Logically, pet insurance coverage/premiums are more expensive the older the pet is when it is enrolled (higher risk factors associated with age, no preexisting conditions, etc...). I currently have my employer providing pet insurance through company X. I however do not intend to continue to work for this employer for a very long time. Thus, I will be leaving at some point in my pet's life. When this happens, will I lose this employer provided insurance, and thus need to obtain a new policy from a different insurer? I ask because this would be later in the cat's life and would likely incur higher premiums to enroll into a brand new policy. If this is what happens and I would need to find a new policy/rate upon leaving this employer, it seems to make more sense that obtain pet insurance now (at low age, low risk, low premium) without my employer, thereby allowing me to permanently have this rate without needing to switch at a later time when I change jobs. Is my understanding correct? Is this a good idea?
At least in my experience, pet insurance doesn't "lock in" a rate; each year the premium can go up, with the age of the pet. There may be some benefit for wellness plans for having some length of coverage, simply because otherwise people sign up pets after they begin to have health issues; but for the most part the rates will increase as they age, regardless.
This is particularly true of wellness plans; if you're only covering accidents, it's less relevant how old they are, though it's still somewhat relevant.
As such, I suspect that financially it's a better idea to go with the employer plan, if the employer is helping pay for it, or otherwise the rate is lower (if there is risk pooling). But, that's not something I've ever seen - I've only ever seen pet insurance be one of those "extras" that's not at all funded by the employer, and thus just as cheap to get on your own.
Do note that, in most cases, "wellness" pet insurance unfortunately isn't a great deal; and with cats, if they're indoors, "accident" pet insurance isn't very necessary (it's much more useful for dogs, due to frequent walks outside, plus their tendency to eat things that shouldn't be eaten). Wellness insurance is useful when they're young in the event they have something unexpected, but once a cat hits around 6-8, the price goes way up, and it becomes harder to justify financially. Make sure the insurance makes sense for your situation - if you're getting insurance that only covers $5000, and you are able to pay a $5000 bill were it to come up, it may not be a good deal for you, as compared to putting $5000 in a savings account.
There are not that many insurers that operate in this space. The ones I’m aware of are all priced to the animal’s age and costs increase as the animal ages. This coverage is almost always “voluntary” which means there is no employer subsidy. Generally employer sponsored pet insurance is simply discounted retail coverage that gets list-billed to the employer while you’re an active employee. There’s typically no magic, no greater coverage or other benefits to the fact that it’s “employer sponsored” apart from the discount, which can be as high as 30%. The questions you need to ask are:
- Is this coverage portable? (probably yes)
- If it’s portable, is it portable at the same cost? (probably yes)
- If yes, do you keep the discount for the life of your cat (50/50)
- Does the cost increase as the animal ages? (probably yes)
- What is the employer discount? (worth asking)
Separately, you should go to the insurers site and quote out the coverage at multiple ages for the animal to understand how the cost accelerates as your cat ages. Other than the discounted cost you may benefit from securing the insurance earlier in an animal’s life because of pre-existing condition exclusion language.
All of this is assuming you’re already interested in buying coverage, because obviously the other option is self insuring the risk. You should, obviously, do your due diligence on the coverage, understand the limits and exclusions, etc. These programs typically cover some preventive vaccines and whatnot but also generally exclude pre-existing conditions and conditions arising from pre-existing conditions, and may have annual and/or lifetime limits. Those details matter independent of the portability of coverage secured through your employer.