- the race
- the size
- the age of the animal
- and sometimes even where you live.
The rule of thumb here is the younger and smaller, the better. For the TEST tariff comparison, the editors used a three-month-old Labrador. Some insurance companies classify these and other breeds, such as German shepherds or Rottweilers, as particularly vulnerable. The history of the animal also plays a role. If it has already had serious illnesses such as cancer, operations, loss of mobility, or similar, then animal health insurance is of no use, since previous illnesses are generally not covered.
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The most important criteria
The most important criteria for animal health insurance are the level of coverage, the maximum amount covered per year, and the services covered. As with all insurance, there are also many special cases and exclusions that are hidden in the small print.
Regarding the assumption of costs/excess: This is the percentage of the bill that the policyholder has to pay himself. The premium tariffs checked cover 100 percent of the costs, at least for operations (with exceptions). However, some insurance companies such as Helvetia, Agila, and Deutsche Tierkrankenversicherung reduce the percentage depending on the age of the animal. So it gets more expensive when most treatments are usually due.
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Animal insurance with an annual maximum
It is ideal if the pet insurance covers all costs without limit, i.e. even if the dog had an upset stomach in spring and a car accident in autumn. This is the case with almost all tariffs of the dog insurance companies tested. However, the German Family Insurance (DFV) only pays in full from the third year of insurance, before that the amount for dogs is limited to 1,000 euros. The Agila, on the other hand, caps the scope for treatments in general at 1,100 euros, only for operations there is no limit.
Although unlimited annual and lifetime benefits drive up small animal or dog insurance premiums, they ensure one thing: The policyholder is never faced with the decision of whether or not to euthanize a pet for cost reasons.
Medical Fees and Waiting Time
Coverage of the veterinary fees: Animal health insurance should definitely pay four times the rate of the scale of fees for veterinarians (GOT). Background: Depending on factors such as the difficulty and complexity of the treatment, veterinarians can charge three times the rate – in emergencies even four times the rate. This is included in all premium tariffs examined.
Waiting period: Insurance cover for various illnesses only exists after a certain waiting period has elapsed. At Helvetia Comfort, for example, it is three months – except in the case of accidents. Complex interventions such as the operation of a congenital or acquired misalignment of the acetabulum (hip dysplasia) are reimbursed by animal health insurance companies at Agila and Barmenia only after 18 months. Dedicated, Deutsche Familienversicherung offers insurance protection from day one.
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Animal health insurance benefits
Unfortunately, what is on the veterinary bill and what the small animal insurance companies ultimately transfer to their customers are often two different things. Example sterilization and castration: With the exception of animal health insurance Agila Exclusive, all providers refuse to cover the full costs – unless it is a medically necessary intervention. Instead, they limit the subsidy – if they pay any at all – to amounts that are usually far too low. The situation is similar to elbow and hip dysplasia, which many pedigree dogs suffer from. Arag only covers the costs to a limited extent, the German family insurance does not at all.
The situation is just as different when it comes to topics such as acupuncture, laser therapy, and homeopathy. Some insurance policies for dogs and other small animals, such as Deutsche Familienversicherung, also do not cover breed-specific diseases. For this reason alone, it is advisable to consult a veterinarian before taking out animal health insurance. Here pet owners can discuss the risks of certain diseases and the potential costs associated with them based on the animal’s age, breed, and medical history.