 24 hours a day, just like in a hospital. In cities without an emergency centre, there may be some vet clinics that are open extended hours. Emergency veterinarians are often more specialized and may cost more than your regular vet.

Sometimes our pets can get injured or sick in the middle of the night, and we can't wait for the vet's office to open. Your pet may be seriously injured or ill with something life-threatening, such as:

  • Altercations with wild animals
  • Choking or trouble breathing
  • Unconsciousness and seizures
  • Allergic reactions
  • Excessive bleeding or puncture wounds
  • Bloat or gastric torsion
  • Serious accident or trauma

Access to emergency care is also vital when minor symptoms may signal a pending emergency. While types of emergencies differ based on the pet, some of the most common symptoms, such as vomiting and diarrhea, can be indicative of bowel obstruction or other serious issues. Getting immediate treatment can prevent minor conditions from becoming dangerous.

What Does Emergency Pet Insurance Cover?

There are generally two types of pet insurance plans: an accident-only policy or an accident and illness policy. Accident-only pet insurance can be used when your pet gets bitten by another animal, if they are hit by a car, or other unexpected injuries. Accident and illness insurance coverage is more comprehensive and covers unexpected injuries as well as illnesses such as cancers, diabetes, vomiting and diarrhea, or colitis. Furkin Pet Insurance is a comprehensive accident & illness product that provides up to $20,000 in annual benefits with no lifetime limits on any eligible condition, including emergency care.

Some pet insurance companies also cover wellness visits, vaccinations, parasite prevention, and regular checkups. However, these are routine and preventive care items that are not covered under accident and illness pet insurance plans and can be purchased by companies that offer a wellness policy add-on.

How Much Does Emergency Pet Insurance Cover?

The reimbursement amount for an emergency veterinary bill depends on the coverage you purchase. Generally, you pay the bill during the initial visit and are reimbursed a percentage of the cost. Reimbursements are usually 70%, 80%, or 90% of the total eligible expenses.

You will also sometimes pay a deductible when you have a claim. A deductible is an out-of-pocket payment you must meet – either each policy year or per condition – before your reimbursement percentage kicks in. Monthly premiums will depend on the deductible you have chosen in addition to other factors like pet age or breed, and your deductible options may also vary based on the type of pet and their age. With Furkin, you only have to meet one annual deductible and once it is met, there is no other deductible applicable for that policy year.

There may also be coverage limits on your pet insurance policy. Furkin's limit is $20,000 annually, which is a healthy amount of coverage for most accidents and illnesses, but different pet insurance providers may offer more or less, which all impact the overall cost of your coverage.

Is Emergency Pet Insurance Active Immediately?

Most pet insurance policies have a waiting period ranging from a few days to 30 days. The actual waiting period will depend on your chosen coverage plan and the insurer, and waiting periods can also vary based on the type of condition being claimed:

  • Accident coverage waiting periods can be two days, or up to 15 days with some insurers
  • Illness coverage waiting periods are usually around 15 days but can be as long as 30 days with some insurers
  • Cruciate ligament conditions usually have longer waiting periods with some companies offering limitations as long as 6 months

It's important to note that emergency pet care becomes eligible for coverage after the respective waiting period(s) have ended, and you'll be responsible for those costs if your pet gets hurt or sick enough to require emergency care before that time elapses. If you have more questions on pet insurance, pre-existing conditions, or other policy issues, contact our care team members, who will be happy to answer your questions.