Posted on: January 13th, 2015 by Dr. Dale Rubenstein

With Dental Health Month almost upon us, I thought it might be a good time to bring up the subject of health insurance for your cat. Some policies do cover wellness services, so it’s worth considering.

As a feline veterinarian, it often happens when I’ve just had to inform an owner of their cat’s serious condition that I’m asked: “Is there health insurance for cats?” The answer is yes, but unfortunately for this cat, it is too late to get coverage for a just-diagnosed problem.

We encourage checking out pet insurance when your cat is young and healthy, so there are no “pre-existing conditions”, which will be excluded (and will increase your costs).

There is a difference between “pre-paid wellness plans”, which cover routine services only, and insurance for accidents and illness and/or pharmacy coverage. Dentistry often falls in-between, so you need to check policies carefully, depending on what you are looking for.

As with all insurance, the more extensive the coverage and the lower your deductible, the more expensive the policy.

What we recommend to our clients is a high-deductible, accident and illness policy started when your cat is young and healthy. This will be the most affordable policy. Most policies require that you pay at the time of treatment, and you then submit for reimbursement. Most veterinarians will help with any medical documentation that is required.

One of our clients started an insurance policy for her cat, Dante, when he was a healthy 8-month old cat. The following year, Dante developed a heart murmur. Because he had insurance, the echocardiogram was covered, because this was not a pre-existing condition. In addition, Dante also developed asthma, and the radiographs for diagnosis and costly medication were also covered. Dante’s family was grateful that they had insurance when Dante got sick and needed care.

Talk to your veterinarian to find out what company s/he recommends. You want a company with sound financial backing that has been around for a while; a new company may have a policy that sounds great and is inexpensive, but will it be here years later when needed? Again, the most important point is to look into obtaining insurance when your cat is young and healthy, and before you need it to cover a medical or surgical problem.