If more and more owners of dogs, cats and NACs decide to take out a health insurance contract for their little companion, this practice remains timid in France compared to our British and Scandinavian neighbors. It must be said that these formulas are swarming on the market and that their operating principle can often seem too vague to dare to risk it. However, opting for this type of insurance is a way to take care of your animal at a lower cost, which is why we suggest you take stock of this subject in order to make it clearer.
Health insurance for cats or dogs: choose your insurance and contract formula
The world of pet health insurance is booming. As a result, offers abound on the market, with variable and more or less attractive prices and guarantees. Since insurance companies are free to offer the formulas and prices of their choice, competition is fierce and it is not always easy to navigate. However, the principle of operation of these pet insurance is global and relatively simple to understand.
The different formulas available
There are three main categories of formulas for these insurances which work much like our mutuals for humans. Choosing the right plan for you is the first step.
- Basic formulas : these low-end, so-called economical offers are the least covering. They only provide a limited range of care reduced to illness and / or accident. Their reimbursement rate varies between 50 and 70% for a contribution amount between 5 and 15 euros per month.
- Comfort formulas : these intermediate offers constitute a good quality / price ratio. They cover care relating to accidents, illnesses, additional examinations, laboratory analyzes and pharmacy up to 70 to 90% for a contribution ranging between 10 and 30 euros per month.
- Premium formulas : these top-of-the-range services provide for all the aforementioned care to be taken care of, as well as the costs associated with euthanasia and the funeral of the animal. The reimbursement rate varies between 90 and 100% for a monthly contribution of the order of 30 to more than 50 euros.
The majority of insurance companies offer owners to take out a prevention package for ten or twenty euros more per year. This must be added to the chosen treatment formula and allows part of the expenses related to prevention to be covered (vaccinations, antiparasitics, deworming, sterilization / castration, etc.).
Points of vigilance
To be sure to choose the right formula, it is important to compare the offers well and to study certain essential points:
- The reimbursement rate : the reimbursement rate is important, because it is the one that applies to the amounts of care concerned by your contract. The higher the rate, the more you will be reimbursed. However, this fluctuates between 50 and 100% depending on the formulas.
- The cost of the formula : the same formula can be more or less expensive depending on the company. Compare them in detail to avoid getting caught, because just because your premium will be high doesn’t mean your animal will be better protected than with a competitor.
- The amount of the annual reimbursement limit : this amount is crucial because it is the maximum amount that your insurer will agree to reimburse you each year. This generally varies between 1,000 and 3,000 euros and it rises with the formulas. Be very careful on this point, because even if you subscribe to the most covering plan with a 100% reimbursement rate, once the ceiling has been reached, you will not be reimbursed for your veterinary expenses until the following year.
- Franchise : this is an amount withheld from your reimbursements, but it is not systematically imposed. It can either be a predefined amount withheld from your first repayments of the year, or a percentage deducted from each of your repayments during the year.
- The waiting period : this period runs from the signature of the contract to the effective date of the latter. During this time, your pet is not yet covered. However, depending on the companies and the formulas, it can last a few days or several months!
- The repayment period : this is the time limit to obtain the payment of your refund. This is important, because some insurers pay your due after 48 hours, but others after several weeks! A situation not always easy when the advance of expenses is important!
- Conditions of exclusion : be careful, because some insurers apply very arbitrary exclusion conditions. Thus, your animal may no longer be taken care of due to its breed, age or illness.
- Termination conditions : while most insurers are not reluctant to terminate a contract for a deceased animal or to accept a revision in the event of subscription to a more expensive formula, many impose very specific termination conditions to limit the departures of their policyholders to competition. So be careful, because even if you have the right to terminate your contract each year when it expires, some unscrupulous companies take the opportunity to make you pay illegal fees that they justify under vague grounds.
Health insurance for cats or dogs: being reimbursed for expenses
Once the formula has been chosen and the contract signed, the machine starts up and the process is simple.
Your insurer gives you treatment sheets that you must provide to the veterinarian during each consultation. The practitioner fills them out and gives you a detailed invoice for the treatments performed. As soon as possible after the consultation, you send these documents to your insurer.
Within a few days to several weeks, your insurance company pays your bank account the reimbursement to which you are entitled. The amount of this reimbursement takes into account the treatments concerned by your contract and the reimbursement rate applied to them. As a result, don’t get me wrong; you will not be reimbursed from 50 to 100% of your bill, but from 50 to 100% of the costs relating to the care mentioned in your contract depending on the plan you have subscribed to.
Please note that the amount of the deductible can be deducted from your reimbursements. As we said earlier, it can be applied in the form of a fixed sum deducted from your first request (or the first requests depending on the amount) or in the form of a percentage deducted from each request. However, not all insurance companies apply a deductible.
Finally, be aware of the fact that your insurance plan includes an annual reimbursement limit. When this is reached, you no longer benefit from any support for your veterinary expenses. You can always consult, of course, but you will have to wait for the following year, that is to say the date of tacit renewal of your contract, to be reimbursed again under the same conditions.